Family Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)

Least Concern

Souimanga Sunbird (Cinnyris sovimanga)


French: Souimanga malgache German: Malegassennektarvogel Spanish: Suimanga malgache
Other common names: Madagascar Sunbird, Abbott's Sunbird (abbotti, buchenorum)

Certhia sovimanga

J. F. Gmelin

, 1788,



Species name sometimes spelt “souimanga”, but that is an unjustified emendation. Present species forms a clade with C. humbloti, C. comorensis, C. coquerellii and C. dussumieri; this clade may have colonized Indian Ocean islands from continental Africa (at earliest 3.9 million years ago) initially through Comoros. Races abbotti and buchenorum have been (and continue to be) given species rank on basis of their dark belly, but molecular analysis places buchenorum closer to Madagascar taxa#R, hence split untenable. Race apolis intergrades with nominate in S Madagascar (Petriky region). Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. abbotti Ridgway, 1894 – Assumption I, in Aldabra Is.
  • C. s. buchenorum J. G. Williams, 1953 – E Aldabra Is (Cosmoledo, Astove).
  • C. s. aldabrensis Ridgway, 1894 – Aldabra I.
  • C. s. sovimanga (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) – Madagascar (except SW) and Glorieuses Is.
  • C. s. apolis E. J. O. Hartert, 1920 – SW Madagascar (E to Ankapoky).
  • Descriptive notes

    10–11 cm; male 5·5–8·5 g, female 5·5–7·6 g. Male nominate race breeding has crown to mantle, upper back and lesser upperwing-... read more


    Apparent song of short warbling phrases, with or without harsher notes. Calls include loud chirps,... read more


    Forests, including mangroves, spiny subdesert vegetation, secondary growth, plantations, gardens;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including beetles (Coleoptera), Hymenoptera, bugs (Hemiptera) and Orthoptera; also spiders (Araneae) and other small arthropods;... read more


    In Madagascar, breeds from start of rains (in Oct) until Mar in NW and Jan in SE (where also fledglings Sept–Nov), but begins Jul or... read more


    None recorded.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Abundant throughout almost whole of Madagascar. Apparently very numerous also on islands elsewhere in range.

    Recommended citation

    Cheke, R. & Mann, C. (2019). Souimanga Sunbird (Cinnyris sovimanga). 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).