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African SUNBIRDs

Order Passeriformes    Family Nectariniidae


This family is comprised of sunbirds and spiderhunters. The family is distributed throughout Africa, southern Asia and just reaches northern Australia. The sunbirds have counterparts in two very distantly related groups: the hummingbirds of the Americas and the honeyeaters of Australia. The resemblances are due to convergent evolution due to the similar nectar-feeding lifestyle. The spiderhunters, of the genus Arachnothera, are distinct in appearance from the other members of the family. They are typically larger than the other sunbirds, with drab brown plumage and long down-curved beaks.

Most sunbirds feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. Fruit is also part of the diet of some species. Sunbirds have long thin down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues, both adaptations to their nectar feeding. Some species can hover like hummingbirds, but most perch while feeding. Their flight is fast and direct on their short wings. Males are usually quite colorful, partly due to iridescence which can cause them to appear of varied appearance depending on the lighting (thus their name, sunbirds). Females are not iridescencent and thus less colorful. The nests of sunbirds are generally purse-shaped, enclosed, suspended from thin branches with generous use of spiderweb.

Sunbirds and hummingbirds have similar tongues due to convergent evolution. Wikipedia reports the following about hummingbirds; perhaps it also applies to sunbirds." Hummingbirds drink with their tongue by rapidly lapping nectar. Their tongues have tubes which run down their lengths and help the hummingbirds drink the nectar. High-speed photography has revealed that the tubes open down their sides as the tongue goes into the nectar, and then close around the nectar, trapping it so it can be pulled back into the beak.

See also Asian Sunbirds.


Genus Anabathmis

Sunbird, Newton's  Anabathmis newtonii  Found: São Tomé and Príncipe (islands off west coast Africa)
Image by: 1) Henrik_Gronvold  2) Muchaxo


Sunbird, Principe  Anabathmis hartlaubii  Found: São Tomé and Príncipe (islands off west coast Africa)
Image by: 1, 2) John Gerrard Keulemans


Sunbird, Reichenbach's  Anabathmis reichenbachii  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans  2, 3) Set_of_Rabi



Genus Anthobaphes  - 1 species

Sunbird, Orange-breasted   Anthobaphes violacea  Found: South Africa
Sometimes include in genus Nectarinia.
Image by: 1) Craig Adam - South Africa  2, 3) Derek Keats
1) Female  2, 3) Male



Genus Anthreptes

Sunbird, Anchieta's  Anthreptes anchietae Found: DR Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) Dave_Appleton - Malawi


Sunbird, Banded  Anthreptes rubritorques Found: Tanzania
Image by: 1) ddarbela


Sunbird, Brown-throated also Plain-throated Sunbird  Anthreptes malacensis  Found: southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines
The male Brown-throated Sunbird has iridescent green and purple upperparts; chestnut on wing-coverts, scapulars; mainly yellow underparts; brown throat bordered with black and purple. Female has olive-green upperparts; yellowish underparts.
Image by: 1) Lip_kee  2) NatureAtYourBackyard 3) Doug_Janson - Singapore
1) Female 2, 3) Male


Sunbird, Eastern Violet-backed also Kenya Violet-backed Sunbird  Anthreptes orientalis Found: east Africa
Image by: 1) Dave_Curtis - Kenya  2) Peter_Steward


Sunbird, Little Green  Anthreptes seimundi Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Miichael_And_Helen_Cox


Sunbird, Gray-chinned  also  Green Sunbird  Anthreptes rectirostris Found: Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone
Image by: 1, 3) John Gerrard Keulemans  2) Dave_Curtis
1, 2) Female   3) Male


Sunbird, Mouse-brown also Mangrove Sunbird  Anthreptes gabonicus  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Paul Lathbury 2) Steve Garvie


Sunbird, Plain  Anthreptes simplex Found: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok  3, 4) Amar_Singh
1) Pair, 2) Female 3, 4) Male


Sunbird, Plain-backed  also Blue-throated Sunbird  Anthreptes reichenowi  Found: Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe
Image by: 1) Graham_Ekins - Mozambique 2) Steve Garvie
1) Female (red pollen on breast) 2) Male


Sunbird, Red-throated  Anthreptes rhodolaemus Found: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand
Image by: 1) Benjamin Naden  2) John Gerrard Keulemans 3) Adolph_Kohr
1) Female 2, 3) Male


