Family Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)

Least Concern

Fire-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga ignicauda)


French: Souimanga queue-de-feu German: Feuerschwanz-Nektarvogel Spanish: Suimanga colafuego

Cinnyris ignicauda


, 1836,

#R, Nepal


Proposed race exultans, described from S China (Salween Divide, in W Yunnan), considered inseparable from nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. i. ignicauda (Hodgson, 1836) – N & NE India (from E Himachal Pradesh E in Himalayas to Arunachal Pradesh, also Meghalaya E to Nagaland and S to Manipur and Chittagongs), Nepal, Bhutan, S China (S Xizang, and W Sichuan S to C Yunnan) and N Myanmar; rare non-breeding visitor to E Myanmar#R and NW Thailand#R; one recent record from Bangladesh#R.
  • A. i. flavescens E. C. S. Baker, 1921 – NE India (Lushai Hills, in E Mizoram) and adjacent W Myanmar (Chin Hills).
  • Descriptive notes

    Male 15–20 cm, 7·5–9 g; female 8·5–11 cm. Distinctive sunbird with bill only slightly decurved, male with striking plumage tail streamers. Male nominate... read more


    Song a series of descending very thin, high-pitched, well-separated notes. Calls include high-... read more


    Coniferous and oak forest, particularly with rhododendron (Rhododendron) understorey, also... read more

    Food and feeding

    Nectar, small insects, and spiders (Araneae). Forages singly and in pairs; outside breeding season also in groups, and joins mixed-species... read more


    Laying in Apr–Jun in India and nest-building in May in Nepal. Nest built mostly by female, with little, if any, assistance from male... read more


    Seasonal altitudinal movements in Himalayas. Some 3000 birds seen moving N on a Nov morning along... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread and fairly common in India, Nepal and Bhutan; considered very common in Myanmar above tree-line (3900 m) in Adung valley. Probably... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cheke, R. & Mann, C. (2019). Fire-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga ignicauda). 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 21 August 2019).