Backyard Birds

Loten’s Sunbirds or Long-billed Sunbirds

The Loten’s Sunbirds (Cinnyris lotenius, formerly Nectarinia lotenia) – also known as Long-billed Sunbird or Maroon-breasted Sunbird – are relatively common, non-migratory, nectar-feeding birds found in India and Sri Lanka.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • Cinnyris lotenius lotenius (Linnaeus, 1766) – Nominate Form
  • Cinnyris lotenius hindustanicus (Whistler, 1944)
    • Occurs naturally in southern India south from northern Maharashtra and northeastern Andhra Pradesh.

Alternate (Global) Names:

Chinese: ????? … Czech: strdimil jihoindický, Strdimil lotosový … Danish: Langnæbbet Purpursolfugl … Dutch: Loten’s honingzuiger, Lotushoningzuiger … Finnish: Isomalabarinmedestäjä … French: Souimanga à long bec, Souimanga de Loten, Souimanga pourpré … German: Lotennektarvogel, Lotos Nektarvogel, Lotosnektarvogel, Lotusnektarvogel … Hindi: Ten chittu … Italian: Nettarinia beccolungo, Nettarinia di Loten … Japanese: kurimunetaiyouchou, ??????????? … Norwegian: Langnebbsolfugl … Polish: nektarnik dlugodzioby, nektarnik d?ugodzioby … Slovak: nektárovka srpozobá … Spanish: Nectarina de Loten, Suimanga de Loten … Swedish: Långnäbbad solfågel

Breeding / Nesting:

The average clutch consists of two eggs that are deposited in nests that are deposited in trees.

Two eggs are laid in a suspended nest in a tree.


The Long-billed or Loten’s Sunbirds are small birds, only measuring about 12 – 13 cm in length, including the tail.

They have long down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues, that are well adapted for nectar feeding.

The breeding adult male is mainly glossy purple with a grey-brown belly. He resembles the male Purple Sunbird, but is larger, has a longer sickle-shaped bill, and a different belly coloration.

The non-breeding (eclipse) male has yellow-grey upperparts, darker than Purple Sunbird, and a yellow breast with a blue central streak extending to the belly.

The females‘ plumage is yellow-grey above and yellowish below. She can be distinguished by the similar female Purple Sunbird by the absence of the faint supercilium (line above eye).

Their flight is fast and direct.

Calls / Vocalizations

Its call is described as a sharp chit chit.


Long-billed Sunbirds mostly feed on nectar. Even though most species can retrieve nectar from flowers by hovering in front or above them, like hummingbirds, they usually perch to feed.

Like all sunbirds, they will also take insects, particularly during the breeding season and when feeding young.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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