Orange-breasted sunbird

The orange-breasted sunbird (Anthobaphes violacea) is the only member of the bird genus Anthobaphes; however, it is sometimes placed in the genus Nectarinia. This sunbird is endemic to the fynbos habitat of southwestern South Africa. They are sexually dimorphic with females being olive green while the males are orange to yellow on the underside with bright green, blue and purple on the head and neck.

Orange-breasted sunbird
SunBird capetown
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Nectariniidae
Genus: Anthobaphes
Cabanis, 1850
Species:
A. violacea
Binomial name
Anthobaphes violacea
(Linnaeus, 1766)
Synonyms
  • Certhia violacea Linnaeus, 1766
  • Nectarinia violacea (Linnaeus, 1766)

Taxonomy

In 1760 the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson included a description of the orange-breasted sunbird in his Ornithologie based on a specimen collected from the Cape of Good Hope. He used the French name Le petit grimpereau a longue queue du Cap de Bonne Espérance and the Latin Certhia Longicauda Minor Capitis Bonae Spei.[2] Although Brisson coined Latin names, these do not conform to the binomial system and are not recognised by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature.[3] When in 1766 the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus updated his Systema Naturae for the twelfth edition, he added 240 species that had been previously described by Brisson.[3] One of these was the orange-breasted sunbird. Linnaeus included a brief description, coined the binomial name Certhia violacea and cited Brisson's work.[4] This species is now the only member of the genus Anthobaphes that was introduced by the German ornithologists Jean Cabanis in 1850.[5] The name is from the Ancient Greek anthobaphēs "bright-coloured" derived from ανθος anthos for flower and βαφη baphē for dyeing.[6]

Description

As with other sunbirds the bill is long and decurved, that of the male being longer than that of the female. The bill, legs and feet are black. The eye is dark brown. The head, throat and mantle of the male are bright metallic green. The rest of the upper parts are olive green. The upper breast is metallic violet and the lower breast is bright orange, fading to paler orange and yellow on the belly. The tail is long and blackish, with elongated central tail feathers, which extend beyond the other feathers. The female has olive-greenish grey upperparts and olive yellowish underparts, paler on the belly. The wings and tail are blackish. The juvenile resembles the female.[7]

The call is a twangy, weak ssharaynk or sskrang, often repeated several times.[7]

Distribution and habitat

Due to its restricted range within the fynbos biome of South Africa's Western Cape, this sunbird is associated with Ericas and proteas. It breeds when the heath flowers, typically in May. The male defends its territory aggressively, attacking and chasing intruders.

This tame species is a common breeder across its limited range, and is an altitudinal migrant, moving to higher altitudes during the southern summer in search of flowers. It is gregarious when not breeding, forming flocks of up to 100 birds.[7][8]

Behaviour

Female Anthobaphes
Female collecting leaf hairs to line nest

Breeding

The orange-breasted sunbird breeds from February to November (Mainly in May - August) The nest built mainly by the female is an oval of rootlets, fine leafy twigs and grass, bound together with spider webs and lined with brown protea fluff. It has a side top entrance, but does not have a covered porch.[7][8] The usual clutch is two eggs and the female alone incubates. The eggs hatch in about 14.5 days and both parents feed the young. The young birds are mostly fed with insect and spider prey.[9]

Food and feeding

The orange-breasted sunbird subsists on flower nectar, predominantly from ericas and proteas, although it will make use of other types of flowering plants as well. It will also take small insects and spiders, often in flight.[8]

Ecology

Orange-breasted sunbirds are known to pollinate Protea, Leucospermum, and Erica species,[10][11] the flowers of which they visit for nectar.[12] They perch on the ground to visit the low flowers of Hyobanche sanguinea and Lachenalia luteola.[13] They also indulge in nectar theft from flowers with longer corolla tubes such as Chasmanthe floribunda.[14] Being fire-prone, the fynbos habitat ensures a great amount of mobility of the birds which may have contributed to a greater level of individual genetic variability despite having a rather limited distribution range.[15]

A number of plasmodia-like blood parasites are known from the orange-breasted sunbirds.[16]

