Sunbirds ( Nectariniidae ) are a family of small passerine birds with a distribution from Africa to Australia. These birds resemble American hummingbirds; the males of this peculiar bird species usually have brilliant plumage, with iridescent feathers that shine in the sunlight, hence its name.
Now a team of zoologists from Trinity College Dublin, in collaboration with a research team in Indonesia, have found several new species of colorful tropical sunbirds. It is a new species, the “Wakatobi Sunbird” or Wakatobi sunbird ( Cinnyris infrenatus) , which lives on the small Wakatobi Islands in central Indonesia. In addition to being genetically unique , the Wakatobi sunbird also has darker plumage, a higher-pitched song, and shorter wings than the olive-backed sunbird.
Similarly, they also found that other species of olive-backed sunbirds actually belong to multiple unrecognized species.
“It is surprising that there are still species waiting to be found in this region, which has been important for evolutionary biology since the time of Alfred Russel Wallace,” said Fionn Ó Marcaigh, in his study published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.
Continuing with the theory of evolution
Using new forms of evidence, including DNA, song recordings, and statistical analyzes of body measurements, zoologists have revealed that this family of birds is even more diverse than previously believed.
Findings from researchers at Trinity College of Natural Sciences and Universitas Halu Oleo in Sulawesi, Indonesia, have just been published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. This magazine was the first to publish the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace back in 1858.
Reference: Fionn Ó Marcaigh et al. Small islands and large biogeographic barriers have driven contrasting speciation patterns in Indo-Pacific sunbirds (Aves: Nectariniidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, published online October 25, 2022; doi: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlac081