(1260) Aethopyga siparaja cara.
The Tenasserim Yellow-backed Sunbird.
Aethopyga cara Hume, Str. Feath., ii, p. 473 (1874) (Tenasserim) ; Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 349.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Male. Forehead and crown metallic green, sometimes faintly tinged with violet; lores, nape, sides of head and neck, back, scapulars and lesser wing-coverts crimson ; rump bright yellow; upper tail-coverts metallic green mixed with violet-purple: tail black glossed with violet-purple, sometimes mixed with metallic green : greater coverts and wing-quills brown edged with greenish-yellow; a long, narrow moustachial streak violet; chin, throat and breast scarlet-crimson, brighter and lighter than the back ; abdomen, posterior flanks, vent and under tail-coverts grey very slightly washed with olive.
Colours of soft parts. Iris crimson-brown or dark brown ; bill above dark horny-brown, below yellowish-horny : legs and feet dark brown.
Measurements. Wing 53 to 57 mm.; tail 40 to 48 mm.; tarsus 14 to 15 mm.; culmen about 14 to 15 mm. All females of Sun-birds are a little smaller than the males.
Female. Whole upper plumage olive-green, the feathers of the crown edged with ashy and with almost concealed dark centres, the back and more especially the rump with a strong tinge of yellow; tail-feathers ashy-black, the central feathers edged and suffused with green, the lateral ones with dull white tips.
Young birds are like the female.
Distribution. Southern Burma, from Kangoon to the extreme South of Tenasserim ; South and South-West Siam.
Nidification. With the exception of Hopwood apparently no collector has been successful in finding this Sunbird's nest. Two nests, each containing one egg, taken by this gentleman on the 16th of January and the 18th of February, are described by him as "in each case resembling the nest of AE. seheriae. They were neatly woven, pear-shaped with no portico and thickly lined with silky papyrus, probably of Calotropis sp." The two eggs differ very greatly in appearance. One has the ground-colour pale pink and is profusely speckled all over with light brick-red, the other has the ground very pale greyish-yellow and is speckled in the same manner with rather darker grey. The two eggs measure respectively 15.2 x 11.1 and 14.9 x.16.6 mm. In a letter Hop-wood informs me that they were pendent from small branches of bushes about three or four feet from the ground and that they were taken close to Tavoy.
Habits. This Sunbird is found in open country, secondary growth and in gardens; very rarely it has also been seen in the interior of evergreen-forests. It feeds generally low down in flowering bushes and shrubs, occasionally on flowering trees and constantly on the coconut-palms whenever these are in flower. Though nowhere very common, Hopwood says they were fairly numerous in Tavoy, haunting the beds of flowering plants in gardens, sometimes two or three pairs in company. They feed both on nectar and the tiny insects which the nectar attracts and often hover, like Humming-birds, before the flower from whose chalice they are feeding. They have a rather shrill little twitter but no song.