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Cinnyris mariquensis (Marico sunbird) 

[= Nectarinia mariquensis

Maricosuikerbekkie [Afrikaans]; Kalyambya (generic term for sunbird) [Kwangali]; Incwincwi (generic for sunbirds) [Swazi]; Nwapyopyamhanya (generic term for sunbird) [Tsonga]; Senwabolôpe, Talętalę (generic terms for sunbirds) [Tswana]; Marico-honingzuiger Marico, Mariqua [Dutch]; Souimanga de Mariqua [French]; Bindennektarvogel [German]; Beija-flor de Marico [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 mariquensis (Marico sunbird)  Cinnyris mariquensis (Marico sunbird) 
Marico sunbird, Marakele National Park, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Marico sunbird, Nylsvlei, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

It occupies two separate areas of sub-Saharan Africa; one population occurs from Eritrea to Tanzania while the other extends from Angola and south-western Zambia to southern Africa. Here it is locally common from Namibia through Botswana to Zimbabwe, southern Mozambique and northern and north-eastern South Africa, generally preferring dry Acacia savanna, edges of riparian woodland and broad-leaved woodland, often moving into suburban gardens.

Distribution of Marico 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 is a host of the feather mite Ptilonyssus cinnyris.

Brood parasites

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


It feeds on nectar and arthropods, gleaning prey from foliage and hawking insects aerially. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Nectar
    • Acacia
      • A. erubescens (Blue thorn)
    • Aloe
    • Bauhinia
    • Cadaba termitaria (Grey-leaved wormbush)
    • Crotalaria (rattle-pods)
    • Erythrina (coral-trees)
    • Geranium
    • Kigelia africana (Sausage-tree)
    • Kniphofia (torch lilies)
    • Leonotis leonurus (Wild dagga)
    • Loranthaceae (mistletoes)
    • Peltophorum africanum (African wattle)
    • alien plants
      • Callistemon viminalis (Bottlebrush)
      • Grevillea (silky oaks)
      • Jacaranda mimosifolia (Jacaranda)
  • Arthropods


  • The nest is built solely by the female in about 6-12 days, consisting of a compact, pear-shaped structure built of dry grass reinforced with spider web, with a side-top entrance covered by a hood of grass stems. It is usually camouflaged using dark material, such as bark, lumps of resin, small flowers, plant seeds, caterpillar feces and seed capsules, thickly lining the interior with plant down or feathers to the point that the nest bulges or even splits. It is typically attached with spider web to an upright twig or branch in the dense foliage of a tree or bush, about 2-8 metres above ground.
  • Egg-laying season is from July-February, peaking from about September-November.
  • It lays 1-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 13-15 days.
  • The chicks are fed solely by the female, but once they fledge both parents continue to feed them for weeks longer, still coming back to roost in the nest every night.


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.