Green-tailed Sunbird

Green-tailed Sunbird
Green-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga nipalensis, male, Dulong Gorge, Yunnan, China, elev. 2730 m (8,960 ft.), June. (Craig Brelsford)
Green-tailed Sunbird
Female, Dulong Gorge, June. (Craig Brelsford)

Green-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga nipalensis ranges northern India to southern Thailand, with koelzi resident southern Tibet to central Sichuan and western Yunnan. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Moist montane valleys, to 3600 m (11,800 ft.), lower in winter. Like other sunbirds, specializes in but is not restricted to consuming nectar; also takes insects and spiders. ID & COMPARISON Male has metallic-green head (face sides usually look black) and elongated tail, often tending more toward blue than green; outer tail feathers tipped white (as seen from below); purplish-red upper mantle reaching breast side over bend of wing; olive lower mantle; brownish-olive wings; and yellow rump. Underparts yellow with red wash on breast. Female has typical coloring of genus, being predominantly olive-green above and with a grey head and yellowish underparts; but has no rump band (unlike Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird A. gouldiae, Black-throated Sunbird A. saturata, and Fork-tailed Sunbird A. christinae) and has white undertail tips, unlike Fire-tailed Sunbird A. ignicauda. Tail tapers more at tip than more square tail of female Fire-tailed. BARE PARTS Bill black; feet brown. VOICE Loud, high-pitched, sometimes monotonous trilling and twittering. — 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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