Facts about Malachites:
The male Malachite Sunbird – Nectarinia famosa is a metallic green bird with yellow pectoral tufts and has a long tail making his total length approx. 25cm. The female has a brown back with pale yellow underparts and white outer tail feathers. The tail is much shorter than that of the male, making her total length approx. 15cm. The juvenile malachite looks like the female but it has greener upperparts and yellower underparts. This sunbird is territorial and aggressive especially when nesting.
The Malachite Sunbird is found on hilly fynbos, on proteas and aloes. Malachites prefer a habitat consisting of montane grasslands and scrub, riverine bush, fynbos and gardens. This species can occur at high elevation, 2400 metres in Ethiopia, 3000 metres in Tanzania, and from sea-level up to 2800 metres in South Africa.
Feeding and Diet:
The Malachite Sunbird feeds primarily on nectar and insects. It gets food from several plants such as Lobelia and Aloe, and also Kniphofia (Liliaceae). They will also feed from other plants as well. It will observe insects from an exposed perch and fly up to grab them. The babies will eat mainly insects and other small bugs. Both genders have long curved thin bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues for nectar feeding. It feeds and forages alone or in pairs, or in loose groups of 30-40 birds.
Picture of a female Malachite Sunbird – note the lack of colours compared to the male. She usually lays two grey eggs, which she incubates for 13 days. Her nest is oval. It is made with grass, plant fibres, leaves, twigs, rootlets and spider webs. The interior is lined with soft grass, hair, feathers, down and wool.
The nest is placed within a bush with an entrance facing inwards, between near ground and 20 metres up in tree or bush, often above the water.
Another male, but this time without the breeding plumage.