Scarletchested sunbird

Chalcomitra senegalensis

SUBFAMILY

Nectariniinae

TAXONOMY

Certhia senegalensis Linnaeus, 1766, Senegal. Five subspecies. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Scarlet-breasted sunbird, scarlet-throated sunbird; French: Souimanga a poitrine rouge; German: RotbrustGlanzköpfchen; Spanish: Nectarina de Pecho Carmín.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

5.1-5.9 in (13-15 cm); male 0.26-0.61 oz (7.5-17.2 g), female 0.24-0.54 oz (6.8-15.3 g). Mostly black, fading to brownish black. Bright red throat and chest with iridescent blue speckles. Glossy green forehead, crown, and chin.

DISTRIBUTION

C. s. acik: northern Cameroon to western and southern Sudan, Central African Republic, northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and northeastern Uganda; C. s. cruentata: southeast

ern Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, northern Kenya; C. s. gutturalis: northern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, northern Namibia, northern Botswana, northern and eastern South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Zanzibar; C. s. lamperti : Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, southern Sudan, and western Tanzania; C. s. senegalensis: Senegal to Nigeria.

HABITAT

Wooded savanna, thorn scrub, gallery forests, inselbergs, coastal habitats, farmland, plantations, parks, and gardens.

BEHAVIOR

Partial migrant, with some birds moving with rain fronts; a banded bird traveled 224 mi (360 km) in Zimbabwe. Noisy and conspicuous, forming groups of up to 20 birds at flowering trees. Aggressive, apparently defends feeding territories as well as breeding domains. Territorial; male advertises presence from tall perch while singing agitated twittering song.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds on nectar and insects such as ants, beetles, moths, and termites, as well as spiders. Hovers in front of leaves for insects and flowers for nectar.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Clutch of one to three whitish eggs with brown markings laid in domed nest with prominent porch of dried grasses above entrance hole, suspended from tree or human-made support. May be double- or triple-brooded, sometimes reuses same nest for each brood. Both parents feed young. Nests parasitized by Klaas's cuckoo, emerald cuckoo (Chrysococcyx cupreus), and by honeyguides, including greater honeyguide (Indicator indicator).

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Minor pest in Zimbabwe where it damages commercial crops of proteas. Also pollinates mistletoe pests of cocoa in West Africa. ♦

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