Humming bird of Sabah?

Humming Bird in Malaysia?

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:

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. Probably you saw 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 so I almost forgot about this. Then the blossom jasmine flowers in my garden attracted the “old friend” again. My mom saw it first because she water the flowers 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 birds! 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.

Tour package to climb Mount Kinabalu

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 think that it’s still 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

28 thoughts on “Humming Bird in Malaysia?

  1. 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  seen in Malaysia (I’m from KL btw) then this is definitely something to be excited about ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. 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.

  3. Thanks for the information. i met these moths on 19 feb 2018 in my kampung in pokok sena, kedah. i thought they were hummingbirds. The flying technique mimicking the hummingbird made my wife and i amazed with them.
    They were amazingly fast….


  4. Baru ja nampak pagi ni…trbg dr bunga ke bunga…laju betul…..ingatkan hummingbird..x sempat ttgkp gambr…changloon kedah

  5. I kept seeing this moth in my garden for 3 years. I started to plant more flowers to attract them thinking they were hummingbirds. Now I know it is a moth. Still want to attract more of them. -tawau, sabah-

  6. I saw one in my parents garden on and off for the past few months (MCO really a good time to stay home and be outdoors XD). At first I thought it was a hummingbird or sunbird but the size and proboscis led me to look up Google which led me to this site!

    1. Hey bro, your video and photos are nice! I was using my Canon EOS 50D for the photos. But this old model has no video recording function, so I used a cheap Olympus compact camera for the video.

  7. I saw one at dusk today so it was low light but I managed to get my son to witness. Told him it could be a hummingbird but a bit small. And I didnโ€™t know if such small hummingbird exists๐Ÿ˜…. Highlighted to him that it seems more like a type of insect but Iโ€™ve not seen one that moves quite like it. Thanks to your page, I can safely tell him itโ€™s actually a hawk moth. Btw, Iโ€™m from Puchong Selangor.

    1. It’s cool that you find the answer here. ๐Ÿ™‚ I didn’t expect so many people find my article about hummingbird.

  8. I saw one yesterday in my garden at around 7pm. I’ve mistakenly thought it was a hummingbird until i found out that there is no hummingbird in Malaysia. Glad that you’ve shared your photos here. I’ll try to get a shot this evening.

    1. Really miss these moths. I didn’t see them for many years after we removed the jasmine flowers. Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I saw this moth too just now in my backyard garden at the similar timing and location, i.e., 6.30pm and the jasmine plant. Btw I stay in Cheras, KL.

  10. Hi, I saw this humming bird hoovering in our garden yesterday evening in TTDI, KL. My mom, who is an avid bird-watcher squashed by excitement by saying “Humming birds don’t exist in Malaysia la !” et voila….. I found your website ๐Ÿ˜… the photos and other comments were super informative

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