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Scarlet-chested Sunbird - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies senegalensis
Photo © by d.flack
Gambia, November 2016
Chalcomitra senegalensis

Nectarinia senegalensis


Length 13-15 cm (5-6 in), mass 12-15 g, males larger than females
Male: Black with iridescent emerald-green crown and chin and scarlet throat and upper breast. Bill, legs and feet black, eyes dark brown.
Female: Upper parts and face dark brown, eyebrow whitish. Chin and throat dark brown, feathers edged light brown. Breast and belly pale yellow, streaked dark brown.


Male, Subspecies gutturalis - note the pollen on the crown and behind the eye.
Photo © by Kiki
Kruger National Park, South Africa, November 2005

Sub-Saharan Africa:
Western Africa: Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola
Eastern Africa: Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi
Southern Africa: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland


This is one of the seven Sunbirds that have recently been moved into the genus Chalcomitra from the genus Nectarinia.


Female, Subspecies gutturalis
Photo © by rudydbn
Illovo Glen, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, June 2005

Chalcomitra senegalensis has 5 subspecies, variation being mostly in the colour of the underparts[1]:

  • C. s. senegalensis:
Senegal to northern Ghana and northern Nigeria
  • C. s. acik:
  • C. s. proteus:
  • C. s. lamperti:
  • C. s. gutturalis:


Male, Subspecies lamperti
Photo © by max1
Masai Mara, Kenya, September 2019

Broadleaved open woodland, moist thornveld, coastal bush, parks and gardens.



Often in groups at nectar sources where males frequently chase conspecifics and other Sunbirds. Also hunts insects and spiders, but usually alone. May hover to feed, but usually perches.


The male defends the the breeding territory. The nest is pear-shaped with a hood over the entrance hole, and suspended from a branch. It is built by the female using dry grass, stems, leaves and/or bark bound by spider web. Usually two eggs are laid and incubated by the female. Chicks and fledglings are fed by both parents for up to eight weeks. Parasitised by Klaas's Cuckoo and, less often, African Emerald Cuckoo and Dideric Cuckoo


Click on photo for larger image


  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. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved December 2016)
  4. Hockey, PAR, WRJ Dean, and PG Ryan, eds. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 978-0620340533

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