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Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia famosa)

Is a small nectivorous bird found in the southern part of the Southern African region.

The sunbirds are a group of small Old World passerine birds, and are placed within the family Nectariniidae, which is found across Africa, the Middle East and into South-east Asia.

The Malchite Sunbird has two subspecies. The nominate N. f. famosa occurs mainly in South Africa, Lesotho and western Swaziland, although its range just extends into southern Namibia and Zimbabwe. N. f. cupreonitens breeds in the highlands from Ethiopia south to northern Mozambique.

The breeding male Malachite Sunbird, which has very long central tail feathers, is 25cm long, and the shorter-tailed female 15 cm.
The adult male is metallic green when breeding, with blackish-green wings with small yellow pectoral patches.

In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the male’s upperparts are brown apart from the green wings and tail, the latter retaining the elongated feathers. The underparts in eclipse plumage are yellow, flecked with green.

The female has brown upperparts and dull yellow underparts with some indistinct streaking on the breast. Her tail is square-ended. The juvenile resembles the female.


This large sunbird is found in hilly fynbos (including protea stands as well as areas with aloes) and cool montane and coastal scrub, up to 2,800m altitude in South Africa.

This species, like most sunbirds, feed mainly on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. This sunbird may hunt in a similar manner to a flycatcher, hawking for insect prey from a perch.

Wikipedia quote


Male in South Africa
Female feedingMost sunbird species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed most of the time. As a fairly large sunbird, the Malachite Sunbird is no exception. They have long thin down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues, both adaptations to nectar feeding.

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Additional Photos by Alex Fan Moniz (LondonBoy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 83 W: 0 N: 328] (1796)
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