Family Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)

Least Concern

Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)


French: Souimanga à gorge brune German: Braunkehl-Nektarvogel Spanish: Suimanga gorjipardo

Certhia malacensis


, 1786,

Malacca, Peninsular Malaysia


Often treated as conspecific with A. griseigularis, but the two exhibit constant differences in plumage and measurements (see latter species, below); close also to A. rhodolaemus. Races sometimes thought to form two groups (“chlorigaster group” with heliolusius and wiglesworthi; “malacensis group” with all other subspecies) based on plumage of males; such division, however, not supported in examination of museum specimens, which revealed significant geographical overlap in characters. Geographical variation not well marked; races anambae, erixanthus and bornensis possibly better merged with nominate, in which paraguae and mjobergi were formerly included; heliolusius has in the past been synonymized with chlorigaster. In addition, population on Lombok (W Lesser Sundas) of uncertain racial affiliation, belonging either with nominate or with convergens; further study required. Birds from Marinduque and Camiguin Sur (C & S Philippines) reportedly represent two further races, but no descriptions yet formally published. Other proposed races are, off W Sumatra, pelloptilus (Simeulue I), pollostus (Mt Lembu, on Nias I) and nesaeus (Pagai Is), all included in nominate, as also are javanicus (Java) and baweanus (Bawean I, N of Java); basilanicus (Basilan, in S Philippines), included in heliolusius; sanghiranus (Sangihe I, N of Sulawesi), merged with heliocalus; and nesophilus (Mantehage, off NE Sulawesi) and citrinus (described from Wawo, in SE Sulawesi), both synonymized with celebensis. Race bornensis sometimes misspelt borneensis (original description checked). Sixteen subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. m. malacensis (Scopoli, 1786) – SW & S Myanmar, Thailand, Indochina, Peninsular Malaysia and nearby islands, Sumatra and satellites, most of Borneo (Sarawak and Kalimantan), Karimata I (off SW Borneo), Java (including Madura) and Bali; recently recorded in S Yunnan (China)#R.
  • A. m. anambae Oberholser, 1917 – Anamba Is (E of Peninsular Malaysia).
  • A. m. erixanthus Oberholser, 1932 – Natuna Is.
  • A. m. bornensis Riley, 1920 – N Borneo (Sabah and Brunei).
  • A. m. paraguae Riley, 1920 – Calamian Group (Calauit, Culion), Palawan and Balabac, in W Philippine Is.
  • A. m. cagayanensis Mearns, 1905 – Cagayan Sulu (S of Palawan).
  • A. m. chlorigaster Sharpe, 1877 – C Philippines (Lubang, Marinduque, Tablas, Sibuyan, Masbate, Panay, Negros, Cebu, probably also Romblon and Ticao).
  • A. m. heliolusius Oberholser, 1923 – Basilan and W & C Mindanao (including Talicud), in S Philippines.
  • A. m. wiglesworthi E. J. O. Hartert, 1902 – Sulu Archipelago (Basbas, Jolo, Tawitawi, Sanga-Sanga, Bongao, Simunul, probably also Pangamian).
  • A. m. iris Parkes, 1971 – SW Sulu Is (Tumindao, Sibutu, probably also Sitanki), in far SW Philippines.
  • A. m. mjobergi Bangs & J. L. Peters, 1927 – Maratua I, off E Borneo.
  • A. m. heliocalus Oberholser, 1923 – Sangihe and Siau, N of Sulawesi.
  • A. m. celebensis Shelley, 1878 – Sulawesi, including Mantehage, Manadotua, Manterawu, Talisei, Bangka, Togian Is, Labuan Blanda, Kabaena, Muna and Butung.
  • A. m. extremus Mees, 1966 – Banggai Is and Sula Archipelago.
  • A. m. convergens Rensch, 1929 – Lesser Sundas (Sumbawa, Komodo, Padar, Flores, Adonara, Satonda, Lembata, Pantar, Alor and, perhaps this race, Lombok).
  • A. m. rubrigena Rensch, 1931 – Sumba (in SW Lesser Sundas).
  • Descriptive notes

    12·1–13·5 cm; male 11·1–13·5 g, female 7·4–13·1 g. Male nominate race is oily metallic purple-green above, with... read more


    Song, from prominent perch, of 2–4 notes, “sweet-sweet”, or “swit-swit-... read more


    Various types of forest, but generally not in interior; habitats include mangroves, plantations,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including caterpillars, also spiders (Araneae); also fruits, including mistletoes (Loranthaceae), and seeds of Dillenia... read more


    Laying Feb–Jul and Sept in Thailand, and Jun in Sumatra; laying Dec/Jan–Aug, fledglings in May, in Peninsular Malaysia; may... read more


    Nothing recorded.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common in Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Greater Sundas, Philippines, Sulawesi and Sangihe I; scarce to locally common or fairly... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cheke, R. & Mann, C. (2019). Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis). 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).