- Shining Sunbird
 - Shining Sunbird
 - Shining Sunbird (Arabian)
 - Shining Sunbird (Shining)

Shining Sunbird Cinnyris habessinicus Scientific name definitions

Guy M. Kirwan
Version: 2.0 — Published October 8, 2021
Revision Notes

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The Shining Sunbird has a disjunct geographic distribution, with two subspecies occurring in western and southern Arabia, and three in northeast Africa, from extreme southeast Egypt south to northeast Uganda and central Kenya. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in this age of intense taxonomic work, several recent authors have suggested that the two populations, in Africa and Arabia, might be better ranked as separate species, especially due to the very strong differences in female plumage. Corroboration via detailed studies, including molecular work, is needed to investigate this potential re-arrangement. This is a medium-sized sunbird with a relatively long, decurved bill; and is generally darker plumaged than any sympatric family member. Males have generally golden-green upperparts, largely dark wings and rear underparts, and sport a variably broad red breast-band, but the yellow pectoral tufts are rarely seen, whereas females are mainly pale gray brown above, with a dark tail, and typically very pale and uniform underparts, with an indication of streaking on the undertail coverts. In Arabia, females are generally dark sooty gray overall, albeit marginally paler on the underparts. Shining Sunbird inhabits generally open woodland, as well as thornbush, cultivation, gardens, and reasonably well-vegetated rocky hillsides, typically below 2,000 m in Africa, and a little higher in Arabia.

Recommended Citation

Kirwan, G. M. (2021). Shining Sunbird (Cinnyris habessinicus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (B. K. Keeney, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.shisun3.02