Most sunbirds are birds of forest, woodlands, and savanna regions, where there is an ample supply of flowering plants and insects. However, some species such as the dusky sunbird (Cinnyris fuscus) of southern Africa and the Nile Valley sunbird (Hedydipna metallica) of northeast Africa and Arabia are found in semidesert habitats. The altitudinal range of

A golden-winged sunbird (Drepanorhynchus reichenowi) in Kenya. (Photo by A.J. Deane. Bruce Coleman Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

sunbirds is extensive, ranging from sea level to at least 14,700 ft (4,500 m) in Afro-alpine moorlands, where the scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird (Nectarinia johnstoni) occurs. Sun-birds require food sources of nectar from flowers and insects in their habitats, and plant material, usually grass, with which to make their nests. Lack of a year-round supply of flowers in one place can be circumvented by local movements, including altitudinal shifts or long-distance migrations, but most species are opportunistic and will exploit a source of nectar in whatever habitat they find it. Forest-dwelling species are often found in the canopy of the tallest trees, taking nectar and insects.

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