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


  • 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)


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 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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