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A photo of a Cape Sugarbird (Promerops cafer), male
Cape Sugarbird, Male

Cape Sugarbird

Promerops cafer

The Cape sugarbird, a native to the Fynbos biome of South Africa, presents a striking figure with its grey-brown plumage. Males are particularly notable for their elongated tail feathers and a distinctive yellow patch beneath their tails. They range in size, with males measuring from 34 to 44 centimeters in length, while the more modestly adorned females span 25 to 29 centimeters.

Identification Tips

When observing the Cape sugarbird, look for the male's remarkably long tail and the yellow spot under the tail. Females are identified by their shorter tails and bills, and lighter breast coloration. Both sexes can be recognized by the unique frrt-frrt sound produced by their wings in flight, a trait evolved to attract mates.

Habitat

The Cape sugarbird thrives within the Fynbos, a fire-driven ecosystem dominated by flowering proteas and ericas. It favors areas that have not recently experienced burns and can be found visiting gardens during the summer months.

Distribution

This species is endemic to the Western and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa, where it is widespread throughout the Fynbos region. It is less common in areas that have been recently affected by fire.

Behaviour

The Cape sugarbird exhibits a preference for mature Protea stands during the breeding season, where males establish territories and perform vocal displays to attract females.

Song & Calls

The flight of the Cape sugarbird is accompanied by a distinctive frrt-frrt sound, which is part of its courtship behavior.

Breeding

Winter marks the breeding season for the Cape sugarbird, coinciding with abundant food supplies. Males become territorial and engage in vocal displays within Protea bushes to attract mates.

Diet and Feeding

Specializing in nectar from Proteaceae, the Cape sugarbird uses its long, sharp beak and brush-tipped tongue to feed. While nectar forms the bulk of its diet, it also consumes spiders and insects. Adaptations such as sharp claws help it navigate the strong winds of the Cape while feeding on protea heads.

Conservation status

The Cape sugarbird is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, thanks to its large population and extensive range within its native habitat.

Cape Sugarbird Sounds


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Cape Sugarbirds on Birda

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