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Southern Double-Collared Sunbird

Southern Doublecollared Sunbird
Southern Double-Collared Sunbird reveals its characteristic bright red collar above the narrower, shiny blue collar, Curry's Post, KZN, South Africa. © Scotch Macaskill

Camera Gear: Canon EOS 50D; Lens Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM; Focal length 400mm; Shutter speed: 1/2000; Aperture: f/5.6; ISO 800; Exposure compensation: +1 EV

The Southern Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus) was previously called the Lesser Double-collared Sunbird. There’s also a Greater Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris afer) which is evidently quite a bit bigger, with a broader scarlet collar and longer bill.

To me the one pictured above looks like a Southern Double-collared, but the red band is broader than on others that I’ve photographed, yet doesn’t appear quite broad enough for a "Greater".

To confuse matters further, there’s also a geographic variation of the Southern Double-collared called C.c. subalaris. It has a broader scarlet breast band, approximately two-thirds the width of the Greater, and a longer bill. So this could be a subalaris, as these birds are found in KZN, where I took the picture.

The info about C.c.subalaris is from a new book, Roberts Geographic Variation of Southern African Birds, by Hugh Chittenden and David Allan, with beautiful artwork by Ingrid Weiersbye.

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