email a friend
printable version
Amani Sunbird Anthreptes pallidigaster
BirdLife Species Champion Become a BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme Supporter
For information about BirdLife Species Champions and Species Guardians visit the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

This species has a very small and severely fragmented range. Away from its strongholds in Arabuko-Sokoke and the East Usambaras, it is found only very locally, even within suitable evergreen forest habitat. Forest clearance and alteration are ongoing over much of its range, and its population and range are therefore presumed to be declining. For these reasons, it is listed as Endangered.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

9 cm. Small woodland sunbird. At close range, upperparts and head of male are iridescent, deep green. Belly, flanks and vent contrasting white. When agitated, shows red pectoral tufts. Female overall greyish. Similar spp. Female Plain-backed Sunbird A. reichenowi has olive and yellow tones. Voice Song high-pitched jumble of chissick's and other unmusical notes. Contact call seeet seeet. Hints Most reliably and frequently seen at Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya, and around Amani in the East Usambaras, Tanzania.

Distribution and population
Anthreptes pallidigaster is found in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest in Kenya and in the East Usambara Mountains in Tanzania. The taxonomic status of similar birds seen in the Udzungwa Mountains (Tanzania) remains uncertain (J. Fjeldså in litt. 2012). In Arabuko-Sokoke in 1999, there were an average of 1.4 birds/km of transect (Davis 2000) in its occupied area of c.67 km2, where the population was estimated at 2,900-4,700 pairs in the 1970s (Britton and Zimmerman 1979). The transect data from 1999 were used to conservatively estimate the population in 77 km2 of Brachystegia woodland at 2,818 individuals (95% CI: 1,739-4,565), possibly indicating a decline since the 1970s, despite a difference in methods between the surveys (Davis 2005). In the East Usambaras, it has been recorded in four areas (totalling 124.5 km2) at 200-1,250 m (Evans 1997b, Seddon et al. 1999a, 1999b). In the Udzungwas, birds possibly of this species occur very locally in two areas (totalling 295 km2) at 1,350-1,550 m (Dinesen et al. 1993), and are probably absent from the south-western section (Fjeldså 1999), and the population is thought to number 'some hundred' individuals (Dinesen et al. 2001).

Population justification
The species is known to occur in three areas. Its population in the Brachystegia woodland of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya, has been estimated at 2,818 individuals (95% CI: 1,739-4,565) in an area of 77 km2. The remaining occupied range in the East Usambara and Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania, totals 420 km2, with the population in the Udzungwa Mountains probably numbering 'some hundred' individuals. Its population is therefore suspected to fall within the band 2,500-9,999 individuals. This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The comparison of transect survey data from the 1970s and 1999 suggests that the species has declined in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya, over this period, despite differences in the survey methods (Davis 2005). This decline is suspected to be continuing, owing to the ongoing degradation of woodland in this area. The species is suspected to be declining in Tanzania, in line with the loss and degradation of forest. The likely overall rate of decline has not been estimated.

It occurs in pairs or family groups, often joining mixed-species flocks (Dinesen et al. 1993, Cordeiro 1998,  Seddon et al. 1999a), in the canopy of mature trees in intact Brachystegia forest, often 30-35 m above ground, and in sub-montane evergreen forests in the East Usambara and Udzungwa Mountains (L. Dinesen in litt. 2007). However, it has also been recorded outside intact, unlogged forest, visiting flowers only a few metres above ground in clearings, gardens and very degraded forest (Dinesen et al. 1993, Evans 1997b, Seddon et al. 1999a). During 2006 surveys in the East Usambaras it was found in cultivated areas, including nesting in a Eucalyptus plantation, but was not found further than 800 m from forest (Borghesio et al. 2008). The diet includes nectar (e.g. mistletoes Loranthus and Erythrina), insects and other arthropods (Dinesen et al. 1993, C. Jackson in litt. 1999, Seddon et al. 1999a). Aggressive interactions with Collared Sunbird A. collaris (Seddon et al. 1999a) suggest that competition with this species may contribute to its restricted distribution.

At Arabuko-Sokoke, widespread felling of trees (often illegally) (Bennun and Njoroge 1999, Davis 2005) for poles, carving and fuelwood is altering the forest structure (Bennun and Njoroge 1999) and probably having a negative impact on the species, since it shows a significant preference for primary forest here (Fanshawe 1995). Throughout the East Usambaras, the main threats to forest extent and integrity are clearance for cultivation, excessive pole-cutting, and pit-sawing outside reserves (Evans 1997b). All are likely to increase in the near future (Seddon et al. 1999b). In the Udzungwa Mountains, the forests are considered less threatened, although there have been several illegal logging attempts locally (L. Dinesen in litt. 2007). The species, however, may be able to tolerate some forest degradation (Evans 1997b, Seddon et al. 1999b).

