Concentration-dependent sugar preferences of the malachite sunbird (Nectarinia famosa)

  • Published source details Brown M., Downs C.T. & Johnson S.D. (2010) Concentration-dependent sugar preferences of the malachite sunbird (Nectarinia famosa). The Auk, 127, 151-155.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Provide supplementary food for nectar-feeding songbirds to increase adult survival

Action Link
Bird Conservation
  1. Provide supplementary food for nectar-feeding songbirds to increase adult survival

    A randomised and replicated series of ex situ choice experiments in 2006-7 in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (Brown et al. 2010), found that eight malachite sunbirds Nectarinia famosa changed preferences for different sugars changed dependent on the concentration being used. At 5% concentration the birds preferentially fed on hexose (equal parts glucose and fructose); at 10%, 15% and 20% they showed no preference and at 25% concentration they preferentially fed on sucrose. Birds also showed a preference for sucrose solutions of higher concentrations, compared to lower-concentration sucrose, although the difference between 25% sucrose and 20% sucrose was not significant. The authors note that 5% sugar solution was not sufficient to maintain the birds’ energy levels. Sugar solutions were provided in 20 ml burette tubes, moved periodically to avoid biases.


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