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Rockefeller's Sunbird Nectarinia rockefelleri
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This poorly known species is likely to have a very small population and is consequently listed as Vulnerable. If any threats to its habitat become apparent and it is found to be declining, it may need to be uplisted to Endangered (Collar and Stuart 1985).

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.

12 cm. Large sunbird. Iridescent green and blue head, back and tail with dark grey wings. Bright scarlet-red breast fading to buff on belly with red vent. Female greyish-olive above with paler olive-yellow underparts. Similar spp. Confusion arises with Regal Sunbird N. regia but rockefelleri is larger and has longer bill and no yellow on sides of breast and flanks, except for pectoral tufts. Voice Harsh schick schick contact call. Song unknown. Hints It occurs alone or in pairs at mid-height in trees, sometimes joining mixed-species parties.

Distribution and population
Nectarinia rockefelleri occupies a very small range in the northern Itombwe Mountains and mountains to the north and west of Lake Kivu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. A record from Rwegura in Burundi requires confirmation (Gaugris et al. 1981), as well as a single, isolated sight record from Nyungwe in Rwanda (Dowsett-Lemaire 1990).

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
Although little information is available, the estimated low impact of current threats at the high altitudes this species inhabits suggests that its population is stable.

This is mainly a species of gallery bamboo forest at higher altitudes, apparently preferring thickets along streams rather than bamboo forest itself. It also occurs in montane forest down to 2,050 m and afro-alpine moorland.

The species would presumably be more threatened if forest destruction became serious within its restricted range, although this may not be immediately likely given the very high altitudes involved. Armed militia groups mining for Coltan (fuelled mainly through the mobile phone industry) entered Kahuzi-Biéga National Park in 2001 and have caused disturbance through local deforestation, unregulated mining and illegal hunting.

Conservation Actions Underway
The species's habitat is protected in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park, west of Lake Kivu. Itombwe Forest has recently been gazetted as a community reserve, although the boundaries still need to be defined (A. Plumptre in litt. 2007). Other parts of the Itombwe Mountains currently have no protected status. Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to assess the species's population size (when the security situation permits). Conduct regular surveys to monitor population trends (as long as the security situation is conducive). Carry out research to determine what threats, if any, the species faces (only carrying out fieldwork once it is safe to do so). Investigate the status of Kahuzi-Biéga National Park. Search for the species at Rwegura and Nyungwe. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status.

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.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F. 1990. Eco-ethology, distribution and status of Nyungwe Forest birds, Rwanda. In: Dowsett, R.J. (ed.), Enquête faunistique et floristique dans la Forêt de Nyungwe, Rwanda, pp. 31-85. Tauraco Press, Ely, U.K.

Gaugris, Y.; Prigogine, A.; Vande weghe, J. P. 1981. Additions et corrections à l'avifaune du Burundi. Le Gerfaut 71: 3-39.

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.

Plumptre, A., Wilson, J.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Nectarinia rockefelleri. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

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 Nectariniidae (Sunbirds)
Species name author (Chapin, 1932)
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,900 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species