Family Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)

Least Concern

Black-throated Sunbird (Aethopyga saturata)


French: Souimanga sombre German: Schwarzkehl-Nektarvogel Spanish: Suimanga gorjinegro

Cinnyris saturata


, 1836,



Geographical variation well marked in some cases: race johnsi differs from others in its yellow-streaked bright red breast to upper belly (3); paler maroon neck sides, mantle and scapulars (1); and perhaps slightly smaller size (ns); song (no recordings available) requires study. Birds in Cambodia (except SW) of uncertain racial identity. Proposed race ariel, described from near Nokrek (in Garo Hills), in NE India, considered inseparable from assamensis. Ten subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. s. saturata (Hodgson, 1836) – Black-throated Sunbird – Himalayas from N India (W Uttarakhand) E to Nepal, Bhutan and S China (SE Xizang).
  • A. s. assamensis (Horsfield, 1840) – #RNE India, W & N Myanmar and S China (W Yunnan).
  • A. s. petersi Deignan, 1948 – E Myanmar, N Thailand, N Laos, N Vietnam and SE China (SE Yunnan, Guangxi, Guangdong).
  • A. s. galenae Deignan, 1948 – NW Thailand.
  • A. s. sanguinipectus Walden, 1875 – SE Myanmar (Kayah S to Tenasserim).
  • A. s. anomala Richmond, 1900 – S Thailand (S to Trang).
  • A. s. wrayi Sharpe, 1887 – Malay Peninsula S of Trang.
  • A. s. ochra Deignan, 1948 – S Laos (Bolovens Plateau) and C Vietnam.
  • A. s. cambodiana Delacour, 1948 – SE Thailand and SW Cambodia.
  • A. s. johnsi Robinson & Kloss, 1919 – Langbian Sunbird – S Vietnam (Langbian Mts).
  • Descriptive notes

    Male 14–15 cm, 5·5–6·5g; female 10 cm, 5·5 g. Male with elongated central tail feathers. Male nominate race has crown and nape metallic... read more


    Song a twittering containing series of sharp, high-pitched “swi”, “tis” and... read more


    Primary forest, heavily disturbed forest and regenerating secondary forest, dense jungle edge,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Nectar, including that from Aeschynanthus, Rhododendron and Lantana, and perhaps pollen; also arthropods.... read more


    Laying in Jan–Mar in India, Feb–May and Sept in Nepal, Apr in Myanmar; in Malay Peninsula, laying calculated as Feb–Apr... read more


    Mostly resident. Kown to make some seasonal altitudinal movements in higher parts of range.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common in India, Nepal and Bhutan; uncommon in Thailand; common to uncommon in Malay Peninsula. Status in Bangladesh uncertain; may... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cheke, R. & Mann, C. (2019). Black-throated Sunbird (Aethopyga saturata). 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 20 September 2019).