Appearance There are 36 species of Sunbirds found in Kenya, some extremely rare. They all have iridescent plumages. Sizes vary from 4 - 10.5" (10 - 27cm), although most are at the smaller end of the scale. Two species are seen; Nectarinia, that have long, curved bills and Anthreptes, with more straight bills. During breeding, many males change plumage, moulting it afterwards.
Habits Sunbirds move from place-to-place, according to when flowers appear, although some are largely territorial. They are very active and restless birds, but unlike the 'new world' Hummingbird, they perch to feed. Their typical nest is domed, with a porch-like projection above a side entrance.
Diet The Nectarinia family of Sunbirds, with the long, curved bills, probe into blossoming flowers, or pierce the base of deep tubers to reach nectar. The Anthreptes family of Sunbirds, with the straight bills eat insects, fruit and also take small amounts of nectar.
Resident Sunbirds are found all over Kenya, depending only on their food. Many species are found only at certain heights above sea level, others only in 'pockets'.
Extra Sunbird Facts The iridescent colours of Sunbirds can only be seen in good light, their feathers having a laminated structure. Therefore, the angle of light also makes a difference to the colours. Pollen often gets stuck to the forehead of these birds, sometimes making identification difficult.
Photographs Photographed at Kenya's Nairobi, Nairobi NP and Olare Orok Conservancy.