Amethyst Sunbird


Amethyst sunbird - Chalcomitra amethystina

Alternative common name – black sunbird

Amethyst Sunbird Appearance

©Nigel Dennis
Amethyst Sunbird.

Amethyst sunbird are a sexual dichromatism species. (The male and female have different plumage).

The male amethyst sunbird is around 14 cm in length. The male’s plumage is black, with a metallic green forecrown.

The iridescent red to purple throat and shoulder patches make this sunbird distinctive. The feet, legs and bill are black.

The female amethyst sunbird’s plumage is dark brown, with a pale yellow, streaked with brown, breast and belly.

A pale eyebrow separates this female for the other similar looking female sunbirds, like the Scarlet-chested sunbird.


The amethyst sunbird feeds on nectar, insects and spiders.

Amethyst Sunbird Breeding

Amethyst sunbird are monogamous. The female builds a thick walled oval shaped nest of grass and leaves, often held together with spider’s webs, with a hooded entrance. The female lays two eggs that are incubated for around 16 days. 

The amethyst sunbird is a brood host to Klaas cuckoo and the Green-backed honeybird.

Amethyst Sunbird Behaviour

Amethyst sunbird are often seen in groups when feeding at flowering trees. During courtship the male will hop around on a branch to attract a female’s attention. When a female approaches, he will first droop one wing, then the other wing, followed by dropping both wings. The wings will then be fluttered.



Amethyst Sunbird Distribution and Habitat

Amethyst sunbird are found in open woodland and are common in wooded parks and gardens. The amethyst sunbird can be seen in the northern and eastern parts of South Africa and the coastal belt, from Mozambique to Cape Town.