Sunbird, Uluguru Violet-backed  Anthreptes neglectus Found: Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique
Image by: 1) hbw.com


Sunbird, Violet-tailed  Anthreptes aurantius Found: Africa
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) Julie DeWilde
2) Male


Sunbird, Western Violet-backed  Anthreptes longuemarei Found: Africa
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) Nigel Voaden
1) Female 2) Male



Genus Chalcomitra

Sunbird, Amethyst also Black Sunbird Chalcomitra amethystina also Nectarinia amethystina  Found: Africa
Not to be confused with the Black Sunbird of Asia, Leptocoma sericea.
Image by: 1) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya  2) Mike Goulding   3) Dick Daniels - South Africa
1) Female  2, 3) Male


Sunbird, Buff-throated Chalcomitra adelberti  Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 2) John Gerrard Keulemans  3) Francesco_Veronesi - Ghana
1) Female 2, 3) Male


Sunbird, Carmelite  Chalcomitra fuliginosa  Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 3) John Gerrard Keulemans  2) Seth_of_Rabi - Nigeria
1) Female 2) Immature male 3) Male


Sunbrid, Green-throated  Chalcomitra rubescens  Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 2) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya  3) Francesco Veronesi - Kenya
1) Female  2, 3) Male


Sunbird, Hunter's  Chalcomitra hunteri  Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 2) Dick Daniels - Hell’s Gate National Park, Kenya   3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) Dick - Nairobi National Park, Kenya
1, 2) Female - Hell’s Gate National Park    3 - 8) Male - Nairobi National Park


Sunbird, Scarlet-chested  Chalcomitra senegalensis also Nectarinia senegalensis  Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 5) Joseph Mochoge - Gilgil, Kenya2, 3, 4) Dick Daniels near Kruger National Park, South Africa    6) Cristiano Crolle - Windhoek Namibia   7) Dick - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya



Sunbird, Socotra  Chalcomitra balfouri  Found: Socotra islands (Indian Ocean)
Image by: 1) Joseph Smit



Genus Cinnyris
This genus has species in Africa and Asia

Sunbird, Anjouan  Cinnyris comorensis  Found: Comoros islands (Indian Ocean off east coast Africa)
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) Pete_Morris


Sunbird, Bate's  Cinnyris batesi  Found: west-central Africa
Image by: 1) hbw.com


Sunbird, Beautiful  Cinnyris pulchellus  Found: Africa
The male Greater Double-collared Sunbird has metallic green upperparts, head, upper-breast; broad red breast band separated from the green by narrow blue band; pale gray rest of underparts.
The Prigogine's Sunbird a subspecies of the Greater Double-collared Sunbird. It would then be Cinnyris aferprigoginei.
The Stuhlmann's Sunbird a subspecies of the Greater Double-collared Sunbird. It would then be Cinnyris afer stuhlmanni.
Image by: 1) Gisela Braun - Gambia  2) Kevin


Sunbird, Black-bellied  Cinnyris nectarinioides  Found: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania
Image by: 1) ChriKo - Kenya  2) Peter_Steward - Kenya


Sunbird, Congo  Cinnyris congensis  Found: Gabon, DR Congo
Image by: 1) hbw.com


Sunbird, Copper  Cinnyris cupreus  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Sabine's_Sunbird - Uganda  2) Greg_Miles


Sunbird, Dusky  Cinnyris fuscus  Found: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa
Image by: 1) Alan_Manson - South Africa  2) Johann_du_Preez - South Africa
1, 2) Nonbreeding male


Sunbird, Eastern Double-collared Cinnyris mediocris  Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 2) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya  3) Peter Steward - Kenya  4)  Nigel Voaden


Sunbird, Greater Double-collared  Cinnyris afer  Found: South Africa
The male Greater Double-collared Sunbird has metallic green upperparts, head, upper-breast; broad red breast band separated from the green by narrow blue band; pale gray rest of underparts.
The Prigogine's Sunbird a subspecies of the Greater Double-collared Sunbird. It would then be Cinnyris aferprigoginei.
The Stuhlmann's Sunbird a subspecies of the Greater Double-collared Sunbird. It would then be Cinnyris afer stuhlmanni.
Image by: 1) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya  2, 3) Dick Daniels - near Kruger National Park


Sunbird, Humblot's  Cinnyris humbloti  Found: Comoros islands in Indian Ocean east of Africa
Image by: 1) hbw.com


