Purple Sunbird (Nectarinia Asiatica)

Purple Sun bird Male

Dear friends, this blog post is special. Not only is this one of the most vibrant birds that I have photographed, this is the first blog post on swarnavanandi.com. Do read this and let me your thoughts about it.


Mostly found in West Asia through the Indian subcontinent and into Southeast Asia, the Purple Sunbird is a small sunbird. In Bengali, it is commonly known as Durga Tuni The Purple Sunbird is a frequent visitor of cultivation gardens and woodlands.


Where could you find them in Kolkata?

In Kolkata, you can spot the Purple Sunbird at most of the hotspot birding locations such as Rabindra Sarobar, Lion Safari Park, Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary, Shyamakhola and Eco Park. You could also find it on the sun shed of your neighbour!


Purple Sun bird Male Purple Sunbird (Male)


When should you photograph a purple sunbird? 

The best time to photograph the bird is early morning; you get a soft light that falls on the bird and brings out the iridescent bluish color. And, they are the most approachable during this time period as this happens to be their feeding time. Do not forget to carry a binocular to catch hold of the bird. Since the bird is shy in nature try to approach slowly. With each step forward, click a photograph; even if it not a masterpiece shot, one could use it for the record.


Photographing the Purple Sunbird, characteristics, breeding and the necessary details: 
The bird is 10 cm in size. Thus, making it difficult for one to observe them if not in open perch. The breeding male is glossy blue-black in colour, has bright yellow colour or red pectoral tufts which are visible during their preening whereas the Loten Sunbird has a long bill and distinctive broad maroon band on the breast.

Monsoon is the breeding season of the purple sunbird. The non-breeding males have eclipse plumage with a purple-black band which runs from their throat to belly. In breeding plumage, the male can be confused with the syntopic. The female Purple Sunbird is not categorised as breeding or non-breeding. They are different from the male ones in hue; having a black tail with olive above and variably yellow below. Often known to be vociferous in nature, they might call anytime to assemble to mob owls or other predators. Their nests are usually suspended from a low branch, often of thorny plants but are sometimes build close to human habitations, attached to wires or other man-made objects and even indoors in an unused toilet.

Purple Sunbird call: Their calls are as such “chip-chweet”, ”chit chit”, ”cheewit cheewit cheewit”.



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purple sun bird female kolkata Purple Sunbird Female | www.swarnavanandi.com


I photographed my first Purple Sunbird at Central Park, Kolkata around 7 AM in the morning while it was collecting nectar from the Calliandra plant, a plant bearing pinkish-red flowers. But nectar isn’t their only food; they also feed on berries, insects. They have a fast and direct flight and can gather nectar by hovering like a humming bird but often perch at the base of the flower flicking their wings. They are the main pollinators of some plant species namely Butea monosperma, Acacia, Woodfordia and Dendrophthoe. They spend around 3-4 seconds near one plant and if one is lucky, one gets around 10 seconds to photograph the amazing species.The most foxy thing about these birds are the breeding males, I love to look at them when the sunlight falls on the purple hue, it appears more glossy and appealing to me.

Do ask me questions about the Purple Sunbird in the comment section. If I am not able to answer it now, it would be an honour to work more on it and let you know. If you want to know more about birding and join me the next time I go out birding, please fill up the form here to get information.