Family Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)

Least Concern

Copper Sunbird (Cinnyris cupreus)


French: Souimanga cuivré German: Kupfernektarvogel Spanish: Suimanga cobrizo

Certhia cuprea


, 1812,

#R, Malembo, Cabinda, Angola


Nominate race exhibits clinal variation in size, which increases from W to E. Described race septentrionalis (from Mpumu, in Uganda) is synonymized with nominate and vaughanjonesi (from Kasempa, in Zambia) with chalceus. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. cupreus (Shaw, 1812) – SW Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia and Sierra Leone E to Cameroon, Central African Republic, S Sudan, South Sudan, W Ethiopia, Uganda and W Kenya (W of Rift Valley), and from Gabon and NW Angola (Cabinda) E to DRCongo (except SE) and NW Tanzania.
  • C. c. chalceus (Hartlaub, 1862) – Angola (except Cabinda), SE DRCongo, Zambia, SW Tanzania, Malawi, NE Namibia (Caprivi Strip), N Botswana (Chobe National Park, Kasane), C Mozambique and N Zimbabwe.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13 cm; male 8·4–11·4g (chalceus), 6·8–8·4 g (cupreus, W Africa) and 7·5–11 g (cupreus, Kenya), female 7·3–10·2 g... read more


    Song of nominate race an oft-repeated sequence of c. 18 “chip” notes, speeding up into trill of up... read more


    Mainly savannas; also degraded forest, woodland, swamps, mangroves, coastal thickets, cultivations... read more

    Food and feeding

    Nectar, fruits, insects, sometimes taken in mid-air, and spiders (Araneae). Forages singly, males sometimes in groups; sometimes joins... read more


    Egg-laying recorded in May–Jun and Sept–Oct in Gambia, Aug–Oct in Sierra Leone, Jun–Jul in Ghana and Togo, Aug... read more


    Partially migratory in W Africa, where some move N into savanna during rainy season (Apr–Oct... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Abundant or common throughout most of range; locally common in Zambia and Malawi, and uncommon in Sudan. May breed rarely in extreme SW Mauritania (... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cheke, R. & Mann, C. (2019). Copper Sunbird (Cinnyris cupreus). 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).