Sunbird, Johanna's  Cinnyris johannae  Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 2) John_Gerrard_Keulemans


Sunbird, Loveridge's  Cinnyris loveridgei  Found: Tanzania
Image by: 1) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya
1) Male


Sunbird, Marico also Mariqua Sunbird  Cinnyris mariquensis Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 2) Hans Hillewaert - Tsumeb, Namibia  3) Jerry Oldenettel - Namibia  4) Ian White
1, 2, 3) Female  4) Male


Sunbird, Madagascar
  also  Malagasy Green Sunbird  Cinnyris notatus  Found: Comoros, Madagascar, Mayotte
Image by: 1, 2) Kristian Svensson
1) Female 2) Male


Sunbird, Mayotte  Cinnyris coquerellii  Found: southeast Cosomos Islands (east of Africa in Indian Ocean)
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) Roger_Le_Guen


Sunbird, Miombo   Cinnyris manoensis  Found: south-central Africa
Image by: 1) Dave_Appleton  2) Hans_Hillewaert


Sunbird, Montane Double-collared also Ludwig's Double-collared Sunbird  Cinnyris ludovicensis  Found: western Angola, Malawi
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans


Sunbird, Moreau's  Cinnyris moreaui  Found: Tanzania
Image by: 1) hbw.com


Sunbird, Neergaard's  Cinnyris neergaardi  Found: Mozambique, South Africa
Image by: 1, 2) Henrik_Gronvold
1) Female   2) Male


Sunbird, Northern Double-collared  Cinnyris reichenowi  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) Tom_Tarrant


Sunbird, Olive-bellied  Cinnyris chloropygius  Found: Africa
The male Olive-bellied Sunbird has red breast; olive belly.
Image by: 1, 2) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  3) Francesco_Veronesi - Ghana  4) David_Cook
1) Female 2, 3, 4)Male


Sunbird, Orange-tufted  Cinnyris bouvieri  Found: central Africa
Image by: 1, 2) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  3) Ron_Knight


Sunbird, Oustalet's  Cinnyris oustaleti  Found: Angola, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia
Image by: 1, 2) John_Gerrard_Keulemans
1) Female   2) Male


Sunbird, Palestine  Cinnyris osea  Found: Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa
The male Palestine Sunbird has mainly dark plumage that appears glossy blue or green in sunlight; orange tufts at sides of breasts (hard to detect). Female has gray-brown upperparts; pale underparts.
Image by: 1, 3) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2. 4) characters


Sunbird, Pemba  Cinnyris pembae  Found: Pemba Island (Tanzania)
Image by: 1) Nigel Voaden


Sunbird, Prigogine's  Cinnyris prigoginei  Found: southeast DR Congo, west Uganda
The Prigogine's Sunbird a subspecies of the Greater Double-collared Sunbird. It would then be Cinnyris aferprigoginei.
Image by: 1) hbw.com


Sunbird, Purple-banded  Cinnyris bifasciatus  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Alan Manson - South Africa  2) Joseph Mochoge - Gilgil, Kenya
1) Breeding male  2) nonbreeding male


Sunbird, Red-chested  Cinnyris erythrocercus  Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 2) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya  2) Tom Tarrant
1) Female  2, 3) Male


Sunbird, Regal  Cinnyris regia  Found: Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda
Image by: 1) Aviceda  2) Lip Kee


Sunbird, Rockefeller's  innyris rockefelleri  Found: DR Congo
Image by: 1) Field Museum


Sunbird, Rufous-winged  Cinnyris rufipennis  Found: Tanzania
Image by: 1) Valéry Schollaert


Sunbird, Seychelles  Cinnyris dussumieri  Found: Seychelles Islands (east of Africa in Indian Ocaen)
The male Seychelles Sunbird has iridescent violet-green patch on throat; yellow tufts under wing.
Image by: 1, 3) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) Adrien
1, 2) Female   3) Male


Sunbird, Shelley's  Cinnyris shelleyi  Found: DR Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Image by: 1, 2) Henrik_Gronvold


Sunbird, Shining  Cinnyris habessinicus  Found: northern Africa
The breeding male Shining Sunbird has bright metallic green upperparts, throat; blue crown;  bright red breast-band; with narrow blue boarder; blue-black wings, tail. Female has mainly gray or brown plumage.
Image by: 1, 2) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  3) Tore


