(1286) Leptocoma minima.
The Small Sunbird,
Cinnyris minima Sykes, P. Z. S., 1832, p. 99 (Deccan). Arachnechthra minima. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 363.
Vernacular names. Chota Shakar khora (Hind.).
Description. - Male. Forehead to nape brilliant metallic green; lores and sides of the head dull black; back, scapulars and visible portions of lesser and median wing-coverts deep crimson; rump, and upper tail-coverts brilliant lilac; tail black; greater wing-coverts and quills dull black; chin, throat and fore-neck metallic purple-lilac; breast and sides of neck crimson like the back; a black band across the lower breast; abdomen and flanks yellow, faintly washed on the flanks with olive; axillaries and under wing-coverts yellowish-white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill, legs and feet black.
Measurements. Wing 46 to 48 mm.; tail 28 to 29 mm.; tarsus. 13 to 14 mm.; culmen 12 to 14 mm.
Female. Upper plumage, sides of head and neck and visible portions of wing-coverts olive-green; rump and upper tail-coverts deep maroon ; tail black; wing-quills dark brown edged with olive; lower plumage all oily-yellow, brightest on the throat, breast and centre of the abdomen.
The Young male seems to acquire the adult plumage very irregularly. As a rule the crimson is acquired first, then the metallic rump and upper tail-coverts and lastly the metallic throat and crown.
Distribution. Ceylon and the South-Western Hills of India from the latitude of Bombay to the extreme South of Travancore. It does not occur East of the Deccan-.
Nidification. The Small Sunbird breeds in Ceylon and Travancore in February, March and April, whilst in Kanara it breeds from December to April. In the Nilgiris it breeds in September and October but the nests and eggs recorded as taken by Davison were not those of this little Sunbird. The nests are very much the same as those of the Purple Sunbird but much smaller and, though the Purple Sunbird often uses some moss in their construction, this small Sunbird makes green moss his staple material. Davidson writes that they are " ornamented with broad bands of white material and suspended in nine cases out of ten at about three feet from the ground on the edge of a plant of Strobilanthus." Phillips took two undoubted nests of this little Sunbird near Anasigalla in Ceylon.
The eggs are nothing like those of the L. asiatica group, but have the ground a pure white, very rarely tinged with pink. The primary markings consist of reddish blotches, sparse elsewhere but dense in a zone round the larger end; the secondary marks are of pale reddish-grey, still more scanty in number. In fact the eggs are far more like those of Aethopyga than those of the other species of the genus Leptocoma. Twenty eggs average 14.0 x 10.2 mm.: maxima 14.5 x 10.4 mm.; minima 13.5 x 9.9 mm.
Habits. The Small Sunbird is similar to the other larger species of Leptocoma in its habits and, like most of them, is found both in thin forest, scrub and in gardens, though it does not seem to breed in the latter. Bourdillon found it in deep evergreen-forest in Travancore and says that there he never met with it in the true plains, though it is common in the broken ground at the foot of the hills and ascends to the highest peaks. In the Nilgiris also it is found from the bases up to about 8,000 feet.