Promerops cafer

Physical characteristics: Cape sugarbirds have rufous (reddish) head and breast. They have a distinctive long bill and long, brownish tail feathers. The chin is white with a moustache-looking dark streak. The abdomen is whitish, vent (waste opening) yellow. Females are 9.5 to 11.5 inches (24 to 29 centimeters) long, and males are 14.5 to 17.0 inches (37 to 44 centimeters) long, including the long tail. Both weigh about 1.5 ounces (42 grams).

Geographic range: Cape sugarbirds are found in South Cape Province, South Africa.

Habitat: Their habitat includes scrublands of the Western Cape area of South Africa. The scrubs consist generally of shrubs that resemble heaths (low evergreen shrubs) with hard leaves.

Diet: Their diet consists of nectar and insects captured in flight or picked from plants.

Behavior and reproduction: Cape sugarbirds are usually found alone or in pairs, but occasionally in small flocks. In order to attract females, males fly with both wings clapped together and keep their tail held high. Both sexes defend against other sugarbirds and sun-birds. Their song is a jumble of unpleasant notes.

They breed from February to August, depending mostly on when local vegetation flowers. A deep cup-shaped nest is placed in a bush or low tree. It is constructed from grass and twigs, and lined with plant down. Females lay buff to reddish eggs with brown spots, streaks, and blotches.

Cape sugarbirds and people: Cape sugarbirds are not known to have a special significance to people.

Conservation status: These birds are not threatened. ■

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