Sunbird, Souimanga  Cinnyris souimanga  Found: Madagascar, the Aldabra Group, Glorioso Islands
The breeding male Souimanga Sunbird has metalic green back, head, throat; blackish breast; yellow belly; brown wings, tail. Female has gray-brown upperparts; dull yellow belly; gray throat, breast.
Image by: 1) Goran Bength  2) Tom Junek
1) Female  2) Male


Sunbird, Southern Double-collared also Lesser Double-collared Sunbird   Cinnyris chalybeus  Found: Africa
The male Southern Double-collared Sunbird has metallic green upperparts, head, upper-breast; blue breast-band; pale belly. Female has brown upperparts; yellowish-gray underparts.
Image by: 1, 2, 3) Lip Kee Yap    4) Dick Daniels - Plettenberg Bay, South Africa   5) Mike_Goulding- South Africa
1) Female  2 - 5) Male


Sunbird, Splendid  Cinnyris coccinigastrus  Found: central tropical Africa
The Splendid Sunbird has mainly glossy purple upperparts; dark green back, wing-bar; crimson breast patch. Female has greenish-brown upperparts; yellowish underparts.;
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) Elizabeth Ellis


Sunbird, Stuhlmann's  Cinnyris stuhlmanni  Found: DR Congo, Uganda
The Stuhlmann's Sunbird a subspecies of the Greater Double-collared Sunbird. It would then be Cinnyris afer stuhlmanni.
Image by: 1) brunx


Sunbird, Superb  Cinnyris superbus  Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 2) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  3) Francesco_Veronesi - Ghana


Sunbird, Tsavo  Cinnyris tsavoensis  Found: Kenya, Tanzania
Image by: Peter_Steward


Sunbird, Ursula's  Cinnyris ursulae  Found: Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans


Sunbird, Variable Cinnyris venustus   Found: Africa
The breeding male Variable Sunbird has (in most subspecies) glossy green head, nape, throat; yellow belly. Female has gray-brown upperparts; pale supercilium; yellowish underparts. Nonbreeding male similar to female but has some green, especially on throat.
Image by: 1,  2,  6,  7,  8) Dick Daniels -Tanzania   3, 4, 9, 10) Kenya   5) Joseph Mochoge - Eburu Kenya  11) Yathin S Krishnappa
1 - 5) Female  6 - 11) Male


Sunbird, Violet-breasted  Cinnyris chalcomelas  Found: Kenya, Somalia
Image by: 1) Jan_Willem_Steffelaar


Sunbird, White-breasted also White-bellied Sunbird  Cinnyris talatala  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Derek Keats at Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, South Africa    2) Lip Kee Yap Kwa Madala, Mpumalanga, South Africa 3) Derek Keats



Genus Cyanomitra

Sunbird, Bannerman's  Cyanomitra bannermani  Found: Angola, DR Conga, Zambia
Image by: 1) Johannes Pfleiderer - Barcelona Zoo


Sunbird, Blue-headed  Cyanomitra alinae  Found: Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda, Uganda
Image by: 1) Field Museum


Sunbird, Blue-throated Brown Cyanomitra cyanolaema  Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 2) John_Gerrard_Keulemans


Sunbird, Cameroon  Cyanomitra oritis  Found: Cameroon, Nigeria
Image by: 1) Ron Knight - Mt Cameroon


Sunbird, Olive  also  Eastern Olive Sunbird  Cyanomitra olivacea  Found: Africa
The Western Olive Sunbird is also considered to be subspecies of Eastern Olive Sunbird (Cyanomitra olivacea) . It would thus be Cyanomitra olivacea obscura.
Image by: 1) Alan Manson - South Africa  2) Derek_Keats - Zimbabwe


Sunbird, Green-headed  Cyanomitra verticalis  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keuleman  2) Dave Curtis  3) Tom Tarrant
1, 2) Female 3) Male


Sunbird, Mouse-colored   Cyanomitra veroxii    Found: Africa
Image by: Dick Daniels - Tanzania


Sunbird, Tiny  Cinnyris minullus  Found: west central Africa
Image by: 1) Mike_Barth


Sunbird, Western Olive  Cyanomitra obscura  Found: Africa
The Western Olive Sunbird is also considered to be subspecies of Eastern Olive Sunbird (Cyanomitra olivacea) . It would thus be Cyanomitra olivacea obscura.
Image by: 1) Graham_Ekins - Ghana



