What are these small birds in the Philippines that can hover like hummingbirds? They had yellow throats/necks, chests, bellies, slightly curved beaks, and brown backs and heads. They were only slightly bigger than a human thumb. They are not commonly spotted in the area where these pictures were taken.

I searched online and found a Wikipedia article about the yellow-bellied whistler AKA Philippine whistler (Pachycephala philippinensis), a bird that looks similar and is endemic to the Philippines. However, the picture in the article showed a bird with a straight beak and no yellow throat. So I’m not sure if these birds are the same species or not.

These photos were taken on May 28, 2023, in a rural backyard located in Western Visayas, Philippines. The area is abundant with plants and trees. Due to the proximity of a typhoon, the weather was cloudy and windy, and it started raining shortly after these photos were taken. The birds seemed to be a couple, playing and hovering around a guyabano tree.

Photos of the birds hovering:

photo of the birds described above

Photos of the birds perched on a tree branch — there are two birds in each of the following three photos:

(Click/tap on an image thumbnail below to view the higher-resolution, original image.)

photo of the two birds described abovephoto of the two birds described above

photo of the two birds described above

Cropped photos of the birds perched on a tree branch:

Click/tap on an image thumbnail below to view the higher-resolution, original image.

  • 4
    Maybe you can take away some of the photos, especially the second section does seem to have a lot of repeats.
    – Willeke
    May 28, 2023 at 16:02
  • @Willeke I’ve converted some of the images into image thumbnails that link to their higher-resolution original versions to significantly reduce the amount of space they occupy on the screen. I think I should include those photos in the post and not remove any more, so the birds can be seen from multiple views. May 29, 2023 at 5:16

1 Answer 1


Looks like it is a female or possibly juvenile olive-backed sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis), based on pictures on the web. I ID'd it by searching "birds phillipines" in google and flicking through a couple of links. The distinguishing characteristics are the curved beak, olive-green back and the small pale bar over the eyes.

This is a common species of bird throughout SE Asia and even into Australia.

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