Cover photo: BirdPix 4828 – Michael Brooks.
The Southern Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris chalebeus is a small sunbird in the family Nectariniidae. The male and female look different from one another. The male has a pale grey belly and relatively narrow red breast band. The female is overall grey-brown. The only similar species it overlaps with in geographic range is the Greater Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris afer. It differs from the Southern Double-collared Sunbird by being about 20% larger, with a longer, heavier bill, a much broader red breast band in the male, and a slower song.
The female might not be as flashy in her colouration, but still just as elegant. She has brown upperparts and yellowish-grey underparts. Juveniles resemble the females. It can be tricky to tell the difference between female Southern Double-collared Sunbirds and other female sunbird species. In general, Southern Double-collared Sunbird females are greyer below than female Orange-breasted Sunbirds, and darker below than female Dusky Sunbirds.
This beautiful little sunbird gives a characteristic short two-note “cher-cher” call and a rapid high-pitched song of up-and-down notes. Take a listen in the video below:
It prefers fynbos, Karoo shrubland, as well as woodland, Afromontane forests, gardens, and even Eucalyptus plantations.
Southern Double-collared Sunbirds are endemic to southern Africa, occurring from the far south of Namibia to South Africa. The core of their distribution is centred around the Western Cape extending east and north to KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo Province.
The Southern Double-collared Sunbird is usually seen singly or in small groups. Its flight is fast and direct on its short wings. It feeds mainly on nectar from flowers, but also eats fruit, and, especially when feeding young, insects and spiders.
The nest is built solely by the female in about 25-30 days. The nest has an an oval-shaped structure with a side entrance, built of grass, strands of old man’s beard Galium tomentosum, rootlets, and twigs. All of this is then strongly secured with spider web. There are exceptions though, as some nests (especially in forests) can be constructed entirely out of old-man’s-beard Usnea barbata.
Egg-laying season is almost year-round, peaking from July to September. Southern Double-collared Sunbirds lay 1-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 13-16 days. The chicks are fed by both adults, and they leave the nest after about 15-19 days. The parents feed the chicks until they are about 42-46 days old, at which point the young become fully independent.
Species Text from the first Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP1), 1997
Virtual Museum (BirdPix > Search VM > By Scientific or Common Name)
Other common names: Klein-rooibandsuikerbekkie (Afrikaans); Ingcungcu (Xhosa); iNcuncu (Zulu); Souimanga Chalybée (French); Halsband-nektarvogel (German).
Recommended citation format: Loftie-Eaton M and Karis D 2022. Southern Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris chalebeus. Bird Feeder Project. Biodiversity and Development Institute. Available Online at http://thebdi.org/2022/04/11/southern-double-collared-sunbird-cinnyris-chalebeus/