Conservation Actions Underway
Arabuko-Sokoke is the focus of a project to promote long-term forest conservation through sustainable management and community participation (Fanshawe 1997). In the East Usambaras, three conservation and development projects are active and the species occurs in three of the focal protected areas (which cover at least 121 km2). Populations possibly of this species in the Udzungwas are relatively well-protected by their isolation, but are also benefited by joint forest management activities, as well as promotion of the extention of Udzungwa Mountains National Park (L. Dinesen in litt. 2007). Conservation Actions Proposed
Enforce legislation controlling forest-use in both Arabuko-Sokoke and the East Usambaras (C. Jackson in litt. 1999). Set up a consistent monitoring programme to gather population estimates for the species in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and the East Usambaras (Davis 2005). Ensure that local people benefit from the conservation of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and forest in the East Usambaras, perhaps through ecotourism (Davis 2005). Better define its habitat and breeding requirements, in particular its tolerance of habitat alteration. Confirm the taxonomic identity of birds in the Udzungwas. Confirm its occurrence in other forest fragments in the East Usambaras. Enlarge Nilo Forest Reserve and establish clear boundary markers (Seddon et al. 1999b). Monitor the species's population across its range. Monitor habitat trends across the species's range. Continue awareness activities in the Udzungwas (L. Dinesen in litt. 2007). Continue management activities in the Udzungwas (L. Dinesen in litt. 2007). Evaluate options for extending Udzungwa Mountains National Park (L. Dinesen in litt. 2007).

Bennun, L.; Njoroge, P. 1999. Important Bird Areas in Kenya. Nature Kenya, Nairobi.

Borghesio, L.; John, J. R. M.; Mulungu, E.; Mkongewa, V.; Joho, M.; Cordeiro, N. J. 2008. Observations of threatened birds in the East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 15(1): 59-70.

Britton, P. L.; Zimmerman, D. A. 1979. The avifauna of Sokoke forest, Kenya. Journal of East African Natural History 169: 1-15.

Collar, N. J.; Stuart, S. N. 1985. Threatened birds of Africa and related islands: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, and International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Cambridge, U.K.

Cordeiro, N. J. 1998. A preliminary survey of the montane avifauna of Mt Nilo, East Usambaras, Tanzania. Scopus 20: 1-18.

Davis, J. A. 2000. Density and abundance estimates of a threatened sunbird in the Arabuko-Sokoke forest.

Davis, J. A. 2005. Density and population estimates of Amani Sunbird Anthreptes pallidigaster in Kenya's Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. Bird Conservation International 15: 53-62.

Dinesen, L.; Lehmberg, T.; Rahner, M. C.; Fjeldsa, J. 2001. Conservation priorities for the forests of the Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania, based on primates, duikers and birds. Biological Conservation 99: 223-236.

Dinesen, L.; Lehmberg, T.; Svendsen, J. O.; Hansen, L. A. 1993. Range extensions and other notes on some restricted-range forest birds from West Kilombero in the Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania. Scopus 17: 48-59.

Evans, T. D. 1997. Records of birds from the forests of the East Usambara lowlands, Tanzania, August 1994 - February 1995. Scopus 19: 92-108.

Fanshawe, J. 1997. Second Annual Report of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Management and Conservation Project to the European Commission.

Fanshawe, J. H. 1995. The effects of selective logging on the bird community of Arabuko-Sokoke forest, Kenya. Dissertation. Ph.D., University of Oxford.

Fjeldså, J. 1999. The impact of human forest disturbance on the endemic avifauna of the Udzungwa mountains, Tanzania. Bird Conservation International 9: 47-62.

Seddon, N.; Ekstrom, J. M. M.; Capper, D. R.; Isherwood, I. S.; Muna, R.; Pople, R. G.; Tarimo, E.; Timothy, J. 1999. Notes on the ecology and conservation status of key bird species in Nilo and Nguu North Forest Reserves, Tanzania. Bird Conservation International 9: 9-28.

Seddon, N.; Ekstrom, J. M. M.; Capper, D. R.; Isherwood, I. S.; Muna, R.; Pople, R. G.; Tarimo, E.; Timothy, J. 1999. The importance of the Nilo and Nguu North Forest Reserves for the conservation of montane forest birds in Tanzania. Biological Conservation 87: 59-72.

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Temple, H.

Dinesen, L., Jackson, C., Fjeldså, J., Borghesio, L.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Anthreptes pallidigaster. Downloaded from on 24/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/04/2014.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Amani sunbird (Anthreptes pallidigaster) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Nectariniidae (Sunbirds)
Species name author Sclater & Moreau, 1935
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 870 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Climate change species distributions