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Species Guide
A photo of a Mrs. Gould's Sunbird (Aethopyga gouldiae), male
Mrs. Gould's Sunbird, Male

Mrs. Gould's Sunbird

Aethopyga gouldiae

Mrs. Gould's sunbird (Aethopyga gouldiae) is a diminutive and vibrant member of the Nectariniidae family, gracing the forests and shrublands from the southern Himalayan foothills to Southeast Asia with its presence. This species is named in honor of the British bird artist Elizabeth Gould.

Identification Tips

The male of the species is a kaleidoscope of colors, with a deep violet forehead, crown, and throat, and a bright red to deep scarlet nape, mantle, and sides. Some individuals may exhibit bright blue patterns on the auriculars and sides. The wings are a more subdued brown or olive green, while the belly and vent are a yellowish-green. The tail coverts are a striking blue, transitioning to dark purple at the tail's tip. In contrast, the female is more modestly attired in deep olive green dorsally and greyish-yellow ventrally. Both sexes possess a down-curved, pointed beak suited for nectar feeding, with a deep brown iris and a black tarsus.


This sunbird favors the lush canopies of evergreen broad-leaved forests, monsoon forests, and deciduous broad-leaved forests, typically found at elevations of 1000-3500 meters above sea level. It may also be encountered in orchards and bamboo forests within its range.


Mrs. Gould's sunbird is widely distributed across Bangladesh, Bhutan, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, India, Vietnam, and Southern China. A non-breeding population is known to reside in Hong Kong.


Mrs. Gould's sunbird is predominantly sedentary, though it may engage in minor seasonal migrations. It is often observed alone or in pairs, but can occasionally be seen in temporary groups. The bird is agile and quick, capable of short, swift flights. Its vocalizations include a high-pitched "tzeeee" and a sharp "tzit."

Song & Calls

The male courts the female with a distinctive mating call, a series of "zhai-zhai-zhai" notes, during the breeding season.


The breeding period spans from April to June, with females constructing nests of moss, grass, plant fibers, and spiderwebs. These nests are typically situated in deciduous broad-leaved forests at elevations of 1000-3000 meters. Clutches generally consist of 2-3 white eggs, adorned with reddish-brown spots. Incubation lasts approximately two weeks, and the fledglings leave the nest after 15-16 days. Both parents are involved in the care of the chicks, initially feeding them nectar through regurgitation, and later supplementing with invertebrates.

Diet and Feeding

Mrs. Gould's sunbird has a diet primarily composed of nectar, which it extracts from tubular flowers using its elongated, specialized tongue. It also consumes small invertebrates, including spiders, beetles, and hemipteran nymphs.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List categorizes Mrs. Gould's sunbird as Least Concern. While not listed as endangered in China, it is recognized as a species beneficial or of high economic and scientific value.

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Mrs. Gould's Sunbirds on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
Losan XU
14 Sep 2023 - 6:00am

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