Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis 黃腹花蜜鳥

Category I. Rare but increasing visitor.


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Feb. 2023, Roman Lo. Adult male.

Slightly larger than Fork-tailed Sunbird with a  longer and thicker bill. Undersides of tail feathers tipped white in both sexes.

Adult male C. j. rhizophorae has olive-green upperparts with variable purplish forecrown that extends to throat and upper chest. Lower chest has a dark maroon band across with a broader blackish band below this, while rest of underparts are creamy or off white. Pectoral tufts are yellow.

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Dec. 2021, Roman Lo. Immature male.

This immature male is similar to the female but has some black on the throat and lacks the pale supercilium.

Female has yellowish supercilium and underparts, and greenish upperparts.


As is typical of sunbirds, generally very vocal. Many calls and some of the song have a buzzing quality that distinguishes it from Fork-tailed Sunbird.  Males may be heard repeating a harsh, sharply inflected ‘tsweet’ for  long periods.

A variant of this recalls Yellow-browed Warbler but is noticeably lower-pitched and harsher.

The song is largely a series of repeated phrases, each different from the adjacent.


Occurs at woodland edge and in open woodland and gardens.


2006: one on Mount Parker on 13 April was originally placed in Category III (Reed 2010); however, the occurrence of a second ten years later and a better understanding of the species distribution in China caused it to be moved to Category I.

2016: a male on Po Toi during 16-17 April (Lo and Ho 2018).


Northern Myanmar through Indochina to southwest China and peninsula Malaysia to the Greater and Lesser Sundas, Papua New Guinea and associated islands and northeast Australia, as well as the Philippines (Cheke et al. 2023). In China it occurs regularly in southern Yunnan, southern Guangxi and Hainan, with a few records from southwest Guangdong and HK (Liu and Chen 2020). Cheng (1987) mentions one record from north Guangdong prior to the 1980s.

C. j. rhizophorae occurs in north Vietnam and south China, including HK. Twenty other subspecies are also recognised, mostly in the Philippines and the Greater and Lesser Sundas.


IUCN: Least Concern. Population trend stable.

Cheke, R., C. Mann, G. M. Kirwan, and D. A. Christie (2023). Ornate Sunbird (Cinnyris ornatus), version 1.1. In Birds of the World (B. K. Keeney and S. M. Billerman, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.olbsun4.01.1

Cheng, T.H. 1987. A Synopsis of the Avifauna of China. Science Press, Beijing.

Lo, A. and T. W. T. Ho (2018). Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis on Po Toi. The first Hong Kong record accepted to Category I. Hong Kong Bird Report 2016: 239-240.

Reed, V. (2010). Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis on Hong Kong Island. The first Hong Kong record. Hong Kong Bird Report 2005-06: 220-221.

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