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Malachite Sunbird - BirdForum Opus

Male, subspecies famosa
Photo © by Nick Scarle
Vanrhynsdorp, South Africa, August 2016
Nectarinia famosa


Male 24–27 cm (9½-10½ in); female 13–15 cm (5-6 in)

  • Bright metallic green plumage
  • Blackish-green wings
  • Small yellow pectoral patches
  • Elongated tail feathers

Male non-breeding

  • Brown upperparts
  • Green wings and tail

Eclipse Plumage

  • Yellow underparts with green flecks
Female, subspecies famosa
Photo © by louisdup
Eersterivier, South Africa, August 2005


  • Brown upperparts
  • Dull yellow underparts with some indistinct breast streaking
  • Square-ended tail

Juvenile: similar to the female


Western Africa: occurs only in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Eastern Africa: Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi
Southern Africa: Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Swaziland


Male, subspecies cupreonitens
Photo © by Mustafa Adamjee
Brackenhurst, Limuru, Kenya, 12th August 2019


There are 2 subspecies[1]:

  • N. f. cupreonitens:
  • N. f. famosa:


Bamboo in highland areas, scrubby moorland, forest edges.



Diet consists mostly of nectar and insects. They have also been recorded as eating small lizards.


The nest is an oval shape. The clutch consists of 1-3 dark-blotched greenish eggs, which are incubated by the female for two weeks. The chicks are fed by both parents until fledging.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Cheke, R. & Mann, C. (2020). Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia famosa). 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 https://www.hbw.com/node/60019 on 31 January 2020).
  4. The Website of Everything

Recommended Citation

External Links