Green-tailed Sunbird of Bhutan

The Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis) is a commonly found sunbird species that ranges from the northern parts of South-east Asia to the Himalayan region of South Asia.

Like most of the sunbirds, the male and female are exhibit sexual dimorphism (male and female of the same species look different). The male is attractively coloured while the female is rather drab looking.

I had the opportunity to see a few of these sunbirds in Bhutan and the thing that struck me was the name of the bird and its actual colour. As the name implies, one should expect a sunbird with a green tail. Yet on closer examination, the colour of the tail as well as crown and throat is actually iridescent blue with only hints of green at certain angles. At first, I thought I had problem with my eyes and camera, but a casual check on other pictures in the Internet shows the same colouration.

I leave you with some pictures I took, and you can decide yourself whether the sunbird is indeed aptly named. The best encounter I had was where the sunbird perched on an old growth branch with some Usnea. Usnea, also called Old Man’s Beard is actually lichen that resembles hair. It is an indicator of pristine old-growth forests, of which Bhutan is famous for.


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