Sao Tom sunbird

Dreptes thomensis

SUBFAMILY

Nectariniinae

TAXONOMY

Nectarinia thomensis Barbosa du Bocage, 1889, St. Miguel, Sao Tomé.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Giant sunbird, Sao tomé giant sunbird, dusky sao tomé sunbird; French: Souimanga de sao tomé; German: Riesennektarvogel; Spanish: Nectarina de Santo Tomé.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Male 7.9-9 in (20-23 cm), female 7.1-7.5 in (18-19 cm); male 0.92 oz (26 g), female 0.63-0.67 oz (18.0-18.9 g). Largest of the sunbirds, with long bill and tail feathers. Dark purplish up-perparts with brown belly and breast. White-tipped tail.

DISTRIBUTION

HABITAT

Montane forest, secondary forest, scrub along streams, and cultivations.

BEHAVIOR

Usually occurs singly or in pairs, but up to seven birds may congregate at flowers. Constantly moves from plant to plant, and sometimes feeds on bark of trees like a treecreeper (Certhia sp.).

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Gleans leaves for insects, hovers beneath leaves to feed, probes bark and flowers. Food consists of insects, nectar, and fruit pulp.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Territorial. Possibly polygynous. Two long white eggs with red spots, laid September through January in nest suspended from end of branch. Nest made of moss and plant fibers with small porch and long trailing "beard" of plant fibers below base.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Vulnerable. Restricted to forests of Sao Tomé and threatened by forest clearances.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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