The sunbirds and spiderhunters make up a family, Nectariniidae, of very small passerine birds. There are 132 species in 15 genera. The family is distributed throughout Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and just reaches northern Australia. Most sunbirds feed largely on nectar, but also take insects and spiders, especially when feeding young. Flower tubes that bar access to nectar because of their shape, are simply punctured at the base near the nectaries. Fruit is also part of the diet of some species. Their flight is fast and direct on their short wings.

The sunbirds have counterparts in two very distantly related groups: the hummingbirds of the Americas and the honeyeaters of Australia. The resemblances are due to convergent evolution brought about by a similar nectar-feeding lifestyle. Some sunbird species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed.

Like the hummingbirds, sunbirds are strongly sexually dimorphic, with the males usually brilliantly plumaged in iridescent colors. In addition to this the tails of many species are longer in the males, and overall the males are larger. Sunbirds have long thin down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues, both adaptations to their nectar feeding. The spiderhunters, of the genus Arachnothera, are distinct in appearance from the other members of the family. They are typically larger than the other sunbirds, with drab brown plumage that is the same for both sexes, and long, down-curved beaks.

In metabolic behavior similar to that of Andes hummingbirds, species of sunbirds that live at high altitudes or latitudes will enter torpor while roosting at night, lowering their body temperature and entering a state of low activity and responsiveness.

Sunbirds are a tropical Old World family, with representatives in Africa, Asia and Australasia. In Africa they are found mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar but are also distributed in Egypt. In Asia the group occurs along the coasts of the Red Sea as far north as Israel, with a gap in their distribution till Iran, from where the group occurs continuously as far as southern China and Indonesia. In Australasia the family occurs in New Guinea, north eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands. They are generally not found on oceanic islands, with the exception of the Seychelles. The greatest variety of species is found in Africa, where the group probably arose. Most species are sedentary or short-distance seasonal migrants. Sunbirds occur over the entire family's range, whereas the spiderhunters are restricted to Asia.

Sunbirds are active diurnal birds that generally occur in pairs or occasionally in small family groups. A few species occasionally gather in larger groups, and sunbird will join with other birds to mob potential predators, although sunbirds will also aggressively target other species, even if they are not predators, when defending their territories.

Overall the family has fared better than many others, with only seven species considered to be threatened with extinction. Most species are fairly resistant to changes in habitat, and while attractive the family is not sought after by the cagebird trade, as they have what is considered an unpleasant song and are tricky to keep alive. Sunbirds are considered attractive birds and readily enter gardens where flowering plants are planted to attract them. There are a few negative interactions, for example the scarlet-chested sunbird is considered a pest in cocoa plantations as it spreads parasitic mistletoes.

