Scientific Name: Cinnyris asiaticus
Name: Purple Sunbird
This small sunbird has a relatively short bill, a dark and short square ended tail with distinctive sexual dimorphism. Less than 10 cm long they have a down-curved bill with brush-tipped tubular tongues that aid in nectar feeding. The male is glossy metallic bluish to purplish black on the upper parts with the wings appearing dark brown. The breeding male also has underparts of the same purplish black, but non-breeding males may show a central streak of black on yellow underparts. (Birds in this eclipse plumage were once designated as a species, C. currucaria.) In the breeding plumage, the male can be confused with the syntopic Loten's sunbird which has a long bill and a distinctive broad maroon band on the breast. Breeding males will sometimes show their yellow pectoral tufts in displays. There is a patch of bright blue on the shoulder of breeding males. The maroon shine on the feathers of the collar around the neck is visible mainly during the breeding seasons.
Size in cm:
Females are olive brown above with a yellowish underside. There is a pale supercilium beyond the eye. There is a darkish eye stripe. The throat and breast are yellow, becoming pale towards the vent. The outer tail feathers are tipped in white both in the male and female.
They are seen in pairs or small groups and aggregations may be found in gardens with suitable flowers. They feed mainly on nectar but also take fruits and insects. Groups of as many as 40 to 50 individuals have sometimes been noted.
Size in Inch
blue (Bird may have more colors)
Purple Sunbirds mostly feed on nectar - occasionally hovering in front of the flowers like a hummingbird, but generally, they prefer to perch in front of them to retrieve the nectar.
Habit and habited:
To a lesser extent, they also eat fruits, small berries and cultivated grapes.
To varying degrees, they will also feed on small insects and spiders, particularly when raising young. Insects are usually captured in mid-air.
Purple Sunbirds are mostly resident (non-migratory) and are distributed from sub-Saharan tropical Africa, the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula through the Indian sub-continent and into Southeast Asia.
Short-distance / local movements (particularly in the drier areas of northwestern India and Pakistan) and altitudinal migration pattern have been noted in some parts of their range - most likely as they follow the flowering seasons of their favorite feeding flowers.
Purple sunbirds are quite noisy, with a song that is described as a rapid rattle followed by ringing, metallic notes; and calls that sound like chwit, chwin notes or humming zit zit.
The purple sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus) is a small sunbird. Like other sunbirds they feed mainly on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. They have a fast and direct flight and can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird but often perch at the base of flowers. The males appear all black except in some lighting when the purple iridescence becomes visible. Females are olive above and yellowish below.
The breeding male is a metallic blue and purple overall with maroon feathers on the breast. The female is olive above and yellow below. The nonbreeding male of this species is primarily olive-brown with blackish upperparts and yellow underparts with blue-black band running down the throat and chest. Females can be distinguished from female Purple-rumped Sunbirds by its yellow (not grayish) throat. Seen in pairs, feeding chiefly on nectar, but they also take insects. Breeding males display by fluttering their wings in front of females while singing. They are found in gardens, cultivated areas, and forests.
These birds are very vociferous and will call and will join to mob owls or other predators. The song is rapid rattle followed by ringing, metallic notes. Other call notes include a "chwit" or "chwing!" notes. The primary breeding season is before the Monsoons, April to June in northern India and January to June in Sri Lanka. While feeding they flick their wings. They rarely hover at flowers and usually perch to forage for nectar. They are important pollinators of some plant species such as Butea monosperma, Acacia, Woodfordia and Dendrophthoe. but they sometimes steal nectar by slitting flowers such as Hamelia patens at the base. They are known to feed on small berries such as those of Salvadora persica and cultivated grapes. Insects are sometimes caught by flycatching.
In courtship displays the male raises his head, fans his tail and flutters with partly open wings that expose the pectoral tufts and sings before the female. The nest is a pouch made of cobwebs, thin strips of vegetation, lichens and bark. The entrance hole on the side is often shaded by an overhanging projection. The nest is built almost entirely by the female. The nest material is not woven and most of it is held together by cobwebs. About five to ten days may be taken in the building of the nest. The inner cavity is expanded by the bird by opening its wing and turning around on the inside. In Sri Lanka and in southern India, it sometimes builds its nest by modifying and lining the cobweb structures formed by colonial or 'social' spiders, Stegodyphus sarasinorum (Eresidae). Two eggs are usually laid. The nest is usually suspended from a low branch, often of thorny plants but are sometimes built close to human habitations, attached to wires or other man-made objects and even indoors in an unused toilet. Only the female incubates the eggs which hatch after 15 to 17 days. Males assist in feeding the chicks although females involve themselves to a greater extent, making more trips as the chicks get older.
Sunbirds have been known to live for nearly 22 years in captivity.