Family Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)

Least Concern

Little Spiderhunter (Arachnothera longirostra)


French: Petit Arachnothère German: Weißkehl-Spinnenjäger Spanish: Arañero chico

Certhia longirostra


, 1790,

Tippera district, Bangladesh


Until recently considered conspecific with A. dilutior and A. flammifera, which see. Additional proposed races, all considered insufficiently distinct, are vantynei (from Jagalbed, Bombay, in W India), subsumed into nominate, and antelia (Trang, in S Thailand), heliocrita (Selitar, near Singapore), melanchima (upper R Siak, in E Sumatra), hypochra (North Pagai I), and exochra (South Pagai I), all synonymized with cinereicollis. Race cinereicollis originally spelt “cinireicollis” but this is a misspelt Latin word, and must be corrected. Ten subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. l. longirostra (Latham, 1790) – SW, CE & NE India (Western Ghats from Goa region S to W Tamil Nadu and Kerala; E Odisha and N Eastern Ghats; Darjeeling; Arunachal Pradesh S to Meghalaya and Manipur), E Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar E to S China (W Yunnan) and W Thailand (S to Isthmus of Kra).
  • A. l. sordida La Touche, 1921 – extreme S China (S & SE Yunnan, extreme NW Guangxi), NE Thailand and N Indochina.
  • A. l. pallida Delacour, 1932 – SE Thailand and C & S Indochina.
  • A. l. cinereicollis (Vieillot, 1819) – Malay Peninsula (S of Isthmus of Kra) S to Sumatra and satellite islands (except Banyak Is and Nias I).
  • A. l. zarhina Oberholser, 1912 – Banyak Is, off W Sumatra.
  • A. l. niasensis van Oort, 1910 – Nias I, off W Sumatra.
  • A. l. rothschildi van Oort, 1910 – N Natuna Is.
  • A. l. atita Oberholser, 1932 – S Natuna Is.
  • A. l. buettikoferi van Oort, 1910 – Borneo.
  • A. l. prillwitzi E. J. O. Hartert, 1901 – Java (including Madura I) and Bali.
  • Descriptive notes

    13·3–16 cm; male 10·3–16·1 g, female 8·8–13·7 g (race buettikoferi), male 12·5–15·8 g, female 9·3–14 g (cinereicollis). Male nominate race has very long,... read more


    Much geographical variation. Songs include “which-which”, twice per second for c. 2 minutes,... read more


    Understorey of various types of forest, including mangroves, regenerating secondary forest,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Nectar, insects, and spiders (Araneae). Known foodplants include Canna sp., Erythrina, mistletoes (Loranthaceae), ... read more


    Laying in India in Dec–Aug (chiefly Jan–May) in SW and Jan–Nov (chiefly May–Aug) in Assam; probably Mar–Sept in Nepal, Jan in Thailand, egg... read more


    Altitudinal movements recorded on Mt Mulu, in NW Borneo (Sarawak); movements of up to 6 km recorded... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common in India in Western Ghats and NE; very scarce and local in SE Nepal, where recorded also in C; uncommon in Bhutan;... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cheke, R., Mann, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Little Spiderhunter (Arachnothera longirostra). 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 26 August 2019).