Though mostly found singly or in pairs, larger numbers may concentrate at favourite flowering trees, where they act aggressively towards other sunbird species

Habitat and Distribution

They are widespread residents of woodland, mesic savanna, forest edge and suburban gardens. They occur only sparsely in dry savanna or low dry regions, where they keep to riparian woods or concentrations of nectar-bearing plants, and are decidedly scarce in the Limpopo valley and mopane regions. A distinct summer influx is notable in the Zambezi valley and Great Zimbabwe woodlands, and they are strictly summer visitors (September/October to April) to the Kalahari sand (or Gusu) woodlands, where they appear in high densities when the Baikiaea trees are in flower. On seaward-facing slopes, they are very common residents up to 1,800 metres, with high reporting rates in afromontane forest and valley bushveld.


Food includes emergent termites, spiders and nectar.


In courtship a male will hop about a branch near a female, droop one wing, then the other, and finally both wings. The wings will then be fluttered and displayed. A responsive female may lower her head, and assume a rigid posture. Breeding pairs are widely spaced, and the female builds the nest. Favoured trees include exotic eucalypts and pines, and are often close to buildings or human activity. Nests are attached to a drooping branch, below the canopy, or hidden by foliage. Nests are built from fine grass stems, which are bound together with cobweb. The nest is often decorated with lichens or other debris. Two speckled eggs are laid, but successive clutches may be raised from the same nest, in a single season. Nests are parasitized by Green-backed honeybird and Klaas's cuckoo.

Calls and Songs

The complex song is a loud, sustained twittering.