Black-throated Sunbird

Black-throated Sunbird
Black-throated Sunbird Aethopyga saturata, male, Dulong Gorge, Yunnan, China, elev. 1410 m (4,620 ft.), June. (Craig Brelsford)
Black-throated Sunbird
Male, Gaoligong Mountains, Yunnan, elev. 1730 m (5,670 ft.), February. (Craig Brelsford)

Black-throated Sunbird Aethopyga saturata ranges Himalayas to Malay Peninsula, in China from Tibet to Guangxi. Nominate southern Tibet, assamensis western Yunnan, and petersi southeast Yunnan and Guangxi. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Forest and forest edge, also parks and gardens; nectarivorous, but not exclusively so; also takes insects and spiders, in particular to feed young. ID & COMPARISON Male dark, with black throat and breast and maroon mantle. Elongated tail metallic purplish blue with white tips to outer tail feathers (as seen from below); crown, nape, and sides of throat metallic purple. Rump yellow; wings brownish-black. Belly greyish-olive (saturata), grey (assamensis), or yellowish-white (petersi). Black on breast more extensive in saturata and assamensis. Female has green-olive pigmentation typical of Aethopyga females but is darker and drabber than most female Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird A. gouldiae; yellow rump narrower and slightly paler than rump of Mrs. Gould’s. BARE PARTS Bill black, feet black or brownish; more greyish in female. Juvenile yellowish on feet and at base of bill. VOICE Calls include a rapid, sustained, unmelodious twitter, which may suddenly turn into a warbling song. — Craig Brelsford

THE SUNBIRDS OF CHINA has research on all 13 species in the family Nectariniidae in China. Click any link below:

Ruby-cheeked Sunbird Chalcoparia singalensis
Brown-throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis
Purple Sunbird Cinnyris asiaticus
Olive-backed Sunbird C. jugularis
Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae
Green-tailed Sunbird A. nipalensis
Fork-tailed Sunbird A. christinae
Black-throated Sunbird A. saturata
Crimson Sunbird A. siparaja
Fire-tailed Sunbird A. ignicauda
Purple-naped Sunbird Kurochkinegramma hypogrammicum
Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra
Streaked Spiderhunter A. magna


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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