Pictures and description of 7 species of Spiderhunter birds


Spiderhunter which are grouped together with Sunbirds. These are slender birds with down curved bills and harvesting nectar as their diet. Of course, Spiderhunters are larger birds when compared with Sunbirds and having longer and larger bills. Both sexes are alike. These birds are confined to an area, India and east to the Philippines. The southwards from the Himalayas to Java with the greatest number of Spiderhunters found in Malaysia.

Spiderhunters are birds of the forest and rarely venture out to public park or domestic gardens.  The only Spiderhunter that is close to places with human would be the Streaked Spiderhunter which is a sub-montane bird. For more write-up which mentioned about Nectariniidae seen in built-up area, then refer to the text rlating to Sunbirds.

Within this family of Nectariniidae there are 62 birds of which 11 of them are Spiderhunters. Again of this number, in Malaysia we should be able to see 8 of them.

Here on the list shown on top,  I have got 7 Spiderhunters in my collection leaving the single Whitehead's Spiderhunter out. This is a bird found only in the montane region of Borneo island where I have not spent that much of time.

Spiderhunters as they are so-called as their favorite food is Spider and they have the skills to extract the insect from its web. But they also consume a host of a other small arthropod prey . Perhaps their second favorite would be extracting nectars where their tongue are specially manipulated to do the job. Lastly, I have recorded  fruits of the Marcaranga, Ficus plus another species being the choice of the Spiderhunters. In fact , on these occasions there were 3 species coming together for the feast.

All these while, the bird were seen moving about alone and never in pairs. Only the Little Spiderhunter was recorded perched alone and making calls in several occasions.

The nest of the Spiderhunter is the under side of the large leaf, usually that of the Banana leaves with the two edges pulled in and stitched with sticks. Not surprising is that web filament from the spider home is used to stitch the leaves together.



  1.Bornean Spiderhunter  

2. Gray-breasted Spiderhunter


3. Little Spiderhunter

  4. Long-billed Spiderhunter  
  5. Purple-naped Spiderhunter  
  6. Spectacled Spiderhunter  

7. Streaked Spiderhunter

  8. Thick-billed Spiderhunter  
  9. Whitehead's Spiderhunter


  10. Yellow-eared Spiderhunter  

Spiderhunter watching needs a different tactic as the birds cannot be found at random. Chance meeting is rare. They are birds with fix habits and returning to the same cluster of tree or trees for nectar/seeds at the scheduled time.

So prior knowledge of the exact spot and trees and which are the species to be found is essential. For example, for Streaked Spiderhunter the bird can be found at the summit of Bukit Tinggi and Maxwell Hills in great numbers. Once knowing the birds routine, meeting up with the birds desired is just a normal Spiderhunter seeking trip where chances are above average.

I can say that as there are still a couple of species such as the Thick-billed and the Yellow-eared Spiderhunters. I still need more pictures and I just couldn't say where could I meet up with them.

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