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Amethyst Sunbird - BirdForum Opus

Alternative name: African Black Sunbird

Photo © by louisdup
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Chalcomitra amethystina

Nectarinia amethystina


Length 13-14 cm (5-5½ in), mass 11-19 cm.

Adult male: The forecrown is metallic green and the throat, carpal patch and rump are iridescent purple. Otherwise the plumage is jet black (fresh plumage) to brownish black. Appears all-black unless seen at close range in good light. There is no eclipse plumage in this species.

Adult female: Upper parts brown, eyebrow off-white, and underparts off-white, streaked brown.

Immature: Similar to the adult female, but with an orange to brown gape; the immature male has a purple throat.

Photo © by peterday
Sani Pass, South Africa, Jan 2019


Sub-Saharan Africa: Congo, DRC, Tanzania, Kenya and Somalia in the north to South Africa in the south.


This is one of the seven sunbirds that have recently been moved into the genus Chalcomitra from the genus Nectarinia.


Chalcomitra amethystina has three subspecies:[1]

  • C. a. kirkii:
  • C. a. deminuta:
  • C. a. amethystina:
Photo © by BillN
South Africa, February 2016


Woodland, forest edge, and gardens.


Seen singly, in pairs, or in loose groups.


Flight fast and jinking.


Feeds on nectar, juices of fruits, insects and spiders. Use of even good nectar sites is erratic; will fly long distances to isolated food sources.


Monogamous and territorial. The nest is built by the female using spiders web to bind lichen, grass, down, bark and leaves into a pear-shaped structure suspended from a branch. One to three eggs are laid and incubated for 13-18 days by the female. Parasitised by Klaas's Cuckoo, African Emerald Cuckoo and Green-backed Honeyguide.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase

Recommended Citation

External Links

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