Shining Sunbird Cinnyris habessinicus Scientific name definitions

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

Diet and Foraging

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Known exclusively from casual and anecdotal observations, but nevertheless general knowledge of the species’ diet is probably fairly good, despite the lack of detailed studies.


Main Foods Taken

Nectar, fruits, insects.

Food Capture and Consumption

Forages singly, in pairs and in groups of four to five, being considered to be more tolerant of conspecifics than many other sunbirds (2); sometimes large flocks of up to 75 individuals, in Yemen (1, 2). Feeds by perching on plants and by hovering in front of flowers, but also takes insects in flight (31, 2, 28). Observed bashing a large leathery insect larvae against a branch prior to consumption (28).


Major Food Items

In Africa, diet based on nectar, fruits of Salvadora persica (2); insects (including Coleoptera, Diptera, Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, Isoptera, and Lepidoptera) and spiders (Araneae) (2). The birds have also been observed visiting flowers of Acacia (1), Aloe (aloes said to be especially favored in Somalia) (32), Calotropis procera (2), Capparis sp. (1), Delonix elata (12), Malvaceae (12), Ficus sp. (2), Phoenix dactylifera (2), Salvia sp. (2), Stereospermum (1), Ziziphus spina-christi, and others, including unidentified mistletoes (Loranthaceae) (1).

In Arabia, the species takes nectar and invertebrates, including larvae and caterpillars, but insects taken have not been well described, although they probably include ants and tiny mites (28). On the other hand, flower species at which the species has apparently been observed taking nectar include Delonix elata, Maerua crassifolia, Moringa peregrina, Calotropis procera, Prosopis julifloria, acacia (28), Aloe vera (31, 33), Anisotes trisulcus (31), oleander (28), Capparis decidua (33), and possibly Capparis cartilaginea (28).

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