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Purple Sunbird - BirdForum Opus

Breeding male
Photo © by Seyed Babak Mus
Bam town, Iran
Cinnyris asiaticus

Nectarinia asiatica


Male Purple in eclipse plumage
Photo © by dineshagg
Bharatpur, India, November 2005

10–11 cm (4-4¼ in) long.
The bill is thin and curved downwards. Their tongues are tubular and brush tipped.
Adult breeding male: Mainly glossy purple.
Adult male, eclipse plumage: Yellow-grey upperparts and a yellow breast with a blue central streak extending to the belly.
Female: Yellow-grey upperparts and yellowish under parts, and a faint supercilium.


Asia from the Persian Gulf to Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan tropical Africa.


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


Photo © by Rajiv Lather
Karnal, India

There are 3 subspecies[1]:

  • C. a. brevirostris:
  • C. a. asiaticus:
  • C. a. intermedius:


Forest and cultivation.



Photo © by mountainflute
Pune, India

Their main source of food is nectar, though they also eat insects, spiders and fruit, particularly mistletoes and grapes.


They build a suspended nest in a tree laying 1-3 eggs.


Flight is fast and direct. They can take nectar whilst hovering, but more usually perch to feed.


The call is a humming zit zit.
A complex series of calls forms a song, as heard in the clip below.

Listen in an external program Listen in an external program
Recording by Alok Tewari
Faridabad, Haryana, India, Aug.-2016
Recorded in an urban garden.


Click images to see larger version


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Trek Nature
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved Nov 2017)

Recommended Citation

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