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The Land of the Flying Sun


Loten's Sunbird, Coorg -


Coorg is famed for the profusion of its plant life; a patchwork quilt of green, embossed with gorgeous floral patterns. Adding to this thing of beauty is a little ray of dappled sunshine that periodically flits in to embellish this tapestry by hovering over the flowers, almost as if holding a pose for posterity. Meet the Loten’s Sunbird, a small statured, but magnificently attired gentleman in a purple vest and maroon breast-band, armed with an impressive scimitar as a beak. In fact this curved rapier is his pride and joy, as it’s the longest and heaviest beak among all Southern Sunbirds. It’s not merely a showpiece, but a very handy tool to get at his favourite drink of sweet nectar. You’ll often find him hovering above a flower, much like his distant Central American cousin, the Hummingbird, drinking his fill from his floral vessel. He, however, prefers to find a perch when it’s time to dine on more substantial food like insects and unwary spiders caught in their own webs. Named after Joan Gideon Loten, a former colonial Dutch governor of Sri Lanka, this bird doesn’t mind going Dutch on occasion, and is known to share chores at home with his partner. This house-proud bird is fiercely territorial and instantly bands together with other like-minded sunbirds to drive out any predators from its vicinity. Loten’s Sunbirds have been known to take on much larger intruders, and the sight of those flashing scimitars flying in formation must be enough deterrent, as most potential interlopers rapidly show a preference for discretion over valour. If you ever come to Coorg and hear the distinctive Zwick-Zwick call of the Loten’s Sunbird, you can rest assured that all is well, and the world is in full bloom, ensuring the sun never sets on this wonderful bird.


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