Family Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)

Least Concern

Scarlet-chested Sunbird (Chalcomitra senegalensis)


French: Souimanga à poitrine rouge German: Rotbrust-Glanzköpfchen Spanish: Suimanga pechiescarlata

Certhia senegalensis


, 1766,



Sometimes regarded as conspecific with C. hunteri, but the two are ecologically segregated in area of marginal overlap in E Kenya. Although race proteus was often referred to as cruentata, latter name not conserved#R. Several additional races proposed: adamauae (described from Adamawa, in NC Cameroon) considered inseparable from acik; saturatior (from Malanje, in Angola) and inaestimata (Dar es Salaam, in E Tanzania) both synonymized with gutturalis; and aequatorialis (Bukoba, in NW Tanzania) and erythrinae (Trans Nzoia district, in Kenya) both merged with lamperti. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. senegalensis (Linnaeus, 1766) – S Mauritania and Senegal E to Nigeria.
  • C. s. acik (Hartmann, 1866) – N Cameroon, S Chad, N Central African Republic, SW Sudan, W & C South Sudan, NE DRCongo and N Uganda.
  • C. s. proteus (Rüppell, 1840) – SE Sudan, E South Sudan (Boma Hills), Ethiopia and Eritrea.
  • C. s. lamperti (Reichenow, 1897) – S South Sudan (E of White Nile: Imatong Mts, Leboni Forest), E DRCongo (L Albert S to N L Tanganyika), W, C & S Uganda and C Kenya S to W Tanzania.
  • C. s. gutturalis (Linnaeus, 1766) – Angola and S DRCongo E to SE Kenya, Pemba I and Zanzibar, S to C Namibia, N Botswana, Mozambique, and E South Africa (Limpopo Province S to KwaZulu-Natal and N Eastern Cape).
  • Descriptive notes

    13–15 cm; male 7·5–17·2g, female 6·8–15·3 g. Male nominate race has metallic emerald crown with golden sheen, other­wise... read more


    Song involves variations (four or five syllables) of “chip-choop-chip-choo-choo” lasting 1–2... read more


    Wooded savannas, e.g. acacia (Acacia) savanna, miombo, mopane. Also semi-arid thorn-scrub... read more

    Food and feeding

    Nectar, insects, and spiders (Araneae). Nestling diet small insects. Many known foodplants, including species of genera Acacia,... read more


    Laying recorded in Jun and Dec in Gambia, May and Jul–Sept in Ghana, Jul in Niger, Feb–Oct in Nigeria, May and Jul in Cameroon... read more


    Sedentary, but in many populations nomadic and migratory movements occur. Dry-season influxes... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Abundant and widespread in savanna woodland throughout most of range; rare in Mauritania and on Pemba I. Occurs in many protected areas, e.g. Abuko... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cheke, R. & Mann, C. (2019). Scarlet-chested Sunbird (Chalcomitra senegalensis). 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).