SPECIES

Shining Sunbird Cinnyris habessinicus Scientific name definitions

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

Systematics

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Systematics History

Traditionally considered a single species (e.g., 1, 2), but del Hoyo and Collar (6), employing the Tobias et al. (7) criteria (from which scores in parentheses are derived), elected to treat Arabian populations as a separate species, based on their much-reduced and slightly duller red breast-band in males (2); more extensive and deeper blue reflectant uppertail coverts in males (1); much darker gray or gray-brown plumage in females (2); larger size (effect size for wing of subspecies kinneari versus nominate habessinicus 2.03, score 2); and seemingly different song (8). Subsequently, Shirihai and Svensson (3) also signalled their view that African and Arabian populations might be separated at species level.

Geographic Variation

Males from throughout the range differ mainly in their breast patterns, especially the depth and prominence of the red breast-band (9); there is a striking difference in overall coloration between females on the Arabian Peninsula versus those in Africa. Also considerable variation in size. Some previous authors preferred to recognize just one subspecies for all populations found in Africa (10, 4).

Subspecies

Five subspecies recognized herein (11).


EBIRD GROUP (POLYTYPIC)

Shining Sunbird (Shining) Cinnyris habessinicus [habessinicus Group]


SUBSPECIES

Cinnyris habessinicus habessinicus Scientific name definitions

Systematics History

Nectarinia (Cinnyris) habessinica Ehrenberg, in Hemprich and Ehrenberg, 1828, Symbolae Physicae, Aves, folia a, pl. 4.— ‘ex ora Habessiniae ad Eilet’ [= Eilet in Eritrea].

Distribution

From northeast Sudan (in Gebel Elba region, on border with Egypt) (12, 3), south through Eritrea, to northern and central Ethiopia (as far as Harar and Yavello) (1, 2). This subspecies in Djibouti? Sometimes also listed for northern Somalia (1).

Identification

Described under Plumages. Additional mensural data (see also Measurements): wing length of males 64‒71 mm (mean 66.2 ± 1.03 mm, n = 20), wing length of females 56‒62 mm (mean 59.3 mm, n = 18); tail length of males 44‒51 mm (mean 46.4 ± 1.18 mm, n = 20), tail length of females 37‒42 mm (mean 40.0 mm, n = 18); bill length of males 18.5‒20.5 mm (mean 19.5 ± 0.67 mm, n = 20), bill length of females 18‒19 mm (mean 18.4 ± 0.44 mm, n = 8); tarsus length of males 15.5‒17.0 mm (mean 15.8 ± 0.74 mm, n = 20), tarsus length of females 15‒16 mm (mean 15.4 mm, n = 8) (2).


SUBSPECIES

Cinnyris habessinicus alter Scientific name definitions

Systematics History

Cinnyris habessinicus alter Neumann, 1906, Ornithologische Monatsberichte 14:7.— Harrar and North Somaliland; restricted to Erigavo, 10°40′N, 47°25′E, 6,500 ft., by Williams (13).

Distribution

Eastern Ethiopia and northern Somalia (above 07°N) (2). Not always recognized (1).

Identification

The male has a slightly deeper breast-band (9–13 mm) bordered metallic blue or violet-green, and a longer bill (22.5–25.0 mm; nominate 18.5–20.5 mm), and the female is overall darker than the nominate, and often sports a greenish-orange breast-band (1, 2). Additional mensural data (see also Measurements): wing length of males 69‒72 mm (mean 70.4 ± 1.01 mm, n = 28), wing length of females 61‒64 mm (mean 62.6 ± 0.9 mm, n = 12); tail length of males 48‒56 mm (mean 51.9 ± 2.01 mm, n = 28), tail length of females 43‒49 mm (mean 45.3 ± 2.34 mm, n = 12); bill length of males 22.5‒25.0 mm (mean 23.5 ± 0.8 mm, n = 28), bill length of females 20‒22 mm (mean 21.0 ± 0.67 mm, n = 12); tarsus length of males 17‒18 mm (mean 17.7 ± 0.24 mm, n = 28), tarsus length of females 17.0‒17.5 mm (mean 17.2 ± 0.26 mm, n = 12) (2).


SUBSPECIES

Cinnyris habessinicus turkanae Scientific name definitions

Systematics History

Cinnyris habessinicus turkanae van Someren, 1920, Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 40:94.—Kobua River, Lake Rudolf [ca. 03°30′N, 35°55′E], Turkana, Kenya.

