Hummingbird? No…
 Handsome Sunbird, Yes!

Do we have hummingbirds in the Philippines?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions during our guided bird walks for the non-birder public. And to this we enthusiastically reply that what we have are sunbirds, feathered friends that are almost the same size, same diet, same habits and as equally charming as the hummingbirds from the  Americas.

In fact, The Philippines has 12 kinds of sunbirds, 7 of which are endemic or found only in our country. They live in a wide array of habitats, among them the most common, garden-bird Olive-backed Sunbird, the mangrove-dwelling Copper-throated Sunbird from Palawan, the localized and high-elevation Apo Sunbird from Mindanao and this lowland forest-dwelling Handsome Sunbird from PICOP, Bislig, Surigao del Sur, Mindanao, among others.

The Handsome Sunbird is one of the smallest sunbirds in the Philippines and ranges in most Philippine islands except Palawan where it is replaced by the similarly-looking Lovely Sunbird. The sunbird featured here belongs to the bella race and can be seen frequenting flowering and fruiting trees in forest and forest edge, feeding on nectar and sometimes small insects.

Handsome Sunbird, Aethopyga bella
January 2011, PICOP Forest, Surigao del Sur, Mindanao Philippines

18 thoughts on “Hummingbird? No…
 Handsome Sunbird, Yes!”

  1. wow! what a great information.these birds are regular visitors of my garden and i just love watching them sip nectars on the flowers in my garden. they also entertain me by watching them weave their hanging nest during their breeding season. thanks for the info.

  2. I have at the most 3 sunbirds that have been coming to my garden for years now…these are the olive-backed and yellow crested ones. Beautiful sing-song voices too! Although I have a bird bath, they prefer to “bathe” in the water trapped in the large leaves of plants (like orchids) and are always on the lookout whenever I water the plants! they are here every single day!

  3. Hi! I’m from the Visayas region of the country (Iloilo and recently Bacolod) and I have seen these sunbirds around for quite some time now. Recently, a pair even made its nest in our garden.

    Just wanted you guys to know that they are very common here too in the Visayas.. 🙂

  4. I would like to feed the sunbirds to see if they will come to my place near the beach we have many flowers there any suggestions on a type of feeder for them?

  5. Hi! I’m from Morong, Rizal near Antipolo City. I have seen 2 little birds in our garden this morning, collecting nectar on our orchids. I was amazed because i never seen it before. At first I thought it was a hummingbird that’s why I searched it on the internet.

    Thanks for this site.

  6. I eagerly await arrival of Fall here in south Texas, for that means hummers migration and soon be my guests on my artificial feeder. But I miss them them if ever I stay in the Phils for a while. I’m glad we have sunbirds!

  7. hi, Im from Cebu and I thought i was dreaming when i saw a cute little hummingbird feeding on some flowers in my school. It looked like a yellow-crested one. I thought they didn’t exist in the Philippines! Well, not until yesterday. Thanku for the insight.. 🙂

  8. All the while I thought these birds are hummers. They are regular guests in my garden and they love to feed on trumpets, shrimp plants, and magnolia blooms. Thanks for the info, it’s my first time to hear of sunbirds.

  9. I am from the midwest part of the U.S. and in the summer we had hummingbirds glore and I kept about ten to twelve feeders going all the time. They are so very fasinating to watch plus you can get them used to yo and they will land on yor hand often to eat.
    I live on Palawan now and wold love to see hummingbird type birds here and to feed them. Any ideas on how to get the Sunbird to come around. As I say, I live around Puerto Princesa City.

  10. i am from santiago city, isabela. i was suprised when i saw a hummingbird in our neighborhood few years back. it was as small as my thumb with long narrow beak as long as its body. it was hovering from flowers to flower in a neighbor’s fence. it didnt cling to the branches it just hovers and yes it flew backwards too. i kept staring for about a minute in disbelief until it flew away towards a nearby coconut tree. i am not sure if its someone’s pet or if it is a domestic species.

  11. Good day Earl,

    Many thanks for dropping by. Some birders here in the Philippines, were able to feed sunbirds from feeders. Some have suggested to place your feeders close to real flowers first so that the chances of the birds drinking from your feeder will increase. I think it may also help if you place cut flowers near the mouth of your feeders to entice them. Check out this blog about one of our friend’s experience in feeding sunbirds in Romblon Island here:

  12. hmmmm..highly informative , i really thought it was a humming bird i saw regularly iin our lawn garden in Davao, looks like it wasMt. Apo Sungbird the one with yellow and red crested and green body feather but does fly and sip flow after flower like a hummingbird!

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