Certhia violacea Linnaeus, 1766, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Violet-headed sunbird, wedge-tailed sunbird; French: Souimanga orangй; German: Goldbrust-Nektarvogel: Spanish: Nectarina de Pecho Anaranjado.
Male 5.7–6.5 in (14.5–16.5 cm), female 4.9–5.3 in (12.5–13.5 cm); male 0.32–0.4 oz (9–11.3 g), female 0.3–0.34 oz (8.6–9.7 g). Head metallic green with brown upperparts, orange breast, and blue band across base of throat.
West Cape Province to Cape Town, South Africa.
Restricted to the fynbos of South Africa, where found in heathlands and protea stands, but also occurs in parks and gardens.
Found singly or in pairs during breeding season, but congregates in flocks of up to 100 birds in the nonbreeding period. Migrates from lower to higher altitudes during the southern summer in search of flowering plants. Tame.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Closely associated with Erica heaths, taking their nectar by probing into florets while clinging to stems. Also feeds on insects, often taking them in the air during spectacular forays from perches, and on spiders.
Timing of breeding linked to flowering by Erica heaths with peak activity in May through August. Males defend territories aggressively, attacking and chasing intruders. Nest unusual for a sunbird as is ball-shaped and placed in bush and not suspended. Only female builds, using rootlets, leaves from heaths, twigs and grass, with cobwebs as adhesive. One or two eggs, mostly white with brown markings, hatch two weeks after being laid. Both sexes feed young but female does two-thirds of the work. After fledging, parents tend young for three weeks.
Not threatened; common in appropriate habitat. Threatened by urbanization, agricultural developments, and fires.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
None known apart from role in pollinating proteas, some of which are sold commercially, and heaths.
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