(1289) Anthreptes malacensis malacensis.
The Brown-throated Sunbird.
Certhia malacensis Scop., Del. Flor. et Faun. Insubr., ii, p. 91 (1786) (Malacca). Anthothreptes malaccensis. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 366.
Vernacular names. Nok-kin-plea-yai (Siam).
Description. - Male. Forehead, crown, back and sides of neck metallic copper-violet, with green reflections varying according to the light; rump, upper tail-coverts, lesser and median wing-coverts brilliant metallic purple-blue, scapulars and inner median wing-coverts brown with maroon tips; tail black with bluish reflections and with broad purple-blue edges to the central pair of feathers; greater coverts and wing-quills brown edged with olive-green or, generally, with maroon on the coverts; lores and sides of the head dull brownish-olive-; chin, throat and fore-neck cinnamon-brown with a metallic purple stripe on either side; breast bright yellow tinged with green on vent, posterior flanks and under tail-coverts ; axillaries and under wing-coverts very pale yellow.
Colours of soft parts. Iris red, crimson or dark brown; hill dark horny-brown to almost black, gape orange; legs and feet horny greenish-brown, greenish-plumbeous or dark dull green, claws brown.
Measurements. Wing 63 to 70 mm.; tail 47 to 49 mm.; tarsus 15 to 17 mm.; culmen 16 to 18 mm.
Female. Upper plumage yellowish olive-green, the feathers of the crown with dark centres; the lores and a patch under the eye more yellow; tail dark brown tipped very narrowly with paler and edged with rufous-olive; lesser wing-coverts like the back; other coverts and quills dark brown edged with rufous-olive; ear-coverts olive-green with pale shafts; lower plumage yellow, paler on the chin and throat and washed with green on the flanks, vent and under tail-coverts.
Distribution. Arakan, Tenasserim down the Malay States to Singapore and on the coastal islands; South Siam, Annam, Sumatra, Java and Borneo. With more material many island birds might be separable: thus a female from Sarri Island off Timor and again one from Siam have greyish throats whilst the males have very green breasts. For the present I retain all under the typical name.
Nidification. The Brown-throated Sunbird breeds practically throughout the year. Herbert and Williamson found nests with eggs from the 7th February to 6th September and Kellow took them near Taiping in January. The nests are oval or slightly pear-shaped and are made of fibre, roots and grass woven in with down and cobwebs and lined with finer grass, grass seeds and cotton-down, The entrance is protected in many cases with a rough, coarsely-made pad of fibre which projects over it but does not come down and semi-conceal it as it does in some Sunbirds' nests. The nests taken by Low in Borneo were all of the round or oval type and had no portico over the entrance. A very favourite site for building is the end of a leaf of a Betel-nut tree between 25 and 35 feet from the ground, but the nest may be attached to the end of a small branch of any tree or bush, sometimes within two or three feet of the ground. The eggs are always two and in ground-colour vary from pure white, which is rare, to rather deep purplish-pink. . The primary marks consist of numerous twisted lines of purple-black with secondary blotches and mottlings of lilac-grey and lavender. Fifty eggs average 17.3 x 12.6 mm.: maxima 19.5 X 12.3 and 18.4 x 13.3 mm.; minima 16.5 x 12.1 and 16.7 X 12.0 mm.
Habits. This is the most common and most widespread of the Malayan Sunbirds and is found all over the plains and lower hills up to some 3,000 feet. It keeps to open country, gardens and cultivation but is also sometimes found in thin forest or in the outskirts of dense evergreen-forests. It is said to be more of an insect-eater than the birds of the genus Leptocoma, but to be almost as active on the wing and in the way it climbs and clings when hunting the foliage for insects. Its voice is a weak chirrup, rather musical and frequently uttered.