Conservation status

This species is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN. It may however be adversely affected by urbanisation, habitat conversion to agriculture, and fynbos fires.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Nectarinia violacea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  2. ^ Brisson, Mathurin Jacques (1760). Ornithologie, ou, Méthode contenant la division des oiseaux en ordres, sections, genres, especes & leurs variétés (in French and Latin). Volume 3. Paris: Jean-Baptiste Bauche. pp. 649–651, Plate 33 fig 6. The two stars (**) at the start of the section indicates that Brisson based his description on the examination of a specimen.
  3. ^ a b Allen, J.A. (1910). "Collation of Brisson's genera of birds with those of Linnaeus". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 28: 317–335.
  4. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1766). Systema naturae : per regna tria natura, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Volume 1, Part 1 (12th ed.). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 188.
  5. ^ Cabanis, Jean; Heine, Ferdinand (1850). Museum Heineanum : Verzeichniss der ornithologischen Sammlung des Oberamtmann Ferdinand Heine, auf Gut St. Burchard vor Halberstadt (in German and Latin). Volume 1. Halbertstadt: R. Frantz. p. 103.
  6. ^ Jobling, J.A. (2018). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d Sinclair, Ian; Hockey, Phil; Tarboton, Warwick; Ryan, Peter (2011). Sasol Birds of Southern Africa: The Region's Most Comprehensively Illustrated Guide. Struik.
  8. ^ a b c "Orange-breasted sunbird - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds" (PDF).
  9. ^ Broekhuysen, G. J. (1963). "The breeding biology of the orange-breasted sunbird Anthobaphes violacea (Linnaeus)". Ostrich. 34 (4): 187–234. doi:10.1080/00306525.1963.9633478. ISSN 0030-6525.
  10. ^ Coetzee, A.; Seymour, C.L.; Spottiswoode, C.N. (2018). "Investigating the origins of flower colour polymorphisms in sunbird-pollinated Erica (Ericaceae)". South African Journal of Botany. 115: 282–283. doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2018.02.029. ISSN 0254-6299.
  11. ^ Johnson, Christopher Michael; He, Tianhua; Pauw, Anton (2014-05-15). "Floral divergence in closely related Leucospermum tottum (Proteaceae) varieties pollinated by birds and long-proboscid flies". Evolutionary Ecology. 28 (5): 849–868. doi:10.1007/s10682-014-9712-0. ISSN 0269-7653.
  12. ^ Zoeller, K. C.; Steenhuisen, S.-L.; Johnson, S. D.; Midgley, J. J. (2016-03-15). "New evidence for mammal pollination of Protea species (Proteaceae) based on remote-camera analysis". Australian Journal of Botany. 64 (1): 1. doi:10.1071/BT15111. ISSN 1444-9862.
  13. ^ Turner, R.C.; Midgley, J.J. (2016). "Sunbird-pollination in the geoflorous species Hyobanche sanguinea (Orobanchaceae) and Lachenalia luteola (Hyacinthaceae)". South African Journal of Botany. 102: 186–189. doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2015.07.004. ISSN 0254-6299.
  14. ^ Geerts, S. (2016-06-08). "Can short-billed nectar thieving sunbirds replace long-billed sunbird pollinators in transformed landscapes?". Plant Biology. 18 (6): 1048–1052. doi:10.1111/plb.12474. ISSN 1435-8603. PMID 27219484.
  15. ^ Chan, Chi-hang; Vuuren, Bettine Jansen van; Cherry, Michael I. (2011-04-01). "Fynbos fires may contribute to the maintenance of high genetic diversity in orange-breasted sunbirds (Anthobaphes violacea) : research article". South African Journal of Wildlife Research. 41 (1). hdl:10520/EJC117359. ISSN 2410-7220.
  16. ^ Lauron, Elvin J.; Loiseau, Claire; Bowie, Rauri C. K.; Spicer, Greg S.; Smit, Thomas B.; Melo, Martim; Sehgal, Ravinder N. M. (2014). "Coevolutionary patterns and diversification of avian malaria parasites in African sunbirds (Family Nectariniidae)" (PDF). Parasitology. 142 (5): 635–647. doi:10.1017/s0031182014001681. ISSN 0031-1820. PMID 25352083.
Albany thickets

The Albany thickets is an ecoregion of dense woodland in southern South Africa, which is concentrated around the Albany region of the Eastern Cape (whence the region's name originates).

