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Purple-banded Sunbird - BirdForum Opus

Cinnyris bifasciatus

Nectarinia bifasciata

Photo by Alan Manson
Ngwenya, adjacent to Kruger NP, South Africa.


Length 11 cm, mass 7.5 g. Adult breeding male: The upperparts are mostly irridescent green; the upper tail coverts are irridescent blue. The tail is blackish brown and the flight feathers are blackish. The throat and the upper breast are iridescent green, separated from a 10-12 mm wide purple breast band by a narrower irridescent dark blue band. The belly is black. The bill is fairly short, and is curved along its entire length. Adult female: The head and upperparts are olive, the tail is blackish, and the flight feathers dark brown. The throat is dull yellow streaked brown, and the breast and belly are buff with diffuse streaking.

Similar Species

The Mariqua Sunbird is larger, and has a longer bill.


Central and eastern Africa from Gabon to Kenya in the north, and south to Angola and eastern South Africa.


This is one of the many Sunbirds that have recently been moved to the genus Cinnyris from the genus Nectarinia.

Cinnyris bifasciatus has three subspecies which differ in the shade of the colour of their plumage, the width of the breast band, and bill length: Cinnyris bifasciatus bifasciatus from Gabon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, and Swaziland; Cinnyris bifasciatus microrhynchus from Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania; and Cinnyris bifasciatus strophium from Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.


Coastal bush, mangroves, forest edges and riverine forests and thicket.


Food includes nectar, insects and spiders. They are found singly or in pairs, except when birds (up to several hundred in some cases) aggregate at good nectar sources. These Sunbirds move restlessly between food sources, males constantly chasing both females and other males of their own species.


Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ & Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Robert's Birds of Southern Africa, 7th edition. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 0620340533

Lepage D. 2007. Avibase. Search for Cinnyris bifasciatus downloaded 4 October 2007.

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