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Socotra Sunbird Nectarinia balfouri
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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Although this species may have a small range, it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

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.

Distribution and population
This species is endemic to Socotra, Yemen. The highest recorded density and numbers (50 individuals) recorded during the 1993 survey of eastern Socotra were at Wadi Ayhaft (Porter et al. 1996) in the northern foothills of the Hagghier (=Haghir) range.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as common (Cheke et al. 2001).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to habitat degradation through intense grazing and wood clearance for timber.

This species occurs from sea level to at least 1,370 m in all major habitat types and plant associations, including parkland dominated by the endemic tree Dracaena cinnabari (Showler and Davidson 1996), and is recorded at the highest densities and numbers in mixed subtropical and drought-deciduous mesic-montane woodland and scrub, where it is usually seen in pairs (Porter and Martins 1996, Showler and Davidson 1996, Davidson 1996). There is limited recent information on its breeding biology, although observations of juveniles would suggest eggs are laid at the beginning of March (Showler and Davidson 1996). However, young have been found in a nest as late as May (Forbes-Watson 1964). The nest is dome-shaped, usually hidden in a tree fork, with an oval shaped entrance, constructed of woven grass and cobwebs and lined with silky plant material (Showler and Davidson 1996). Food consists mainly of arthropods with occasional fruit and berries. Nectar seems to be a less important food source than might be expected (Showler and Davidson 1996).

Habitat degradation and diminishment through grazing may impact upon population levels; much of the climax vegetation on Socotra has been destroyed through intense grazing and wood clearance for timber.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Cheke, R. A.; Mann, C. F.; Allen, R. 2001. Sunbirds: a guide to the sunbirds, flowerpeckers, spiderhunters and sugarbirds of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

Davidson, P. 1996. Habitats and bird communities in southern Yemen and Socotra. Sandgrouse 17: 102-129.

Forbes-Watson, A. 1964. Report on the Smithsonian Institution ornithological expedition to Socotra.

Porter, R. F.; Martins, R. P. 1996. Southern Yemen and Socotra: the report of the OSME survey in spring 1993. Sandgrouse 17: 1-188.

Porter, R.F., Christensen, S. and Schiermacker-Hansen, P. 1996. Poyser, London, UK.

Showler, D. A.; Davidson, P. 1996. The Socotra Sunbird Nectarinia balfouri. Sandgrouse 17: 148-150.

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., Butchart, S., Harding, M., Fisher, S.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Nectarinia balfouri. Downloaded from on 20/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 20/10/2016.

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 Least Concern
Family Nectariniidae (Sunbirds)
Species name author (Sclater & Hartlaub, 1881)
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,600 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species