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Birds of Uganda – Variable Sunbird

Uganda’s equatorial location & abundance of fresh water provides it a sheer density of wildlife that can make your head spin. There are (well) over 1000 bird species confirmed in the country alone. And what birds! Some of them look like actual runway models. We have already met the Collard, Malachite & Palestine sunbirds, today we meet the Variable Sunbird (or Cinnyris venustus).
Colorful bird on a branch

Image of male Variable Sunbird from Charles J. Sharp under CC 4.0

Birds of Fashion

Sunbirds are wee birds similar to hummingbirds & honeyeaters. They are tiny nectar eaters often with bright iridescent plumage, that can fly quickly & hover when feeding. Although similar they are not related, they simply share a similar diet. Like most sunbirds, the males & females are very different physically (female sunbirds all seem to look a lot alike). During breeding season the Variable Sunbird male’s plumage is brilliantly iridescent, green/blue, maroon & yellow. Females are a soft grey-brown with pastel yellow underside.

Colorful bird eating nectar from a flower

Image of male Variable Sunbird from Stig Nygaard under CC 2.0

Family Ties

We were unable to find much specifically about the Variable Sunbird, so this information is about sunbirds generally. Both partners help to build their distinct nest & feed the young, but females do most of the incubating. They can also be aggressive & territorial during breeding season, but are generally quite gregarious the rest of the year.

Brown bird in a bush

Image of female Variable Sunbird from Charles J. Sharp under CC 4.0

Variable Lifestyle

Like hummingbirds, sunbirds generally feed mainly on nectar. Although they do supplement with insects, especially when feeding young. The Variable Sunbird is commonly breeds across most of equatorial Africa.

Colorful bird on the stalk of a flower

Image of male Variable Sunbird from Charles J. Sharp under CC 4.0

More Birdwatching

We are excited to embark on this fun new series of posts & can’t wait to share more about the amazing bird species that make up the diverse wildlife of Uganda. Stay tuned for more to come & in the meantime, perhaps you should come visit Uganda & meet some of them for yourself!

Post Author: Kelsey

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