Genus Deleornis
Sometimes included in Anthreptes

Sunbird, Fraser's Deleornis fraseri  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) Michael_Andersen


Sunbird, Gray-headed Deleornis axillaris Found: Tanzania, Ugana, Zaire
Image by: 1) Adam_Kennedy



Genus Drepanorhynchus - 1 species

Sunbird, Golden-winged  Drepanorhynchus reichenowi  Found: Africa
The Golden-winged Sunbird has yellow-edged feathers in wings, tail. Breeding male has metallic redish-copper color on upperparts. Male has brownish-black underparts. Female has olive upperparts; yellowish underparts.
Image by: 1) Steve Garvie  2) Tom Tarrant
1) Male



Genus Hedydipna

Sunbird, Amani   Hedydipna pallidigaster  Found: kenya, Tanzania
Image by:  1, 2) Steve_Garvie


Sunbird, Collared  Hedydipna collaris  Found: Africa
The male Collared Sunbird has glossy green upperparts; yellow belly; narrow purple breast-band. Female is duller green upperparts; entirely yellow underparts.
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keuelmans  2) Tom Tarrant 3) Alan Manson


Sunbird, Nile Valley
  Hedydipna metallica  Found: Africa
The breeding male Nile Valley Sunbird has gloss green upperparts; brilliant yellow underparts; long tail. female and nonbreeding male has pale gray upperparts; washed out yellow underparts.
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) ammadoux  3) B_Simpson - Egypt
2) Female 3) Male


Sunbird, Pygmy  Hedydipna platura  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) Ron_Knight



Genus Nectarinia
African sunbirds

Sunbird, Bocage's  Nectarinia bocagii  Found: Angola, DR Congo
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans


Sunbird, Bronze  Nectarinia kilimensis  Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 4) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya  2) Peter Steward - Kenya    3) Joseph Mochoge - Gilgil, Kenya  5, 6) Steve Garvie  
1, 2) Female 3) Juvenile male  4, 5, 6) Male



Sunbird, Malachite Nectarinia famosa   Found: Africa
The breeding male Malachite Sunbird has very long central tail feather; mainly metallic green plumage; blackish-green wings. Nonbreeding male has mainly brown upperparts; green wings, tail; yellow underparts flecked with green. Female has brown upperparts; dull yellow underparts with some indistinct streaking on breast.
Image by:   1) Claude Gibne  2)  Dick Daniels 3) Stig Nygaard   4) Steve Garvie   5) Craig Adam - South Africa
1) Male and Female  2, 3) Female  4, 5) Male



Sunbird, Purple-breasted  Nectarinia purpureiventris  Found: Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda,  Uganda
Image by: 1) Lee_Hunter  2) sunbird - Rwanda  3) Rhys_Marsh


Sunbird, Scarlet-tufted also Red-turfed Sunbird  Nectarinia johnstoni  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans  2) Winfei_Tong  3, 4, 5) Dick Daniels - Tanzania



Sunbird, Tacazze  Nectarinia tacazze  Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 2) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya  3) Veli Pohjonen - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.






SUGARBIRDs

Order Passeriformes    Family Promeropidae - 1 genus

The two species of sugarbirds are restricted entirely to southern Africa. They have few if any close relatives. In general appearance as well as habits they resemble large long-tailed sunbirds. Also, their tongues are similar to those of honeyeaters, but this is because of convergent evolution. They have brownish plumage, the long downcurved bill typical of passerine nectar feeders, and long tail feathers.

Nectar from protea bushes provide most of the energy these species require, and they are considered significant pollinators of the genus. The birds' diet is supplemented by insects attracted to the protea flowers.


Genus Arcanator - 1 species

Dapple-throat   Arcanator orostruthus  Found: Mozambique, Tanzania
Image by: 1) USUWS



Genus Kakamega - 1 species

Illadopsis,_Gray-chested  Kakamega poliothorax  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Artuso - Cameroon
1) Fledgling



Genus Modulatrix

Spot-throat  Modulatrix stictigula  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya  2) John Innes - Tanzania



Genus Promerops

Sugarbird, Cape  Promerops cafer    Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Craig Adam - Hermanus, South Africa  2) DerekKeats  3, 4) Sandy Cole - Hermanus, South Africa 


Sugarbird,_Gurney's  Promerops gurneyi  Found: southern Africa
Image by: 1) Alan Manson  2) Patty McGann  3) Johann_duPreez - South Africa







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