Cape sugarbird

Cape sugarbird
Promerops cafer
Photo by Tadeusz Stawarczyk (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Cape sugarbird (en); papa-açucar-do-Cabo (pt); promérops du Cap (fr); mielero-abejaruco de El Cabo (es); Kaphonigfresser (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Promeropidae

This species is endemic to South Africa, only being found in the fynbos biome of the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces.

The males are 34-44 cm long, while the shorter-tailed and shorter-billed females are 25-29 cm long. They weigh 30-40 g.

They are mostly found in the dry scrublands that form the fynbos biome, and are highly dependent on Protea plants for both food and nesting sites. They may also be found in rural gardens and even within urban areas.

Cape sugarbirds mostly feed on the nectar of Protea, Leucospermum and Mimetes, but can also consume the nectar of other plants including introduced Eucalyptus. They also eat various arthropods including beetles, flies, wasps, ants, aphids, grasshoppers, butterflies and caterpillars, lacewings and spiders.

These birds are monogamous and breed in March-August. The female builds the nest, a cup made of leaves, dry grasses and stems, lined with grass and brown fluff from Protea flowers. The nest is placed in the foliage of a bush, especially Protea. There the female lays 1-2 eggs which she incubates alone for 12-20 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 18 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 3 weeks later.

IUCN status – LC (Least concern)
This species has a relatively large breeding range and is described as common in areas of suitable habitat. The population is believed to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats, but the invasion by alien plants such as rooikrans Acacia cyclops and decreases in nest site availability due to frequent fires in fynbos may have a negative impact on this species.

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