Metabolic rate and body temperature of an African sun bird, Nectarinia chalybea: daily rhythm and the effect of ambient temperature
AbstractThe oxygen consumption (VO2) of the lesser double-collared sunbird, Nectarinia chalybea, was measured at ambient temperatures (Ta) from 7 to 35°C. The diel variation in body temperature (Tb) and wet thermal conductance (C) was also determined. The sunbirds (mean mass 8.36 g ± S.E. 0.21 g) showed a pronounced diel cycle of VO2 with a mean reduction of 50% at night. Basal metabolic rate was estimated to be 3.23 ml O2/g.h, which is 88% of the predicted value for a passerine bird of this size. There was a mean reduction in Tb of 3.6°C at night. Both day and night values of Tb decreased with decreaSing Ta, as did individual values of C. Winter breeding in the south-west Cape is energetically stressful for lesser double-collared sunbirds, but they have the physiological capacity to reduce their energy expenditure substantially at night.
S. Afr. J. Zool. 1997, 32(2)