Purple Sunbird

Purple Sunbird Cinnyris asiaticus occurs Arabian Peninsula to Southeast Asia. In China, intermedius rare resident southern and western Yunnan. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Thin deciduous forests in lowlands and hills to 1500 m (4,920 ft.). Uses short, decurved bill and bristly tongue to probe for and lap up nectar. Hovers. ID & COMPARISON Male appears black in poor light, but better light reveals glossy purple body (sometimes greenish-blue above, purple on throat, and darkest on belly). Tail and wings blackish, but wings turn brown through wear. Has yellow and orange pectoral tufts and narrow, maroon breast band (sometimes difficult to see). Tail short, square-ended. Female like Olive-backed Sunbird C. jugularis but greyer above and paler yellow on underparts; also has less white on tail. Eclipse male has purple gular streak like eclipse Olive-backed but has in addition blue wing coverts. Juvenile similar to female but has yellow gape. BARE PARTS Bill black; feet black. Song rapid, excited chatter, with whirrs and whizzes. VOICE Highly vocal. Call a harsh, tuneless cheep or high-pitched tseep. — 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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