I photographed this Loten's sunbird (Cinnyris lotenius) recently in Sri Lanka. I stood alongside the flowering shrub that you can see in the picture. I was in a sandy area that had scattered flowering shrubs and and I knew that Sunbirds were around because even though they are not easy to photograph, they are very vocal and defend their territories constantly and I could hear them vocalising. The shrub was attracting dozens of nectaring butterflies and I assumed that the sunbirds would also be attracted to the shrubs producing the most nectar. It seemed to me that the best idea was just to wait next to a likely food source. I always get most satisfaction from seeing an idea or plan work out and this is exactly what happened in this case. I waited patiently in the 32 degree heat, it can be unbearably hot and sticky at times but today it was a little cloudy which made it possible to stand out in the open. It wasn't long before a sunbird arrived in to the bush and I waited with bated breath as the bird came from the far side and towards the blooms on my side. I was thrilled to see that it was a Loten's Sunbird, the first that I have actually seen. Previously, I had photographed Purple Sunbird and mis-named Purple as Loten's, they are the same in coloration but the beak of the Loten's is comparatively massive, their other name is Long-billed Sunbird after all. This was either a young male or an adult in eclipse plumage with the vestiges of adult colours showing here and there. After a minute or two and after I had taken some of the best photographs imaginable, another sunbird arrived and this one was a Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus). It was really educational for me to compare the two species. Then, very interestingly, the Purple, even though slightly smaller, was dominant over the Loten's and chased the larger bird off the blooms and out of the bush.
You can see in this picture that there is a large amount of adult colouring down the breast. But compare the two species in the photo of the Purple Sunbird in the same bush and you can see that the profile is noticeably different in both birds. Note how much longer the beak is in the Loten's. (By the way Loten was a Dutch naturalist). A great morning session and if anyone ever wonders why I vist Sri Lanka on my own and spend time away then here is your answer,