Genus Chalcoparia (sometimes included in Anthreptes)
Ruby-cheeked sunbird, Chalcoparia singalensis
Genus Deleornis (sometimes included in Anthreptes)
Fraser's sunbird, Deleornis fraseri
Grey-headed sunbird, Deleornis axillaris - sometimes included in D. fraseri
Genus Anthreptes (c.12 species)
Plain-backed sunbird, Anthreptes reichenowi
Anchieta's sunbird, Anthreptes anchietae
Plain sunbird, Anthreptes simplex
Brown-throated sunbird, Anthreptes malacensis
Grey-throated sunbird, Anthreptes griseigularis
Red-throated sunbird, Anthreptes rhodolaemus
Mangrove sunbird, Anthreptes gabonicus
Western violet-backed sunbird, Anthreptes longuemarei
Eastern violet-backed sunbird, Anthreptes orientalis
Uluguru violet-backed sunbird, Anthreptes neglectus
Violet-tailed sunbird, Anthreptes aurantium
Grey-chinned sunbird, Anthreptes rectirostris
Banded green sunbird, Anthreptes rubritorques
Little green sunbird, Anthreptes seimundi
Genus Hedydipna (sometimes included in Anthreptes)
Collared sunbird, Hedydipna collaris
Pygmy sunbird, Hedydipna platura
Nile Valley sunbird, Hedydipna metallica
Amani sunbird, Hedydipna pallidigaster
Genus Hypogramma
Purple-naped sunbird, Hypogramma hypogrammicum
Genus Anabathmis (sometimes included in Nectarinia)
Reichenbach's sunbird, Anabathmis reichenbachii
Principe sunbird, Anabathmis hartlaubii
Newton's sunbird, Anabathmis newtonii
Genus Dreptes (sometimes included in Nectarinia)
Giant sunbird, Dreptes thomensis
Genus Anthobaphes - Orange-breasted sunbird (sometimes included in Nectarinia)
Genus Cyanomitra (sometimes included in Nectarinia)
Green-headed sunbird, Cyanomitra verticalis
Blue-throated brown sunbird, Cyanomitra cyanolaema
Blue-headed sunbird, Cyanomitra alinae
Cameroon sunbird, Cyanomitra oritis
Bannerman's sunbird, Cyanomitra bannermani
Olive sunbird, Cyanomitra olivacea
Grey sunbird, Cyanomitra veroxii
Genus Chalcomitra (sometimes included in Nectarinia)
Buff-throated sunbird, Chalcomitra adelberti
Carmelite sunbird, Chalcomitra fuliginosa
Green-throated sunbird, Chalcomitra rubescens
Amethyst sunbird, Chalcomitra amethystina
Scarlet-chested sunbird, Chalcomitra senegalensis
Hunter's sunbird, Chalcomitra hunteri
Socotra sunbird, Chalcomitra balfouri
Genus Leptocoma (sometimes included in Nectarinia)
Purple-rumped sunbird, Leptocoma zeylonica
Crimson-backed sunbird, Leptocoma minima
Copper-throated sunbird, Leptocoma calcostetha
Purple-throated sunbird, Leptocoma sperata
Black sunbird, Leptocoma sericea - formerly Nectarinia aspasia
Genus Nectarinia (6 species in the strict sense)
Bocage's sunbird, Nectarinia bocagii
Purple-breasted sunbird, Nectarinia purpureiventris
Tacazze sunbird, Nectarinia tacazze
Bronzy sunbird, Nectarinia kilimensis
Scarlet-tufted sunbird, Nectarinia johnstoni
Malachite sunbird, Nectarinia famosa
Genus Drepanorhynchus (sometimes included in Nectarinia)
Golden-winged sunbird, Drepanorhynchus reichenowi
Genus Cinnyris (sometimes included in Nectarinia)
Olive-bellied sunbird, Cinnyris chloropygius
Tiny sunbird, Cinnyris minullus
Miombo double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris manoensis
Southern double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris chalybeus
Neergaard's sunbird, Cinnyris neergaardi
Ruwenzori double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris stuhlmanni
Prigogine's double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris prigoginei
Ludwig's double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris ludovicensis
Northern double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris reichenowi
Greater double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris afer
Regal sunbird, Cinnyris regius
Rockefeller's sunbird, Cinnyris rockefelleri
Eastern double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris mediocris
Moreau's sunbird, Cinnyris moreaui
Beautiful sunbird, Cinnyris pulchellus
Loveridge's sunbird, Cinnyris loveridgei
Marico sunbird, Cinnyris mariquensis
Shelley's sunbird, Cinnyris shelleyi
Congo sunbird, Cinnyris congensis
Red-chested sunbird, Cinnyris erythrocerca
Black-bellied sunbird, Cinnyris nectarinioides
Purple-banded sunbird, Cinnyris bifasciatus
Tsavo sunbird, Cinnyris tsavoensis - sometimes included in C. bifasciatus
Violet-breasted sunbird, Cinnyris chalcomelas
Pemba sunbird, Cinnyris pembae
Orange-tufted sunbird, Cinnyris bouvieri
Palestine sunbird, Cinnyris oseus
Shining sunbird, Cinnyris habessinicus
Splendid sunbird, Cinnyris coccinigaster
Johanna's sunbird, Cinnyris johannae
Superb sunbird, Cinnyris superbus
Rufous-winged sunbird, Cinnyris rufipennis
Oustalet's sunbird, Cinnyris oustaleti
White-bellied sunbird, Cinnyris talatala
Variable sunbird, Cinnyris venustus
Dusky sunbird, Cinnyris fuscus
Ursula's sunbird, Cinnyris ursulae
Bates' sunbird, Cinnyris batesi
Copper sunbird, Cinnyris cupreus
Purple sunbird, Cinnyris asiaticus
Olive-backed sunbird, Cinnyris jugularis
Apricot-breasted sunbird, Cinnyris buettikoferi
Flame-breasted sunbird, Cinnyris solaris
Souimanga sunbird, Cinnyris sovimanga
Seychelles sunbird, Cinnyris dussumieri
Malagasy green sunbird, Cinnyris notatus
Humblot's sunbird, Cinnyris humbloti
Anjouan sunbird, Cinnyris comorensis
Mayotte sunbird, Cinnyris coquerellii
Loten's sunbird, Cinnyris lotenius
Genus Aethopyga
Grey-hooded sunbird, Aethopyga primigenia
Apo sunbird, Aethopyga boltoni
Lina's sunbird, Aethopyga linaraborae
Flaming sunbird, Aethopyga flagrans
Metallic-winged sunbird, Aethopyga pulcherrima
Elegant sunbird, Aethopyga duyvenbodei
Lovely sunbird, Aethopyga shelleyi
Handsome sunbird, Aethopyga belli
Mrs. Gould's sunbird, Aethopyga gouldiae
White-flanked sunbird, Aethopyga eximia
Green-tailed sunbird, Aethopyga nipalensis
Fork-tailed sunbird, Aethopyga christinae
Black-throated sunbird, Aethopyga saturata
Vigors's sunbird, Aethopyga vigorsii
Crimson sunbird, Aethopyga siparaja
Javan sunbird, Aethopyga mystacalis
Temminck's sunbird, Aethopyga temminckii
Fire-tailed sunbird, Aethopyga ignicauda
Genus Arachnothera - spiderhunters (10-11 species)
Thick-billed spiderhunter Arachnothera crassirostris
Spectacled spiderhunter Arachnothera flavigaster
Long-billed spiderhunter Arachnothera robusta
Little spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra
Yellow-eared spiderhunter Arachnothera chrysogenys
Naked-faced spiderhunter Arachnothera clarae
Grey-breasted spiderhunter Arachnothera modesta
Streaky-breasted spiderhunter Arachnothera affinis
Bornean spiderhunter, Arachnothera everetti
Streaked spiderhunter Arachnothera magna
Whitehead's spiderhunter Arachnothera juliae