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Olive-backed Sunbird (1 Viewer)

delia todd

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Is anyone able to help with the subspecies for this individual from Langkawi: https://www.birdforum.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=614886

I'm at the moment presuming C. j. flammaxillaris, however both Clements and IOC only mention Malay peninsula, not this island.

I checked in Avibase, but they don't have Langkawi in the distribution, so I got a bit stuck.

Wondering if you can confirm
 

andyb39

Well-known member
I saw a Facebook image of another individual from Langkawi the other day, which had me a bit puzzled - it looked subtly different from the birds I'm used to, less well-marked. I'll try to find it.
 

johnallcock

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I can't comment on the subspecies based on the photo, but I would think that the subspecies on Langkawi will be the same as on the adjacent mainland. Possibly the geographical descriptions you referenced don't mention every small island on which a taxon occurs if this is part of a larger range (similarly I expect they don't report on the subspecies present on each Thai island).
 

andyb39

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You would think so, John, but Langkawi is quite a large island and does have 3 species not found elsewhere in Peninsular Malaysia - Brown-winged Kingfisher, Mountain Hawk-eagle and Black-hooded Oriole. The peninsula has two subspecies, flamaxillaris in the north down to Penang and ornatus in the centre and south. I'm not sure where the boundary lies. I found out from HBW that there's a further possible subspecies, heliobletus, from Tanjong Dungun, a relatively small area with mangroves on the east coast (some friends of ours rent a beach house there). I'd like to find out more about this as I'm pretty sure the FB images I saw were taken in mangroves.
 
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johnallcock

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Thanks Andy. I hadn't realised that there was that much difference between Langkawi and the mainland (I've never been, so was guessing based on the physical location not any personal experience).
 

delia todd

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I can't comment on the subspecies based on the photo, but I would think that the subspecies on Langkawi will be the same as on the adjacent mainland. Possibly the geographical descriptions you referenced don't mention every small island on which a taxon occurs if this is part of a larger range (similarly I expect they don't report on the subspecies present on each Thai island).

I did wonder that John, but usually Clements will say "and adj islands", hence I checked Avibase, who make no mention of Lankawi in the range. They also have acceess to check-lists for the different areas. They have one for Lankawi, based on the Howard & Moore List, but that doesn't give me the subspecies.

I've downloaded the Howard & Moore 4.1 spreadsheet, but Lankawi still isn't mentioned on it.
 

delia todd

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Thanks for your comments too Andy. I do hope you can find out more in your own research, as I'm completely stuck now.
 

andyb39

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Just looked at Wells, which mentions only the 2 subspecies - no mention of that localised taxon. The dull green crown and chestnut border to the breast of flamaxillaris, absent in ornatus, can be seen on this bird:

http://www.langkawi-nature.com/Photo-gallery/Birds/olive-backed sunbird-640.jpg

Also here:

https://www.hbw.com/ibc/photo/olive-backed-sunbird-cinnyris-jugularis/one-bird-branch

Apparently intergrades occur as far south as Selangor.

So I think we can assume your female is flammaxillaris.

When I'm in Langkawi later this month, I'll try to study any females I see and compare them with females seen elsewhere.
 
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delia todd

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Thanks so much for all your research into this Andy. It's very much appreciated.

It would appear I'm safe enough to label the picture as a flammaxillaris then, which is a bit of a relief!

Good luck with finding some ladies to study when you next visit Langkawi;)
 

andyb39

Well-known member
I didn't get a good look at any females there but males are definitely flammaxillaris.

Individuals around KL are intermediate.
 
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