W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm
Black Sunbird or Amethyst sunbird, female, feeding on the Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker) flowers in my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa).
I have these beautiful Sunbirds in my garden throughout the year, but during winter, spring and early-summer, when all the Aloes and Kniphofias are flowering, I am blessed by their regular daily visits to feed on the sweet nectar. As soon as I hear their soft little little tweets, I'm out with the camera or the sketch-book, hoping to get a good capture. Flightly little things they are, not so easy!
The Amethyst Sunbird, also called the Black Sunbird (Chalcomitra amethystine) mainly occurs in Africa south of the equator. Its natural habitat is dry savannah but it is extremely fond of gardens. It goes out of its way to visit a large clump of nectar-bearing plants. Here in my garden, it feeds on nectar from the Aloe, Kniphofia, Halleria lucida (Tree fuchsia) and a nectar mix in one of my bird feeders. It’s diet is supplemented with insects and often hawks flying insects from the trees or bushes, also gleaning them from leaves and branches. Nectar is obtained either from flowers or from garden feeders, which it uses readily (note that in feeding experiments it was found to prefer sucrose rather than sugar).
This Sunbird is not threatened, in fact, its range has increased recently due to the spread of wooded gardens.