Monday, May 14, 2007

Superb sunbird

I took advantage of having an overnight stay in Entebbe last week to stroll around in the municipal botanical gardens, a several-acre tract of light woodland interspersed with real rain forest, and all fronting on the shore of Lake Victoria (I'm told that the original Tarzan movie was filmed in the rain forest there). It was Saturday and consequently a little crowded with other people out to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the place. The birding could have been much better otherwise, but even so I did have one of those breath-taking sightings. A dark sunbird turned out, on closer inspection through my binoculars, to be a male superb sunbird (Nectarinia superba). Since male sunbirds in general are gorgeous, to merit a title like "superb" one has to be seriously stunning--and he was. Although his colors are all on the dark side, there's a remarkable richness and lustre in the deep maroon and blue iridescence of this fellow's plumage. He's larger than average for a sunbird, which adds to his impressiveness. And, being a forest dweller, he's harder to get a look at than most others. This was my first encounter with a male of the species, although a few years back I did see a female in the same park area. Sunbirds need to be seen from several angles and in varying light to bring out their best points, but you can see a still of a male superb sunbird at this URL: