The sunbirds and spiderhunters (family Nectariniidae) are small passerine birds found in the Old World. There are about 145 species with species diversity being highest in equatorial regions. They usually have decurved bills, as most sunbirds feed largely on nectar. They also feed on insects and spiders, especially when feeding young. Many sunbirds are brightly coloured, often with iridescent feathers, particularly in the males. Many species also have especially long tail feathers.
The sugarbirds (family, Promeropidae) are small passerine birds, restricted to southern Africa. They resemble large, long-tailed sunbirds, but but may be more closely related to the Australian honeyeaters.
Longevities of southern African sunbirds
The Birds of Africa handbook lists 81 sunbird species in Africa (excluding the Indian Ocean islands species), but there are few longevity records outside southern Africa. Although generally small, many southern African sunbird species have reached longevities over 8 years. The two sugarbird species are also included in the table below. The oldest known sunbird is an Olive Sunbird of 14 years 10 months (ring AC03697) in Malawi. See longevities of other birds here.
Table. Longevity records for southern African sugarbirds and sunbirds
(from SAFRING database, y=years, m=months, d=days)
|749||Cape Sugarbird||Promerops cafer||14y 7m 14d||484931|
|750||Gurney’s Sugarbird||Promerops gurneyi||13y 0m 27d||480688|
|751||Malachite Sunbird||Nectarinia famosa||10y 0m 14d||AB59947|
|752||Bronze Sunbird||Nectarinia kilimensis||9y 8m 29d||AA65742|
|753||Orange-breasted Sunbird||Anthobaphes violacea||11y 4m 5d||W86963|
|754||Coppery Sunbird||Nectarinia cuprea||6y 0m 15d||AB08761|
|755||Marico Sunbird||Cinnyris mariquensis||7y 9m 7d||AF93671|
|756||Purple-banded Sunbird||Cinnyris bifasciatus||7y 10m 24d||X36854|
|758||Greater Double-collared Sunbird||Cinnyris afer||11y 1m 21d||AD51111|
|759||Miombo Doublecollared Sunbird||Nectarinia manoensis||9y 1m 4d||AA65982|
|760||Southern Double-collared Sunbird||Cinnyris chalybeus||11y 10m 24d||X85134|
|761||Neergaard’s Sunbird||Cinnyris neergaardi||0y 5m 13d||X96987|
|762||Variable Sunbird||Cinnyris venustus||8y 3m 25d||X74386|
|763||White-bellied Sunbird||Cinnyris talatala||13y 11m 28d||A97607|
|764||Dusky Sunbird||Cinnyris fuscus||3y 0m 3d||L08732|
|765||Grey Sunbird||Cyanomitra veroxii||5y 7m 2d||AF37772|
|766||Olive Sunbird||Cyanomitra olivacea||14y 10m 1d||AC03697|
|771||Collared Sunbird||Hedydipna collaris||10y 0m 8d||AA55981|
|772||Amethyst Sunbird||Chalcomitra amethystina||12y 0m 20d||AF75048|
|774||Scarlet-chested Sunbird||Chalcomitra senegalensis||9y 2m 11d||AA52818|
Biometrics of southern African sunbirds and sugarbirds
Larger (by mass) sunbirds have longer bill lengths, as shown neatly in the graph below. The two sugarbirds are slightly heavier relative to bill length than expected, relative to the sunbirds.
The smallest sunbird (by mass) is Neergaard’s Sunbird at an average mass of 6.7g. The sunbird with the shortest bill is the Collared Sunbird, with an average bill length of 15 mm. The largest sunbird, by both mass and bill length, is the Malachite Sunbird.
|If you would like to ring sunbirds or other birds, book a trip with Dieter at Birds4Africa !|