Crimson Sunbird

Crimson Sunbird
Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja labecula, male, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China, elev. 540 m (1,780 ft.), January. (Craig Brelsford)

Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja ranges India to Philippines and Greater Sundas. In China, labecula southern Yunnan; tonkinensis southeast Yunnan, Guangxi, and western Guangdong; and owstoni on Naozhou Island off southern coast of Guangdong. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Common in warm lowland forests to 1000 m (3,280 ft.); also gardens and urban parks. Sips nectar, probing flower with long, decurved bill; sometimes hovers. Takes insects and spiders, particularly when feeding young. ID & COMPARISON Male has crimson hood extending to breast, mantle, and lesser and median wing coverts. Forecrown metallic blue; lateral throat stripes metallic purple. Wings brownish with olive edges. Rump lemon-yellow. Long tail purplish-blue. Underparts olive-grey. Male labecula has elongated tail feathers; tonkinensis and owstoni lack them. Female similar to other nondescript Aethopyga females, being olive-green above and yellower below. Female Black-throated Sunbird A. saturata has a yellow rump and is less yellowish; female Fork-tailed Sunbird A. christinae has grey crown and yellow rump and is paler around vent. Male eclipse like female but has orange throat and upper breast. Juvenile plumage similar to female’s. BARE PARTS Bill usually black, but sometimes partly pale (especially lower mandible); feet black, yellowish-brown in juvenile. VOICE Calls include scolding cheeps and trilled whistles. — 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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