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Beautiful Sunbird (Cinnyris pulchellus) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat

Distribution

  • West and East Africa (Cheke et al. 2001)
  • C. p. pulchellus: Senegal and Guinea-Bissau to Nigeria, Sudan, Eritrea, west Ethiopia, north-east borders of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda east to northwest Kenya (Fry et al. 2000; Cheke et al. 2001)
  • C. p. melanogastrus: West and central Kenya, south through dry interior of Tanzania (Fry et al. 2000; Cheke et al. 2001)
  • Range overlaps between subspecies only occur during migration (Cheke et al. 2001)

Habitat

Vegetation and habitats

  • Thorn savannas, arid acacia scrub (Cheke et al. 2001; Sinclair and Ryan 2010)
    • Dry Sahel and savanna belt of West Africa and edges of rivers (Cheke et al. 2001)
  • Semi-arid or dry forest, thickets, and wooded grassland (Backhurst et al. 1980; Sinclair and Ryan 2010; Borrow and Demey 2014; Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2014)
  • Generally near edge of water (Mackworth-Praed and Grant 1973; Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2014)
  • Riparian systems (Borrow and Demey 2014; Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2014)
  • Villages, gardens, and cultivated land in drier lowland regions (Fry et al. 2000)
    • For example, Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria (Mackworth-Praed and Grant 1973; Backhurst et al. 1980; Cheke et al. 2001; Cheke and Mann 2008; Borrow and Demey 2014)
    • People may grow flowering plants to attract sunbirds [sunbirds, general] (Cheke and Mann 2008)
    • Video: C. pulchellus bathing in sprinkler spray
  • Less frequently, mangrove scrub and coastal beaches (e.g., Sierra Leone) (Fry et al. 2000; Cheke et al. 2001; Cheke and Mann 2008)

Elevation range

  • Beach and coastal habitats: at or near sea level (Winkler et al. 2015)
  • Semi-arid habitats: 700-1300 m (Backhurst et al. 1980; Cheke et al. 2001)
  • Scrub habitat: 400-1900 m (Backhurst et al. 1980; Stevenson and Fanshawe 2002)

Distribution Map

 Beautiful Sunbird distribution

Beautiful sunbird (Cinnyris pulchellus) distribution. Adapted from www.d-maps.com according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here or on map for detailed distribution (IUCN).

At Home Among the Branches

Immature Beautiful Sunbird hangs from a branch

An immature Beautiful Sunbird, Cinnyris pulchellus, dangles from a branch.

The Beautiful Sunbird often makes its home in acacia trees.

Image credit: © Thomas Varto Nielsen at African Bird Club. All rights reserved. Used with permission from the artist.

Image details: Taken April 2013 in Ethiopia.

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