Olive-backed Sunbird

Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis rhizophorae, also known as Garden Sunbird, is resident southern Yunnan, Guangxi, Guangdong, and Hainan. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Lowland forests, especially coastal scrub; also parks and towns. Feeds primarily on nectar, flitting from one flower to the next, often in small, noisy parties. Usually perches by flower but sometimes will hover, using decurved bill for probing and collection; also takes insects. Makes hanging nest typical of sunbirds. ID & COMPARISON Male has oily metallic blue-black throat and upper breast; upperparts olive-green. Charcoal breast band bordered above by maroon sub-band; “shoulders” have bright yellow or orange pectoral tufts, shown in display. Underparts of male rhizophorae greyish-white with yellow tinge. Tail short and square; tipped white. Female olive-green above (wings darker), yellow below (yellower than female Purple Sunbird C. asiaticus), with white on tail, and more or less pronounced whitish eyebrow and dark ear coverts. Male eclipse similar to female, but has narrow purple (often looks black) gular stripe and no blue on wings, unlike Purple Sunbird. Juvenile similar to female but has yellow gape. BARE PARTS Bill, feet black. VOICE Variable calls typical of family, including a warbling, high-pitched song. — Craig Brelsford


shanghaibirding.com 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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