Family Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)

Least Concern

Gould's Sunbird (Aethopyga gouldiae)


French: Souimanga de Gould German: Gouldnektarvogel Spanish: Suimanga de Gould
Other common names: Mrs Gould's Sunbird

Cinnyris gouldiæ


, 1831,

Himalayas = Simla–Almora district, north India


Race dabryii distinctive for its red belly (score 3) and annamensis for its lack of a yellow rump (score 3), but all other plumage differences are few and minor; vocalizations need to be checked. Additional proposed races are trochiloidea (described from Blue Mountain, in Lushai Hills of NE India) and melittae (Mt Victoria, in W Myanmar), both subsumed into isolata, and harrietae (Phu Kobo, near Xiengkhouang, in Laos) and bangsi (Hongsurkou, in Hubei, in C China), which are synonymized with dabryii. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. g. gouldiae (Vigors, 1831) – Gould's Sunbird – Himalayas from N India (Sutlej Valley E to Arunachal Pradesh) E to S China (Kobdo, in SE Xizang).
  • A. g. isolata E. C. S. Baker, 1925 – NE India (Assam S of R Brahmaputra, Meghalaya, Nagaland except extreme E, Manipur), E Bangladesh (S to Chittagong Hills) and W Myanmar (Chin Hills).
  • A. g. dabryii (J. P. Verreaux, 1867) – Scarlet-breasted Sunbird – C & S China (including Pome, in SE Xizang) S to extreme NE India (extreme E Nagaland), Myanmar (except W & S) and N Indochina; non-breeding also S Myanmar (S to N Tenasserim) and N Thailand.
  • A. g. annamensis Robinson & Kloss, 1919 – Annam Sunbird – S Laos (Bolovens Plateau) and SC Vietnam (Langbian Mts).
  • Descriptive notes

    Male 14–15 cm, 6·5–8 g; female 10 cm, 6·1 g. Relatively short-billed sunbird, male long-tailed. Male nominate race has metallic violet crown, ear-... read more


    Song described as a powerful, sharply seesawing sound. Calls include sharp scissors-like “... read more


    Various forest types, including oak (Quercus) forest, ridgetop forest and conifers, scrub-... read more

    Food and feeding

    Nectar, spiders (Araneae) and insects. Forages at all levels, typically among lower branches and undergrowth; often at mistletoes (... read more


    Season mid-Mar to mid-Jun in Nepal and Apr–Aug in India. Nest pear-shaped or oval, 14 × 7 cm, entrance with reinforced rim... read more


    Seasonal altitudinal movements in higher parts of range; some post-breeding movement in NE India... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally uncommon in India, but locally common in E; widespread but uncommon in Nepal; frequent in Bhutan; not uncommon in Myanmar. Possibly only a... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cheke, R. & Mann, C. (2019). Gould's Sunbird (Aethopyga gouldiae). 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).