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Mount Cameroon Speirops Speirops melanocephalus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species qualifies as Vulnerable on account of its very small range, although it is reportedly common where it occurs and the population is probably stable. However, if threats to its montane habitat continue or increase it may be necessary to uplist it to Endangered.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Taxonomic note
Speirops lugubris and S. melanocephalus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) are retained as species contra Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993) who include melanocephalus as a subpecies of S. lugubris.

12 cm. Small, warbler-like bird with conspicuous white throat, forehead and lores, and narrow white eye-ring. Remainder of head blackish. Brown upperparts. Greyish underparts with tawny wash. White "thighs". Voice Sharp, strong, flutey whistled song and various churring contact calls. Hints Easily found above 2,000 m on Mt Cameroon in low shrubs and heath.

Distribution and population
Speirops melanocephalus is restricted to Mt Cameroon, Cameroon, where it is common within a narrow altitudinal belt.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 individuals. This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

It is found at 1,800-3,000 m in the canopy and mid-strata of more open parts of the forest and in scattered trees within the grassland (C. Bowden in litt. 1999), avoiding denser, closed-canopy areas. At its lower altitudinal limit it is found only in clearings. It is very noticeable at the upper forest-grassland boundary, above this occurring in patches of bush and thicket.

While fire is a naturally occurring phenomenon on Mt Cameroon and lava-flows occur about every 20 years, the regular burning of grassland by hunters, which extend to destroy large areas of forest, is probably the greatest threat to the species within its narrow altitudinal belt (J. Acworth in litt. 1999, E. M. O'Kah in litt. 1999).

Conservation Actions Underway
The  Mount Cameroon National Park was created by the Government of Cameroon in December 2009, covering approximately 58,178 hectares (WWF 2010).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to assess the current population size (E. M. O'Kah in litt. 1999) and exact distribution on Mt Cameroon (F. Njie in litt. 2007). Take measures to control forest-fires (E. M. O'Kah in litt. 1999).

WWF. 2010. Unique Cameroon mountain area gets crucial protection. Available at: (Accessed: 15/05/2012).

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Acworth, J., Bowden, C., Njie, F., O'Kah, E., Whytock, R.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Speirops melanocephalus. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Zosteropidae (White-eyes)
Species name author (Gray, 1862)
Population size 6000-15000 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 150 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species