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A photo of a Greater Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris afer), male
Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Male

Greater Double-collared Sunbird

Cinnyris afer

The greater double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris afer, is a small and vibrant member of the sunbird family. This species exhibits a striking sexual dimorphism. The male is adorned with a glossy, metallic green head, throat, upper breast, and back. A brilliant red band, edged with a narrow metallic blue stripe, graces his chest. The rest of his underparts are a pale grey. When in display, one may observe yellow tufts on his shoulders. The female, in contrast, is clad in more subdued tones of pale grey, with darker wings. Both sexes possess a long, decurved bill, black in color, matching their legs and feet, and dark brown eyes.

Identification Tips

To identify the greater double-collared sunbird, look for the male's broad red chest band and the distinctive blue band above it. The female is less colorful but can be recognized by her grey plumage and darker wings. The species can be distinguished from the similar lesser double-collared sunbird by the male's larger size, wider red chest band, and longer bill.

Habitat

The greater double-collared sunbird is commonly found in gardens, fynbos, forest edges, and coastal scrub across southern South Africa.

Distribution

This sunbird is mainly resident but partly migratory in the northeastern parts of its range within southern South Africa.

Behaviour

The greater double-collared sunbird is typically observed alone or in pairs. It exhibits a fast and direct flight on its short wings.

Song & Calls

The call of this sunbird is a hard "chut-chut-chut," while its song is a high-pitched jumble of tweets and twitters, richer than that of its lesser double-collared counterpart. Additionally, it produces a shrill whistle and click, sounding like "wrew wrew wrew ch ch."

Breeding

Breeding occurs throughout the year, peaking from July to November. The sunbird constructs a closed oval nest from grass, lichen, and other plant materials, all bound together with spider webs. The nest features a side entrance, occasionally adorned with a porch, and is lined with soft feathers.

Feeding

The diet of the greater double-collared sunbird primarily consists of nectar from flowers. It also consumes fruit and, particularly when feeding young, insects and spiders. It has a unique habit of hovering in front of webs to pluck spiders and can hover like a hummingbird to feed on nectar, though it typically perches to do so.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the greater double-collared sunbird as Least Concern, indicating a stable population without significant threats to its survival.

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