Physical characteristics: Adult body length is about 4 inches (10 centimeters) and adult weight is 0.88 ounces (25 grams). The breeding-season male's coloration is black fringed with royal blue on the crown, nape and shoulders, with yellow fringing of some of the wing feathers, deep yellow on the ventral surface (undersides) with olive-brown streaks on the breast. The caruncles are squarish and turquoise blue except for green closest to the eye. Females have dull yellowish underparts, yellow on the sides and on the underside of the tail, dull blue-green brown upper bodies and heads.
Geographic range: They are found along the east coast of Madagascar.
Habitat: Sunbird-asities live in the east coast mid-altitude mountain rainforest from 1,200 to 4,350 feet (400 to 1,450 meters) above sea level.
Diet: Common sunbird-asities eat nectar from many plant sources; and insects and related creatures. Common sunbird asities glean (pluck off) insect prey from flowers, leaves, and bark.
Behavior and reproduction: The typical call of the common sunbird-asity is a high-pitched string of notes that sounds like "seesee-see-see-see-see." The call can be heard from 150 to 300 feet (50 to 100 meters) away. Male common sunbird-asities, curiosity-driven, will often approach to within a few feet of a human being.
Common sunbird asities and people: There is little if any direct interaction between common sunbird asities and humanity, except for mostly foreign bird watchers, who benefit ecotourism in Madagascar and contribute to the local and national economies.
Conservation status: These birds are plentiful and widespread along Madagascar's east coast, with densities of a thousand individuals per 0.4 square miles (1 square kilometer) reported. They are not considered endangered or threatened. ■
The male common sunbird-asity's breeding colors are black, blue, and yellow. During the nonbreeding season, his colors are duller blue-green, brown, and dull yellow. (Illustration by Dan Erickson. Reproduced by permission.)
FOR MORE INFORMATION Books:
Goodman, Steven M., and Jonathan P. Benstead, eds. The Natural History of Madagascar. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
Lambert, Frank, and Martin Woodcock. Pittas, Broadbills, and Asities. Sussex, U.K.: Pica Press, 1996.
Morris, P., and F. Hawkins. Birds of Madagascar: A Photographic Guide. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998.
Safford, R. J. and J. W. Duckworth, eds. A Wildlife Survey of Marojejy Reserve, Madagascar. Study Report No. 40. Cambridge, U.K.: International Council for Bird Preservation, 1990.
Andrianarimisa, A. "A Record of the Sunbird Asity Neodrepanis coruscans in the Réserve Spéciale d'Ambohitantely." Newsletter of the Working Group on Birds in the Madagascar Region 5, no. 2 (1995): 8-9.
Goodman, S. M., and M. S. Putnam. "The Birds of the Eastern Slope of the Reserve Naturalle Intégrale d'Andringitra." Fieldiana: Zoology, new series no. 85 (1996).
Hawkins, F., R. Safford, W. Duckworth, and M. Evans. "Field Identification and Status of the Sunbird Asities Neodrepanis of Madagascar." Bulletin of the African Bird Club 4 (1997): 36-41.
Prum, R. O. "Phylogeny, Biogeography, and Evolution of the Broadbills (Eurylaimidae) and Asities (Philepittidae) Based on Morphology." Auk 110 (1993): 304-324.
Prum, R. O., and V. R. Razafindratsita. "Lek Behavior and Natural History of the Velvet Asity Philepitta castenea." Wilson Bulletin 109, no. 3 (1997): 371-392.
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