Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Gurney's sugarbird

Promerops gurneyi

Photo by Alan Manson (Wikipedia)

Common name:
Gurney's sugarbird (en); papa-açúcar-de-Gurney (pt); promérops de Gurney (fr); mielero-abejaruco de Gurney (es); Natalhonigfresser (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Promeropidae

This species is patchily distributed in south-eastern Africa, with populations along the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique and in north-eastern and eastern South Africa, including Lesotho.

These birds are 23-29 cm long and weigh 23-46,5 g.

The Gurney's sugarbird in mountain scrublands and grasslands dominated by Aloe, Protea and Strelitzia, being strongly associated with the presence of silver protea Protea roupelliae. Occasionally, they also use moist tropical forests.

They feed mainly on nectar, particularly of P. roupelliae and P. caffra, but also Greyia, Erythrina, Halleria lucida, Kniphofia, Leonotis, Leucosidia sericea, Leucospermum, Buddleja, Faurea, Watsonia, ans alien plants such as Callistemon viminalis and Eucalypus. They also hunt beetls, ants and spiders.

Gurney's sugarbirds can breed all year round, but with a peak in September-February coinciding with the flowering of Protea plants. The female builds the nest alone, consisting of a shallow cup made of rootlets, twigs and bark fibres, lined with grass and the brown fluff and seeds of proteas. It is typically placed in a fork, between branches or at the base of an inflorescence with branches below it, usually in silver protea P. roupelliae, but also common protea P. caffra and cultivated proteas on flower farms. There she lays 1-2 eggs which she incubates alone for 16-28 days. The chicks are mainly fed insects, by both parents, and fledge 19-23 days after hatching. They only become fully independent about 20 days after fledging.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large but patchy breeding range and is described as common. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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