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Aves bird of the week - Malachite Sunbird - Nectarinia famosa


Malachite Sunbird

The Malachite Sunbird - Nectarinia famosa – is a large sunbird, found in the southern part of the Southern African region. There are two subspecies the nominate N. f. famosa and N. f. cupreonitens which breeds in the highlands from Ethiopia south to northern Mozambique.


The adult breeding male is metallic green, with blackish-green wings with small yellow pectoral patches. In non-breeding plumage, the male's upperparts are brown apart from the green wings and tail, the latter retaining the elongated feathers. The underparts 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.


The call is a loud tseep-tseep.


Feeds mainly on nectar, supplemented with small insects.


A territorial solitary nester, with pair bonds only lasting for the duration of the breeding season. The oval nest is built by the female, usually in a bush. The egg-laying season peaks from September-December with the female laying 1 to 4 dark-blotched greenish eggs. They are incubated solely by the female for about 12-14 days. The chicks are fed by mainly by the female, fledging between 13 to 17 days later and becoming independent up to 24 days later. They may be parasitised by Klaas’s Cuckoo or Red-chested Cuckoo.

Conservation Status – Least Concern

Not threatened and the global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as locally common in suitable habitat.


Ask Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures to create a tour for you or book on one of the following Aves Birding Tour/Safaris/Adventures scheduled tours to see these beautiful Sunbirds: -

Aves Eastern Cape Birding Tour / Safari /Adventure.

Aves Highlands / Tembe Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves KZN Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves Western Cape Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves West Coast Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.


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