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Giant Sunbird Nectarinia thomensis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it is likely to have a small population, given the limited area of suitable primary forest habitat within its range.

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.

Dreptes thomensis Collar and Andrew (1988)

15-17 cm. Very large sunbird. Overall matt black with deep blue and purple iridescence. Pale yellow vent and long, graduated tail tipped white. Long, decurved bill. Voice Harsh two-three note chik chik and jumbled series of harsh and softer notes.

Distribution and population
Nectarinia thomensis is endemic to São Tomé, São Tomé e Príncipe, where it occurs on the central massif, north towards Ponta Figo, south-west to the area around the rivers São Miguel, Xufexufe and Quija and east to Formoso Grande and the Formoso Pequeno and the valley of the Ana Chaves river (Atkinson et al. 1991, Christy and Clarke 1998). It is locally common, but its population is probably small given the area of available habitat.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
The species's population is suspected to be stable on the basis that the clearance of primary forest, the only known threat to the species, is currently limited.

It occurs in both lowland and montane primary forest up to at least 2,000 m, with occasional records from forest-edge cultivation. It feeds on invertebrates, both from moss and lichen-covered branches and from probing in bark, and also on nectar from flowers. Nests have been found in late December and early January (Atkinson et al. 1991, Christy and Clarke 1998).

Historically, large areas of lowland and mid-altitude forest were cleared for cocoa and coffee plantations. Land privatisation is leading to an increase in the number of small farms and clearance of trees. This is not thought to currently affect primary forest but may be a threat in the future (A. Gascoigne in litt. 2000). Limited areas of secondary and primary forest, particularly in the north of its range, are threatened by clearance for cultivation, timber and fuelwood-collection (Atkinson et al. 1991). Construction for the country's developing oil industry, including the established idea of building 'free ports' (free economic zones) (M. Melo in litt. 2003), was seen as a potential threat to the species's habitat. However, prospecting on land was unsuccessful, and any construction is likely to be offshore (F. Olmos in litt. 2007). Road developments along the east and west coasts are increasing access to previously remote areas (A. Gascoigne in litt. 2000).

Conservation Actions Underway
A new law providing for the gazetting of protected areas and the protection of threatened species (A. Gascoigne in litt. 2000, M. Melo in litt. 2003) has been ratified (F. Olmos in litt. 2007). Legislation for the creation of Obo National Park has also been ratified (F. Olmos in litt. 2007) and protection of primary forest as a zona ecologica has been proposed. Conservation Actions Proposed
Research its population size and distribution. Study its ecological requirements. Investigate key threats in order to produce conservation recommendations. Ensure legal protection of all remaining lowland primary forest. List it as a protected species under national law.

Atkinson, P.; Peet, N.; Alexander, J. 1991. The status and conservation of the endemic bird species of Sao Tomé and Príncipe, West Africa. Bird Conservation International 1: 255-282.

Christy, P.; Clarke, W. V. 1998. Guide des Oiseaux de Sao Tome et Principe. ECOFAC, Sao Tome.

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
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Peet, N., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Christy, P., Gascoigne, A., Melo, M., Olmos, F.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Nectarinia thomensis. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Giant sunbird (Nectarinia thomensis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Nectariniidae (Sunbirds)
Species name author Barboza du Bocage, 1889
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 330 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species