Family Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)

Least Concern

Amethyst Sunbird (Chalcomitra amethystina)


French: Souimanga améthyste German: Amethystglanzköpfchen Spanish: Suimanga amatista

Certhia amethystina


, 1812,

#R, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


See C. fuliginosa. Other proposed races are adjuncta from E Swaziland (described from Stegi, in Lebombo Mts), which is synonymized with nominate, and doggetti (Ravine, in W Kenya) and kalckreuthi (Mombasa, in SE Kenya), both merged with kirkii. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. a. deminuta Cabanis, 1880 – SE Gabon, S Congo, W & SE DRCongo, Angola, Namibia, N & W Zambia and N Botswana.
  • C. a. kirkii (Shelley, 1876) – SE South Sudan, NE Uganda, Kenya, Somalia (Jubba Valley), Tanzania, Burundi, E & S Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique (S to Coguna) and Zimbabwe.
  • C. a. amethystina (Shaw, 1812) – E Botswana, S Mozambique (S of R Limpopo), Swaziland and E & S South Africa (Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal S to S coastal Western Cape).
  • Descriptive notes

    13–15 cm; male 9·2–18·5g, female 8·3–16·9 g. Male nominate race has iridescent green patch on forehead (sometimes appears silvery light green or gold),... read more


    Complex song consists of ascending and descending rapid twittering, including sequences of “chip-... read more


    Savanna woodlands, forest edge, gardens and hillsides with many flowering aloes (Aloe) and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including emergent termites (Isoptera); also spiders (Araneae), and nectar. A multitude of known foodplants, including species of... read more


    Laying recorded in May, Oct and Dec in Angola, Feb and Sept–Nov in DRCongo, Aug in Somalia, throughout year in E Africa (Sept–... read more


    Primarily resident. Partial migrant locally: influx from W in Zimbabwe in May–Aug, and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Has only very small and limited ranges in Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. Common in most of rest of range. Status uncertain in SE Ethiopia; only three... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cheke, R. & Mann, C. (2019). Amethyst Sunbird (Chalcomitra amethystina). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 September 2019).