Male Amethyst Sunbird on Freylinia tropica shrubCaption: Male Amethyst Sunbird on Freylinia tropica shrub, showing the bird’s all black body with distinctive metallic green forecrown and iridescent purple throat and shoulder patches, Curry’s Post, KZN, South Africa.

Sunbirds, because of their small size and the way they flit from flower to flower at high speed, are not easy to photograph.

I’ve found the best time to snap them is when they settle for a moment to feed on nectar from a flower, or perch briefly on a twig before flying off. Then you have to hope they aren’t partly hidden by flowers or leaves, or in mottled shade from the foliage. And, of course, you need a catchlight in the eyes, so the head needs to be facing the right direction.

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