Birds of Eden

Birds of Eden is the world's largest free flight aviary and bird sanctuary, located near Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape, South Africa. The mesh dome of the sanctuary was built over 2.3 hectares (5.7 acres) of indigenous forest, and is up to 55 metres (180 ft) above ground level. 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) of walkways, about 75% of which are elevated, let visitors see the birds at all levels of the aviary.

Birds of Eden is one of the four Sanctuaries under The South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance (SAASA). As a member of SAASA Birds of Eden was honoured with four major tourism awards in 2014. The four awards are namely the Lilizela Tourism Visitor Experience of the Year Award at a 'Wildlife Encounters', the Skål International Sustainable Tourism Award, Overall winner of the World Responsible Tourism Award as well as the Gold Award in World Responsible Tourism in the category of 'Best Animal Welfare Initiative'

Endemism

Endemism is the ecological state of a species being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation, country or other defined zone, or habitat type; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. The extreme opposite of endemism is cosmopolitan distribution. An alternative term for a species that is endemic is precinctive, which applies to species (and subspecific categories) that are restricted to a defined geographical area.

Erica

Erica is a genus of roughly 860 species of flowering plants in the family Ericaceae. The English common names heath and heather are shared by some closely related genera of similar appearance. The genus Calluna was formerly included in Erica – it differs in having even smaller scale-leaves (less than 2–3 mm long), and the flower corolla consisting of separate petals. Erica is sometimes referred to as "winter (or spring) heather" to distinguish it from Calluna "summer (or autumn) heather".

Fynbos

Fynbos (; Afrikaans pronunciation: [ˈfɛi̯nbos] meaning fine-leaved plants) is a small belt of natural shrubland or heathland vegetation located in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa. This area is predominantly winter rainfall coastal and mountainous areas with a Mediterranean climate. The fynbos ecoregion is within the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome. In fields related to biogeography, fynbos is known for its exceptional degree of biodiversity and endemism, consisting about 80% (8,500 fynbos) species of the Cape floral kingdom where nearly 6,000 of them are endemic. This land has faced severe threats and still does, but due to the many economic uses conservation efforts are being made to help restore it.

Leucospermum

Leucospermum is a genus of evergreen upright, sometimes creeping shrubs that is assigned to the Proteaceae, with currently forty-eight known species. Almost all species are easily recognised as Leucospermum because of the long protruding styles with a thickened pollen-presenter, which jointly give the flower head the appearance of a pincushion, its common name. Pincushions can be found in South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

The shrubs mostly have a single stem at their base, but some species sprout from an underground rootstock, from which the plant can regrow after fire has killed the above ground biomass. In a larger group of species, specimens are killed by fire, and their survival depends on the seeds. In all species, seeds are collected by ants, which take them to their underground nests to feed on their ant breads, a seed dispersal strategy known as myrmecochory. This ensures that the seeds do not burn, so new plants can grow from them.

Leucospermum species mostly seated, simple, mostly leathery, often softly hairy leaves, set in a spiral, with entire margins or more often, with 3–17 blunt teeth with thickened, bony tips, and without stipules at their foot. The flowers are organised with many together in heads with bracts on the under- or outside. The hermaphrodite flowers themselves are set on a common base that may be cylindrical, conic or flat, and have small bracts at their base. The flowers have a perianth that is hairy on the outside, particularly at the tip, and consists of four tepals that are merged into a tube. Usually the four anthers are merged individually with the tip the perianth lobes, and only in a few species, a very short filament is present that further down cannot be distinguished from the tepals anymore. While still in the bud, the pollen is transferred from the anthers to the pollen-presenter, a thickening at the tip of the style. At that stage, the style grows considerably and rips through the sutures between the two perianth lobes facing away from the centre of the flower head. The perianth lobes all four remain attached to each other, or with three, or the four free lobes all curl back on themselves (like the lit of a sardine can), rimming the top of the tube. The superior ovary consists of one carpel and contains a single ovary, and is subtended by four small scales. The fruit is an oval or almost globe-shaped nut.

