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Welcome to My Little Garden
Welcome to My Little Garden

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Tropical Garden, Batu Caves, Malaysia
Gardening is part of my life and I want to share that portion of my zeal and joy with you. These are my thoughts, my experiences and life work. I hope it enrich and add value to you too.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How to Attract Nectar Drinking Birds - Sunbirds

One of the wonders of gardening is to see wildlife visit your garden
and enjoy the nectars produced by the flowers which you had planted them.
I had various kinds of butterflies, bees and birds visit by garden regularly
(of which - I'm not good in being quick with my camera shots)

This one especially:
The Olive Backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugalaris) female.
The male will have a blue metallic sheen on its face & throat.
(Yea... its just so difficult to capture them,
they fly away the moment I come close to them)
I would suggest you look up more pictures available in google.

Some people mistakenly identify them as hummingbirds.
Actually there are no hummingbirds around Asia regions.
These are commonly known as Sunbirds.

I do know that for some gardeners, these birds are a common sight.
I used to have years ago when these birds regularly visit my garden
with 5-6 birds in a group.
Currently it had reduced to 1-2 birds and they come very irregularly.

I wish they would increase their number again when more gardeners plant nectar bearing plants.

 Tips to attract Sunbirds.

1) Plant Nectar bearing plants & fruit trees.
I for one having a big issue on garden space in planting fruit trees but all is not lost.
Some flowering plants are a magnet for these birds.
These plants are also indeed hardy and able to withstand the lowland climate very well.

I would recommend:

1) Firecracker Plant (Russelia equisetiformis)
This plant however require good sunlight for it to bear flowers
(or else you will only be seeing needle like leaves spraying out everywhere like an ugly broom)

2) Indian Head Ginger (Costus woodsonii)
This is my another favourite plant.
Just like the firecracker plant, they constantly bloom with heavy nectar for these birds to drink from.

Also any kind of Heliconias.
(I find them too bulky and difficult to handle in small garden setting,
If you have the space and love heliconias - go for it)

3) Powderpuff plant - Calliandra species.
They tend to be a bit messy when the blooms are spend.
Often they need a bit of pruning when the shrub gets untidy.
I've been struggling with this one.
It is still adjusting to my garden - a plant passed to me by my mom.
Still whenever this one blooms the sunbirds would visit these bloom after finishing with the firecracker flowers.

4) Flame Violets (Episcia cupreata)
You may have to plant them on hanging pots as these birds don't seemed to come to ground level.
I only notice that they only go for plants above the ground level and avoid totally flowers which are plant at ground level.
(I'm guessing that its their survival instincts - maybe I'm wrong why they avoid the floral which are located at ground level)

I also found that Hibiscus attract sunbirds.
Personally I find that hibiscus don't do well in shaded garden and often infected with mealy bugs of which I don't dare use any pesticide to control them - lest it would also cause harm to these birds.

These plants grow and do well in my garden.
Something that I admire when the birds visit my garden.
And they know how to make an entrance - they make so much noise when they do.

Hope you enjoy seeing them in your garden as much as I do.
They are just so stunningly beautiful.

Do share with me if you have any of these nectar drinking birds visit your garden.
Share with me your experience and tips you can offer to enrich their lives.
Hope to hear from you soon.


  1. Such a wonderful sunbird. I've never seen this bird.
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Pretty little things... we have hummingbirds here all summer, but they've migrated to South America for the winter. Ive noticed, in the summer when everything is blooming... the hummers show up every 30 minutes, they seem to patrol around a territory, and pity there poor hummer who wanders in... they're little fighters!

  3. I have them visiting in pairs to suck on my various hibiscus, every morning at the same time. I Iive in an apartment on the 21st storey . My potted plants are placed on the small parapet. Yes they announce their arrival too, thanks for your tips. I am off to get the firecracker plant. Cheers

  4. I gave plenty of ixora, hamelia and hibiscus but i had no idea the sunbird favoured them! I have seen them hanging upside down and drinking from the aloe vera flowers and today i sighted a purple sunbird with a blue patch on its head sipping from a jasmine(!!, i had no idea it had any nectar) flower. I never fancied the firecracker plant, but now I do!Thanks for sharing!


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