home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Cinnyris afer (Greater double-collared sunbird) 

[= Nectarinia afra

Groot-rooibandsuikerbekkie [Afrikaans]; Ingcungcu (generic term for sunbird) [Xhosa]; iNcuncu (also applied to Southern double-collared sunbird), iNcwincwi [Zulu]; Ntsotsotso, Xidyamhangani, Rithweethwee [Tsonga]; Grote kraaghoningzuiger [Dutch]; Souimanga à plastron rouge [French]; Großer halsband-nektarvogel [German]; Beija-flor-de-banda-larga [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Nectariniidae

Cinnyris afer (Greater double-collared sunbird)  Cinnyris afer (Greater double-collared sunbird) 
Greater double-collared sunbird male, Marloth Nature Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Greater double-collared sunbird male feeding on Leonotis leonurus. [photo Callie de Wet ©]
Cinnyris afer (Greater double-collared sunbird)  Cinnyris afer (Greater double-collared sunbird) 

Greater double-collared sunbird male feeding on Aloe. Tsitsikamma National Park, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©]

Greater double-collared sunbird female, Tsitsikamma National Park, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to South Africa and Swaziland, occurring in a band from the Limpopo Province through Mpumalanga and Swaziland to KwaZulu-Natal, down the coast to the Western and Eastern Cape. It generally prefers edges of Afromontane, coastal and dune forest, dry valley bushveld, montane tall shrublands, woodland along water courses in arid regions, Acacia savanna, parks and gardens.

Distribution of Greater double-collared sunbird in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of Felis catus (Domestic cat).

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Klaas's cuckoo.


It eats nectar supplemented with arthropods and fruit, probing flowers with its bill to obtain nectar, sometimes sucking juice out of fruit. It also hawks insects aerially and gleans prey from leaves and twigs, often joining mixed species aggregations at large sources of nectar. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • nectar
      • Aloe
      • Cotyledon (pig's ears)
      • Erica
      • Protea
      • Tecoma capensis (Cape honeysuckle)
      • Gasteria (bontaalwyns)
      • Hibiscus
      • Salvia
      • Plumbago
      • Canna
      • Pyrostegia venusta (Golden shower
      • Ananas (cultivated pineapples)
    • juice of fruit
      • Ficus (figs)
  • Arthropods


  • The nest is built solely by the female in about 10-24 days, consisting of a an oval-shaped structure built of a variety of materials, such as dry grass, bark shreds, wool, cottony material, feathers, fur, leaves, lichen, rootlets, twiglets and string bound together with spider web. The entrance hole is positioned on the side, protected by a hood of grass (especially Panicum and Eragrostis) sticking out of the side of the nest. It usually decorates the exterior with large leaves, sloughed snake skin, paper and lichen, lining the inside with feathers and hair. It is typically placed 2-6 metres above ground in a tree with dense foliage, such as guarris (Euclea), boer-beans (Schotia) and Acacia.
  • Egg-laying season is almost year-round, peaking from July-November.
  • It lays 1-2, usually 2 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 15-16 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 15-16 days and becoming independent about 10 days later.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.