Family Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)

Least Concern

Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird (Anthreptes orientalis)


French: Souimanga du Kenya German: Schwalbennektarvogel Spanish: Suimanga keniata
Other common names: Kenya Violet-backed Sunbird

Anthreptes orientalis


, 1880,

Lado, on Bahr-el-Jebel (White Nile), Sudan


See A. gabonicus. Proposed races neumanni (described from Afgoi, in S Somalia) and barbouri (from Dodoma, in Tanzania) both considered insufficiently differentiated from birds elsewhere in range. Monotypic.


SE South Sudan, Ethiopia and NW & S Somalia S to N Uganda, Kenya and NE & WC Tanzania, also Rwanda.

Descriptive notes

12 cm; 8–12 g. Plump short-billed sunbird. Male has head and chin to nape and mantle iridescent bluish-violet, with back to rump iridescent bluish-green, uppertail-... read more


Song a brief series of rising and falling twitters, “too-wit-woo-tweu, zeet-zeet”; call 1 or 2 “... read more


Woodland, including junipers (Juniperus) in highlands, and dry bush country. Prefers drier... read more

Food and feeding

Insects and spiders (Araneae); nectar. Searches among foliage and bark in manner of Old World warbler (Sylviidae). Visits Leonotis... read more


Egg-laying in Nov–Mar in Sudan and Apr–Jun Ethiopia; recorded in all months except Mar and Sept in E Africa. Territorial. Nest... read more


No data.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Common in Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Uganda; uncommon in Kenya. Occurs in several protected areas, e.g. Awash National Park, in Ethiopia, and... read more

Recommended citation

Cheke, R. & Mann, C. (2019). Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird (Anthreptes orientalis). 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).