Tsavo sunbird

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Tsavo sunbird
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Nectariniidae
Genus: Cinnyris
Species: C. tsavoensis
Binomial name
Cinnyris tsavoensis
(van Someren, 1922)

Nectarinia tsavoensis

The Tsavo sunbird (Cinnyris tsavoensis) is a small passerine bird of Kenya and Tanzania. It is sometimes lumped with the purple-banded sunbird.

Range and habitat[edit]

It is found in the Tsavo region of southeastern Kenya and nearby northern Tanzania, but not on the coast. It lives in arid scrub with Commiphora and Acacia trees and shrubs.[2]


The Tsavo sunbird is 9.5 to 10 cm (3.75 to 4 inches) long. The bill is down-curved and rather short for a sunbird, especially compared to that of the otherwise similar Marico sunbird.[2]

The female is greyish-brown above and on the head with a white eyebrow stripe; the throat is either white or dusky with white edges (malar strips). The underparts are faintly yellow-tinged white with dusky stripes on the breast. The tail is bluish-black with grey edges and tip.[2]

The juvenile male looks like the dark-throated form of the female. Later it develops a black throat and black wing coverts, both with green feathers intermixed, and often a wide black stripe down the belly.[2]

The adult male is apparently the same at all seasons: gleaming bluish-green above and on the head, with a black belly and lower breast. The upper breast may have a maroon band, missing the center or complete and 3 to 5 mm wide. (The male purple-banded sunbird has a wider maroon band and a distinct non-breeding plumage.)[2]

The song is "a rapid sputtering tsustiseesee, chuchiti-tsi-tsi-tsi-tsi sitisee-see-see-see chitisee…" and variants, sometimes only the last few notes. Calls resemble the purple-banded sunbird's: "[l]oud annoyance chatter, chi-chi-chi-chi…" and "a high tsik-tsiki-tsik or brrrzi."[2]


Some authorities consider it a subspecies of the purple-banded sunbird.[2] Here it is considered a separate species following the Handbook of the Birds of the World and other authorities.[3][4][5]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Cinnyris tsavoensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Zimmerman, Dale A; Turner, Donald A; Pearson, David J (1999), Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania, Field Guide Edition, Princeton University Press, pp. 228–229, 232–233, 522, ISBN 0-691-01022-6 
  3. ^ Lepage, Denis (2003–2007), Avibase - the world bird database, retrieved 2007-07-26 
  4. ^ Clements, James F. (2007), The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World (Sixth ed.), Cornell University Press, ISBN 978-0-8014-4501-9 , according to Lepage, Avibase.
  5. ^ Lack, Peter (2006), ABC African Checklist (nonpasserines) (doc), African Bird Club, retrieved 2007-11-02