Scarlet-chested sunbird

Scarlet-chested sunbird
Chalcomitra senegalensis
Photo by Mike Pope (World-Birds)

Common name:
scarlet-chested sunbird (en); beija-flor-de-peito-escarlate (pt); souïmanga à poitrine rouge (fr); suimanga pechiescarlata (es); rotbrust-glanzköpfchen (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Nectariniidae

This species is found in sub-Saharan Africa, from southern Mauritania and Guinea to Ethiopia and south to northern Namibia and north-eastern South Africa. The scarlet-chested sunbird is absent from the Congo river basin and from the coastal regions around the Gulf of Guinea.

These birds are 13-15 cm long and have a wingspan of 25-30 cm. They weigh 10-14 g.

The scarlet-chested sunbird is mostly found in dry savannas and scrublands, but also in dry grasslands, orchards and rural gardens, arable land and urban parks and gardens.

They feed on the nectar of various flowers, namely Erythrina, Leonotis, Loranthus, Aloe, Tithonia, Schotia, Kniphofia, Crotalaria, Callistemon, Canna, Tapinanthus, Bombax, Phragmanthera and Albizia, but show some preference for large red blooms. They also eat spiders and insects such as grubs, ants, termite alates, caterpillars, crickets, leafhoppers, beetles and flies.

Scarlet-chested sunbirds can breed all year round, varying between different parts of their range. they are monogamous solitary nesters and the female builds the nest alone. The nest is a suspended oval or pear-shaped structure, made of grasses, dead leaves, plant down and spider webs, decorated with seeds, leaves, strings, feathers and even pieces of paper. it is suspended from the tip of a branch, 2-10 m above the ground. There the female lays 1-3 cream, greenish or pinkish eggs with darker markings, which she incubates alone for 13-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 15-20 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as abundant and widespread in savanna woodlands. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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