Scarlet-chested Sunbird

© Shem Compion


Scarlet-chested sunbird - Chalcomitra senegalensis

Scarlet-chested Sunbird Appearance

The scarlet-chested sunbird is a sexual dichromatism species of bird (The male and female have different plumage).

The male scarlet-chested sunbird is larger than the female and is around 14 cm in length. The male’s plumage is black, with an iridescent emerald green crown and chin. The throat and upper chest are scarlet. The feet, legs and bill are black.

The female scarlet-chested sunbird’s plumage is greyish olive above, with heavily mottled underparts, which helps to distinguish them from the female African black sunbird.


The scarlet-chested sunbird feeds on nectar, insects and spiders. This sunbird favours nectar from aloes and will feed by either perching or hovering.

Scarlet-chested Sunbird Breeding

Scarlet-chested sunbirds are monogamous, and build an untidy oval or pear-shaped nest of grass and leaves, often held together with spider’s webs, mid-canopy. The female lays one to three eggs, that are incubated for around 16 days. 
The scarlet-chested sunbird is a brood host to Klaas and Diderick cuckoos.

Scarlet-chested Sunbird Behaviour

Scarlet-chested sunbirds are often seen in small groups when feeding at a source of nectar. The male will sing from the top of a tree, puffing out his chest, to declare his presence and territory, and will defend his territory aggressively.



Scarlet-chested Sunbird Distribution and Habitat

Scarlet-chested sunbirds are found in open woodland and thornveld. They are a common park and garden visitors. Scarlet-chested sunbird can be seen in the eastern parts of South Africa.