Most species have very limited ecological ranges and distribution areas, and many are rare or endangered. The often attractive, large flower heads and evergreen foliage, the straight stems, combined with long flowering period makes that Leucospermum species and their hybrids are bred as garden ornamental and cut flower.

Leucospermum calligerum

Leucospermum calligerum is a softly hairy shrub, with wand-like branches, entire ovate leaves that have a bony tip of about 25 × 6 mm (1 × ¼ in), and globular heads of 2–3½ cm (0.8–1.4 in) in diameter, with two to six together near the tip of the branches and flowering in turn, that consist of 4-merous flowers, initially cream-colored, later pink, with the petals curled and the styles 2–2½ cm (0.8–1.0 in) long, sticking out like pins from a cushion. It is called arid pincushion or common louse pincushion in English and rooiluisie in Afrikaans. Well-scented flowers can be found from July to January. It naturally occurs in fynbos in the Northern Cape and Western Cape provinces of South Africa.

Leucospermum rodolentum

Leucospermum rodolentum is an upright, evergreen shrub of up to 3.0 m high, from the family Proteaceae. It has felty grey, elliptic to wedge-shaped leaves of 4–6½ cm (1.8–2.6 in) long and ¾–1½ cm wide, and very sweetly scented, globe-shaped, 3–3½ cm (1.2–1.4 in) wide, bright yellow flower heads, that are seated or on a very short stalk of ½ cm long, grouped with two to four together. Its common names include is sandveld pincushion in English and sandluisie or sandveldluisiesbos in Afrikaans. The plants are in bloom between August and November. It is an endemic species that only grows in a small area of the Western Cape province of South-Africa.

Leucospermum tottum

Leucospermum tottum is an upright, evergreen shrub of up to 1½ m (4½ ft) high and 2 m (6 ft) in diameter from the Proteaceae. The oblong, mostly entire leaves with a bony tip are somewhat spreading and distant from each other, and so exposing the stem. It is called elegant pincushion or ribbon pincushion in English, and oranje-rooi speldekussing (orange-red pincushion) or vuurhoutjies (fire sticks) in Afrikaans. Flowers can be found between September and January. The species naturally occurs in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Two different varieties are distinguished, which are genetically very close, but differ in the color, orientation and tube-length of the flowers, the volume and sugar content of the nectar. This is probably an adaptation to different pollinators.

List of endemic birds of southern Africa

The following is a list of bird species endemic or near-endemic to southern Africa (South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and southern Mozambique).

Grey-winged francolin, Scleroptila africanus

Orange River francolin, Scleroptila levaillantoides

Red-billed spurfowl (red-billed francolin), Pternistes adspersus

Cape spurfowl (Cape francolin), Pternistes capensis

Natal spurfowl (Natal francolin), Pternistes natalensis

South African shelduck, Tadorna cana

Cape shoveler, Anas smithii

Hottentot buttonquail, Turnix hottentotta

Knysna woodpecker, Campethera notata

Ground woodpecker, Geocolaptes olivaceus

Acacia pied barbet, Tricholaema leucomelas

Monteiro's hornbill (Damara hornbill), Tockus monteiri

Southern yellow-billed hornbill, Tockus leucomelas

Bradfield's hornbill, Tockus bradfieldi

White-backed mousebird, Colius colius

Cape parrot, Poicephalus robustus

Ruppell's parrot, Poicephalus rueppellii

Rosy-faced lovebird, Agapornis roseicollis

Bradfield's swift, Apus bradfieldi

Knysna turaco, Tauraco corythaix

Ludwig's bustard, Neotis ludwigii

Red-crested korhaan, Eupodotis ruficrista

Southern black korhaan (black bustard), Afrotis afra (Eupodotis afra)

Northern black korhaan (white-quilled bustard), Afrotis afraoides (Eupodotis afraoides)

