Malachite sunbird

Malachite sunbird
Nectarinia famosa

Common name:
malachite sunbird (en); beija-flor-verde (pt); souïmanga malachite (fr); suimanga malaquita (es); malachitnektarvogel (de)
Order Passeriformes
Family Nectarinidae
This African species has a discontinuous distribution across East Africa, with a separate and larger popuation in southern Africa where they occur in most of South Africa, southern Namibia, and along the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Males are larger than females due to the very long central tail feather, being 25-26 cm long while the females are 15 cm long. They weigh 15 g.

Malachite sunbirds occur in a variety of habitats, ranging from alpine and mountain grasslands to scrubby hillsides in mountainous areas, as well as arid steppes, riverine thornbush, gardens, parks and plantations.

They mostly eat nectar, foraging among the flowers of different plants including Aloe, Protea, Olea, Cotyledon orbiculata, Watsonia, Disa, Kniphofia, Leonotis, Tecoma capensis, Strelitzia, Glischorocolla formosa, Melianthus villosus, Buddleja salviifolia, Greyia sutherlandia, Jacaranda mimosifolia and Nicotiana glauca. Occasionally they also take arthropods and small lizars.


These monogamous, solitary nesters breed in September-December. The female builds the nest alone, a teardrop-shaped construction built of dry grass and plant down bound with spider web. It is usually placed in a low bush 1-2 m above ground. There she lays 1-4 eggs, which she incubates alone for 12-14 days. The chicks are cared for mainly by the female, fledging 13-17 days after hatching, but only becoming fully independent 24 days later.
IUCN status – LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and, although the global population size has not been quantified, the species is described as locally common in areas of suitable habitat. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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