Two syntypes, an adult male collected in March 1918 and a female taken on 21 January 1917, are both at the American Museum of Natural History, New York (AMNH 688424 and AMNH 688428, respectively) (14).

Distribution

Southeast South Sudan (15), northeast Uganda (16, 17), northern and central Kenya, southern Ethiopia (north to Arussi), and southwest Somalia (along the upper River Juba) (1, 2).

Identification

Male has broader (14–19 mm deep) and paler red breast-band than nominate, with imperceptible or no metallic fringe; the female has the palest underparts of all (1, 2). Additional mensural data (see also Measurements): wing length of males 66‒69 mm (mean 67.1 ± 0.92 mm, n = 23), wing length of females 58‒60 mm (mean 58.8 ± 0.87 mm, n = 11); tail length of males 46‒51 mm (mean 48.3 ± 1.55 mm, n = 23), tail length of females 39‒41 mm (mean 40.9 ± 0.53 mm, n = 11); bill length of males 21‒23 mm (mean 21.9 ± 0.52 mm, n = 23), bill length of females 19.5‒21.5 mm (mean 20.4 ± 0.61 mm, n = 11); tarsus length of females 16.0‒16.5 mm (mean 16.3 ± 0.23 mm, n = 11) (2).


EBIRD GROUP (POLYTYPIC)

Shining Sunbird (Arabian) Cinnyris habessinicus hellmayri/kinneari


SUBSPECIES

Cinnyris habessinicus kinneari Scientific name definitions

Systematics History

Cinnyris habessinicus kinneari G. L. Bates, 1935, Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 55:120.—near Sail, 4,000 ft., Taif Plateau, Arabia.

The holotype is an adult, collected by Harry St. J. B. Philby on either 14 or 27 April 1934 (the latter date given on the specimen’s label, the former in the description), held in the Natural History Museum, Tring (NHMUK 1935.5.10.41) (18).

Distribution

Western Saudi Arabia (southern Hijaz south to Asir) (2).

Identification

The male has a shorter bill (18·5–20.0 mm) than subspecies hellmayri (21.5–23.0 mm), and the red breast-band is less obscured by blue subterminal bars, whilst the female is very dark, more black-brown, and appears scaly (especially on the throat, belly, and undertail-coverts), and the juvenile is mainly dark chocolate-brown in both sexes (2). Additional mensural data (see also Measurements): wing length of males 70‒75 mm (mean 72.0 ± 0.59 mm, n = 5), wing length of females 64‒65 mm (mean 64.5 mm, n = 2); tail length of males 51‒57 mm (mean 54.6 ± 2.3 mm, n = 5), tail length of females 49‒50 mm (mean 49.5 mm, n = 2); bill length of males 18.5‒20.0 mm (mean 19.4 ± 0.22 mm, n = 5), bill length of females 17.5‒19.0 mm (mean 18.25 mm, n = 2); tarsus length of females 15.5‒16.0 mm (mean 15.75 mm, n = 2) (2).


SUBSPECIES

Cinnyris habessinicus hellmayri Scientific name definitions

Systematics History

Cinnyris habessinica hellmayri Neumann, 1904, Ornithologische Monatsberichte 12:29.—mountains north of Lahadsch (i.e., Lahej).

Distribution

Extreme SW Saudi Arabia (Najran area), Yemen, and southwest Oman (Dhofar) (19, 2, 20).

Identification

Male has crown metallic blue, and the breast-band is made indistinct by virtue of subterminal green-blue bars (suggesting a narrow red collar below the metallic throat); the female is overall darker than female of subspecies alter (2). Additional mensural data (see also Measurements): wing length of males 70‒75 mm (mean 72.0 ± 1.82 mm, n = 7), wing length of females 62‒66 mm (mean 64.4 ± 1.26 mm, n = 5); tail length of males 51‒56 mm (mean 54.4 ± 1.76 mm, n = 7), tail length of females 44‒49 mm (mean 46.4 ± 2.51 mm, n = 5); bill length of males 21.5‒23.0 mm (mean 22.3 ± 0.62 mm, n = 7), bill length of females 20.0‒21.5 mm (mean 20.9 ± 0.54 mm, n = 5); tarsus length of males 16.5‒17.0 mm (mean 16.8 ± 0.24 mm, n = 7), tarsus length of females 16.0 mm (n = 5) (2).

Related Species

Shining Sunbird forms part of a large monophyletic grouping (totaling 28 species), generally characterized by their somewhat dark (melanic plumage), and comprising a number of relatively large-bodied and long-tailed species that were often previously separated in the genus Nectarinia (21).

Fossil History

Nothing known.

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