Family Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)

Least Concern

Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja)


French: Souimanga siparaja German: Karmesinnektarvogel Spanish: Suimanga siparaja

Certhia siparaja


, 1822,



Formerly treated often as conspecific with A. vigorsii. Until recently considered conspecific with A. magnifica, which see. Geographical variation seemingly well marked, but a review of taxa indicates a cline from the large seheriae (with long green tail) E and S to the small Sundaic taxa (with short blue tail). Three subspecies groups based largely on differences in female plumage, male iridescence, and presence or absence of tail extensions#R. Conversely, poorly differentiated heliogona may better be synonymized with nominate; also labecula with seheriae, these two intergrading in N West Bengal and Bhutan. Nominate race intergrades with trangensis on W coast of Malay Peninsula. Many additional races described, all considered insufficiently distinct to warrant recognition: thus, off W Sumatra, tinoptila (from Pulo Siumat, near Simeulue I), heliophiletica (Pulo Bangkaru, in Banyak Is), niasensis (Nias I), melanetra (Pulo Lasia), siberu (Siberut I) and photina (North Pagai I) are included in nominate, as also is ochropyrrha (Pulo Rittan, in Anamba Is); mussooriensis (Mussoorie, N India) and miles (Nepal) subsumed into seheriae; terglanei (Bangladesh), andersoni (Sawaddy, E of Bhamo, in N Myanmar) and viridicauda (Tengyueh, in Yunnan, in S China) all included in labecula; and heliotis (Domel I, in Mergui Archipelago) synonymized with cara. In addition, there may be a further undescribed race in Bangladesh. Fourteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. s. seheriae (Tickell, 1833) – Greater Crimson Sunbird – Himalayan foothills in India from W Himachal Pradesh (Kangra) E to Sikkim and Bhutan, S to N West Bengal, E Bihar, E Madhya Pradesh and Odisha (possibly N Andhra Pradesh), and W Bangladesh.
  • A. s. labecula (Horsfield, 1840) – Bhutan, NE India (N West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur) and Bangladesh S to Chittagong Hills, E to Myanmar (except S), S China (S Yunnan), NW Laos and NW Vietnam.
  • A. s. cara A. O. Hume, 1874 – S Myanmar (including Mergui Archipelago) and Thailand (except C, SE & S).
  • A. s. tonkinensis E. J. O. Hartert, 1917 – NE Vietnam and S China (SE Yunnan E to W Guangdong).
  • A. s. owstoni Rothschild, 1910 – Naozhou I (SW Guangdong), in S China.
  • A. s. mangini Delacour & Jabouille, 1924 – SE Thailand and C & S Indochina.
  • A. s. insularis Delacour & Jabouille, 1928 – Phu Quoc I, off S Cambodia.
  • A. s. trangensis Meyer de Schauensee, 1946 – S Thailand and N Malay Peninsula.
  • A. s. siparaja (Raffles, 1822) – Lesser Crimson Sunbird – Malay Peninsula (S of Narathiwat), Anamba Is (E of Peninsular Malaysia), Sumatra (except Aceh) and satellite islands, and Borneo and associated small islands (except Natunas).
  • A. s. nicobarica A. O. Hume, 1873 – S Nicobar Is (Great and Little Nicobars, Kondal I, Meroe I).
  • A. s. natunae Chasen, 1935 – N Natuna Is.
  • A. s. heliogona Oberholser, 1923 – Java.
  • A. s. flavostriata (Wallace, 1865) – Sulawesi Sunbird – N Sulawesi.
  • A. s. beccarii Salvadori, 1875 – C, S & SE Sulawesi, Kabaena, Muna and Butung.
  • Descriptive notes

    Male 11·7–15 cm, 4·8–9 g; female 10 cm, 5–6·9 g. Male nominate race has forehead to centre of crown glossed purple-green, hindcrown and... read more


    Song, often in flight, a loud sharp or chirping trill; described also as very high-pitched, dry,... read more


    Various forest types, including mangroves, heavily disturbed and regenerating secondary forests,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, spiders (Araneae) and nectar. Forages in pairs and singly, also in family parties, usually low down but occasionally in canopy.... read more


    Season Feb–Oct in Indian Subcontinent; laying recorded in Jan–Feb and Apr–Jun in Myanmar, calculated as Mar, Jun and... read more


    Seasonal altitudinal movements in Himalayas. Sight record from Pakistan (Islamabad) in winter... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally fairly common to common throughout wide range; uncommon to rare on Butung (off SE Sulawesi). Occurs in many protected areas... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cheke, R., Mann, C., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja). 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).