Family Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)

Least Concern

Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus)


French: Souimanga asiatique German: Purpurnektarvogel Spanish: Suimanga asiático

Certhia asiatica


, 1790,

Gurgaon, Haryana, north India


Form brevirostris exhibits some morphological and plumage differences from others, but no vocal differences. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. a. brevirostris (Blanford, 1873) – E Arabian Peninsula (N United Arab Emirates, N Oman), and SE Iran, E Afghanistan, Pakistan and W India (W Rajasthan and W Gujarat).
  • C. a. asiaticus (Latham, 1790) – India (except W & E), Nepal and Sri Lanka.
  • C. a. intermedius (A. O. Hume, 1870) – E India (Assam S to Odisha and N Andhra Pradesh) and Bangladesh E to Myanmar, S China (S Yunnan) and Indochina.
  • Descriptive notes

    10–11 cm; male 6·9–11 g, female 5–10 g. Male nominate race breeding is dark metallic blue and purple above, with uppertail black, glossed blue;... read more


    Song an excited “cheewit-cheewit” rapidly ­repeated 2–6 times, usually by... read more


    Usually around flowering shrubs and trees in dry and deciduous forests, thorn-scrub, cultivation... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small insects, and spiders (Araneae); nectar, also fruits, particularly of mistletoes (Loranthaceae) but also grapes. Forages singly, in... read more


    Breeding in all months, chiefly in dry season; laying recorded in Jan–Jul (also nestlings and a female with enlarged ovary, both Jul... read more


    Mostly resident. Wanders to S Oman in non-breeding season, when moves in search of flowers; flocks... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in Indian Subcontinent and N Oman. Expanding in United Arab Emirates in response to afforestation, which provides new nesting habitats. Occurs... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cheke, R. & Mann, C. (2019). Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus). 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 17 September 2019).