Humming Bird?

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Two years ago, I saw a tiny flying fauna moving super-fast from flower to flower to collect nectar. You can watch the video below to get an idea how fast it is:

Click Here for wider video

Though it only showed up for a few seconds, from its body as small as a baby finger and the way it hovered, I was pretty sure that it was a humming bird. However, all the bird guides I met said the same thing, “No way! Sabah has no humming bird. It must be a sun bird.” I was kind of upset that nobody believed me, so I wanted to take the photo of the humming bird to prove them wrong.

blooming jasmine flower
blooming jasmine flower close-up
However, I didn’t see the bird again for next few years that I almost forgot about this. Then the blossom jasmine flowers in my garden attracted the “old friend” again. My mom saw it first coz she water the flower during dusk. When I was having my dinner around 6:30pm in the following day, my sibling told me that the humming bird was around again.

Hummingbird Hawk Moth
Humming Bird Hawk Moth
Quickly I stopped eating and grabbed a camera to shoot the humming bird. And to my surprise, there were 3 or 4 of them collecting nectar. When they fly pass me, I can even hear the high-speed flapping wings.

Hummingbird Hawk Moth collects nectar
Hummingbird Hawk-Moth
They fly really fast but I was still able to take some photos. However, when I zoom into these photos for closer look, I find that they are not bird! With a pair of antenna and a long proboscis, I can tell that they are moth.

Humming-bird Hawk Moth feeding on flower
To find out what they are, I search the Internet and learn that they are Hummingbird Hawk Moth (species: Macroglossum stellatarum), a moth that looks remarkably like a humming bird while feeding on flowers and always mistaken as a hummingbird.

hovering Humming Bird Hawk-Moth
Humming Bird Hawk-Moth is common in Northern Hemisphere regions such as Japan and Europe. There is very limited documentation of this insect in Malaysia so I’m not sure how widespread they are in Sabah. Though it is not the humming bird that I has been looking for, I still think that it’s an extraordinary bug. The wings of Humming-bird Hawk Moth can beat at an incredible speed of 70 – 80 times per second, which makes audible humming sound and allows them to hover in the same way real hummingbirds do.

Did you see it in your garden too? Please share with me.

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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  • Hazel Chee

    Your blog has been REEALLYY helpful! My family and I have been seeing this in my garden quite often and we thought it was a hummingbird but my online research led me here. If it really is rarely Β seen in Malaysia (I’m from KL btw) then this is definitely something to be excited about πŸ˜€

  • mysabah

    Hi Hazel, thanks for sharing. Now I know this moth is also found in KL.Β  πŸ™‚Β  It’s really a cool bug.

  • Joshy

    I saw one in my garden at KL few days ago around 6:45 pm.

  • Hi Joshy, I didn’t see it for some times in Sabah. May be they all fly to KL already. πŸ˜€

  • Jun

    http://imgur.com/pJcBsc1

    I took this photo a few days ago in my garden in KL.

  • Good job Jun. Look like a humming bird isn’t it? πŸ™‚

  • Ahsatan Seliam

    Cool bug. I saw it before in my parent’s farm (somewhere in sabah also). I tot it was a humming bird but the one i saw is red.

  • It’s probably a different species of Hawk moth πŸ™‚