Beautiful Sunbird (Cinnyris pulchellus) Fact Sheet, 2016
Adult male Beautiful Sunbird, Cinnyris pulchellus, in iridescent breeding plumage.
Species: Cinnyris pulchellus - Beautiful Sunbird
Subspecies: C. p. pulchellus (nominate race)
Tail with elongations
Tail without elongations
** Sample size ≤ 3 individuals
|Distribution & Status||Behavior & Ecology|
Populations in Wild
|Reproduction & Development||Species Highlights|
Courtship: Males defend territories. Elaborate displays to females. May chase until he has the female's attention. Then sings, spreads his wings, and flicks his tail.
Clutch Size: 1-2 eggs
Nest: Suspended from tree branches. Purse-shaped. Made of bark, twigs, dried grass, leaves, feathers, etc. Tightly bound with spiders' webs. Lined with feathers or vegetable down. Only female builds nest.
Hatchlings: Only female broods. Fed by female and male. Likely eat insects and spiders.
Fledging period: up to 14-18 days; fledglings fed for up to another two weeks
About This Fact Sheet
© 2016 San Diego Zoo Global
How to cite: Beautiful Sunbird (Cinnyris pulchellus) Fact Sheet, 2016. c2016. San Diego (California, USA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. http://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/beautifulsunbird.
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)
Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to email@example.com.
Note about citations used in this fact sheet: Because few scientific studies have been conducted on Beautiful Sunbirds, some information in this fact sheet relates to sunbirds more generally. These facts are noted:
- In the body text (e.g., "Some sunbirds aggressively defend nectar...")
- With an in-text citation and literature source (e.g., "[sunbirds, general] (Cheke and Mann 2008)")
- With an in-text citation stating the species' common name (or genera) and literature source (e.g., [White-bellied Sunbird] (Purchase et al. 2013)
Many thanks to Robert A. Cheke, PhD, for providing expert content review of this fact sheet. Dr. Cheke is one of the world’s foremost sunbird experts. His work frequently takes him to sub-Saharan Africa, where he is able to follow his interest in sunbirds—a passion first ignited when he first visited Africa as a young student.
Notably, his research more broadly encompasses connections between ornithology, entomology, health, and climate. As Professor of Tropical Zoology and Principal Scientist at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich (United Kingdom), Dr. Cheke studies the biology and control of vector-borne diseases and agricultural pests.
He has authored 250 scientific papers and two books, notably the authoritative natural history guide Sunbirds: a Guide to the Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers, Spiderhunters and Sugarbirds of the World, for which he is now preparing a second edition with his co-author Dr. Clive Mann and illustrator Richard Allen.
Also, thank you to Dave Rimlinger and Athena Wilson for sharing their knowledge of sunbird husbandry for the Managed Care section of this fact sheet.
Mr. Rimlinger, Curator of Birds, oversees husbandry for Beautiful Sunbirds and a staggering number of other bird species at the San Diego Zoo. He is also deeply involved with the Zoo’s Avian Propagation Center, an off-exhibit facility for hatching and raising endangered and delicate birds.
Ms. Wilson, a bird keeper at the San Diego Zoo, has spent a great deal of time caring for Beautiful Sunbirds and developing best husbandry practices for the Zoo. She created a Captive Breeding Review for Beautiful Sunbirds in 2011.
Finally, to the many artists who granted permission to use their images—thank you for furthering the visual and educational quality of this fact sheet.
A Sunbird of a Different Color
Adult male Beautiful Sunbird, Cinnyris pulchellus, in non-breeding plumage.
The coloration of the Beautiful Sunbird varies widely, even between sexes and age classes. See Plumage.
Image details: Taken 02 September 2012 in Tanzania.