sugarbird, noun

Origin:
South African Dutch, DutchShow more Translation of South African Dutch, transferred use of Dutch suikervogel humming bird (suiker sugar + vogel bird).
1. Either of two species of bird of the Promeropidae, Promerops cafer or P. gurneyi, in colour brown, white, and rufous, and with long tails and long, slender, curved beaks; sunbird.
Note:
In G.L. Maclean’s Roberts' Birds of Sn Afr. (1993), the name ‘Cape sugarbird’ is used for P. cafer, and ‘Gurney’s sugarbird’ for P. gurneyi. These two species together constitute the family Promeropidae.
1798 Lady A. Barnard in Lord Lindsay Lives of Lindsays (1849) III. 408I began to collect my Cape trifles for my friends at home, — some beautiful loories,..some plumes of the sugar-bird’s tail, which is long and elegantly formed at the season of the year.
1804 R. Percival Acct of Cape of G.H. 101The sugar bird appears here with a very large bill, and the tongue extending a great way out of its mouth, yet not thicker than a knitting needle. This instrument these birds thrust into the flowers and extracts the sweets.
1905 W.L. Sclater in Flint & Gilchrist Science in S. Afr. 139The longtailed Sugar birds (Promerops), two species of which are generally recognised, form a distinct family, the range of which is confined to South Africa.
c1911 S. Playne Cape Col. 549A bird which is peculiar to South Africa is the Longtailed Sugar Bird, two distinct species of which have been recognised...The Cape Longtailed Sugar Bird (Promerops cafer) is very common about the slopes of Table Mountain.
1923 Haagner & Ivy Sketches of S. Afr. Bird-Life 18The Sugar-Birds, called Zuiker-vogels by the Boers — a name shared by the Sunbirds — are also real friends of the farmer, for although subsisting largely on nectar sucked from the flowers of protea bushes and other blooms, they feed extensively on various insects.
1936 E.L. Gill First Guide to S. Afr. Birds 37The Natal Sugarbird, Promerops gurneyi..has a shorter tail than the Cape species and is much redder on the crown, throat and breast.
1965 H. Stokes What Bird Is That? 63Sugarbird (Long-Tailed)...This decorative bird is peculiar to South Africa. Wherever there are Protea bushes, you are likely to see this distinctive bird.
1968 G. Croudace Silver Grass 64Sugar birds broke their dancing flight above the proteas only to plunge their beaks into the sweet heart of the blooms.
1976 W. Héfer in Optima Vol.26 No.2, 46The home of..the Cape francolin;..the long-tailed sugar bird; and the malachite sunbird.
1983 K.B. Newman Newman’s Birds 388Gurney’s Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi...Occurs on eastern mountain slopes where proteas or aloes are flowering...Cape Sugarbird...The song is a series of jumbled metallic, grating churring notes.
1986 Weekend Argus 9 Aug. (Suppl.) 4Brightly coloured sunbirds (orange-breasted, malachite and lesser double-collared) and the Cape sugarbird are common.
1992 D.M. Richardson in Afr. Wildlife Vol.46 No.2, 210Starlings feed enthusiastically on the nectar of the shrub Protea repens, much to the annoyance of the native Cape sugarbirds.
2. obsolete. Any of several species of sunbird: honey-sucker sense 2. Also attributive.
Note:
See note at sunbird.
1810 G. Barrington Acct of Voy. 298The little sugar bird is another wonder of nature..with a long sickle-shaped bill.
1822 W.J. Burchell Trav. I. 245A beautiful green Sugar-bird frequented the thorn-trees, and in splendid plumage surpassed all the other birds of the place.
1827 T. Philipps Scenes & Occurrences 69The sugar bird, of a dark green, hangs pendant by its legs, and never leaves the tree until the flowers fade.
1828 T. Pringle Ephemerides 104Gorgeous erythrina shakes Its coral tufts above the brakes, Brilliant as the glancing plumes Of sugar-birds, among its blooms.
1850 J.E. Methley New Col. of Port Natal 30A brilliant-hued family of sugar birds, (nectarinae) which flutter like insects round the blossoms and flowers.
1856 R.E.E. Wilmot Diary (1984) 131The gay sugar birds in their coats of burnished green.
1861 Lady Duff-Gordon Lett. from Cape (1925) 66The sugar-birds..are the humming birds of Africa.
1878 T.J. Lucas Camp Life & Sport 83Several varieties of sugar bird, a species allied to the humming birds or ‘hovers’..were constantly to be seen flying restlessly over the aloe blossom.
1897 H.A. Bryden Nature & Sport 59The sun-birds, or sugar-birds as the Cape colonists call them,..are..famous for their brilliant colouring and the gorgeous metallic sheen of their plumage.
1906 B. Stoneman Plants & their Ways 136There flashed quite close to me one of those animated streaks of God’s brightest colours that we call sugar-birds.
1923 [see suikerbekje].
Either of two species of bird of the Promeropidae, Promerops cafer or P. gurneyi, in colour brown, white, and rufous, and with long tails and long, slender, curved beaks; sunbird.
honey-sucker2. Also attributive.
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