Ruppell's korhaan, Eupodotis rueppellii

Karoo korhaan, Eupodotis vigorsii

Blue korhaan, Eupodotis caerulescens

Blue crane, Anthropoides paradiseus

Namaqua sandgrouse, Pterocles namaqua

Double-banded sandgrouse, Pterocles bicinctus

Burchell's sandgrouse, Pterocles burchelli

Burchell's courser, Cursorius rufus

Hartlaub's gull, Larus hartlaubii

Cape vulture, Gyps coprotheres

Black harrier, Circus maurus

Southern pale chanting goshawk, Melierax canorus

Forest buzzard, Buteo trizonatus

Jackal buzzard, Buteo rufofuscus

Crowned cormorant, Phalacrocorax coronatus

Bank cormorant, Phalacrocorax neglectus

Southern bald ibis, Geronticus calvus

African penguin, Spheniscus demersus

Southern tchagra, Tchagra tchagra

Southern boubou, Laniarius ferrugineus

Crimson-breasted shrike, Laniarius atrococcineus

Bokmakierie, Telophorus zeylonus

Olive bushshrike, Telophorus olivaceus

White-tailed shrike, Lanioturdus torquatus

Cape batis, Batis capensis

Pririt batis, Batis pririt

Southern white-crowned shrike, Eurocephalus anguitimens

Cape rockjumper, Chaetops frenatus

Drakensberg rockjumper, Chaetops aurantius

Cape penduline tit, Anthoscopus minutus

Carp's tit, Parus carpi

Ashy tit, Parus cinerascens

Grey tit, Parus afer

African red-eyed bulbul, Pycnonotus nigricans

Cape bulbul, Pycnonotus capensis

Fairy flycatcher, Stenostira scita

Rockrunner, Achaetops pycnopygius

Cape grassbird, Sphenoeacus afer

Victorin's warbler, Bradypterus victorini

Karoo eremomela, Eremomela gregalis

Knysna warbler, Bradypterus sylvaticus

Barratt's warbler, Bradypterus barratti

Black-faced babbler, Turdoides melanops

Southern pied babbler, Turdoides bicolor

Bush blackcap, Lioptilus nigricapillus

Layard's tit-babbler, Parisoma layardi

Chestnut-vented tit-babbler, Parisoma subcaeruleum

Cape white-eye, Zosterops virens

Orange River white-eye, Zosterops pallidus

Grey-backed cisticola, Cisticola subruficapillus

Rufous-winged cisticola, Cisticola galactotes

Cloud cisticola, Cisticola textrix

Black-chested prinia, Prinia flavicans

Karoo prinia, Prinia maculosa

Drakensberg prinia, Prinia hypoxantha

Namaqua warbler, Phragmacia substriata

Robert's warbler, Oreophilais robertsi

Rufous-eared warbler, Malcorus pectoralis

Rudd's apalis, Apalis ruddi

Chirinda apalis, Apalis chirindensis

Barred wren-warbler, Calamonastes fasciolatus

Cinnamon-breasted warbler, Euryptila subcinnamomea

Monotonous lark, Mirafra passerina

Melodious lark, Mirafra cheniana

Cape clapper lark, Mirafra apiata

Eastern clapper lark, Mirafra fasciolata

Sabota lark (incl. Bradfield's), Mirafra sabota

Fawn-coloured lark, Calendulauda africanoides

Rudd's lark, Heteromirafra ruddi

Red lark, Certhilauda burra

Karoo lark, Certhilauda albescens

Barlow's lark, Certhilauda barlowi

Dune lark, Certhilauda erythrochlamys

Cape long-billed lark, Certhilauda curvirostris

Agulhas long-billed lark, Certhilauda brevirostris

Eastern long-billed lark, Certhilauda semitorquata

Karoo long-billed lark, Certhilauda subcoronata

Short-clawed lark, Certhilauda chuana

Gray's lark, Ammomanes grayi

Spike-heeled lark, Chersomanes albofasciata

Black-eared sparrow-lark, Eremopterix australis

Grey-backed sparrow-lark, Eremopterix verticalis

Stark's lark, Eremalauda starki

Pink-billed lark, Spizocorys conirostris

Botha's lark, Spizocorys fringillaris

Sclater's lark, Spizocorys sclateri

Large-billed lark, Galerida magnirostris

Cape rock thrush, Monticola rupestris

Sentinel rock thrush, Monticola explorator

Short-toed rock thrush Monticola brevipes

Karoo thrush Turdus smithi

Chat flycatcher, Bradornis infuscatus

Marico flycatcher, Bradornis mariquensis

Fiscal flycatcher, Sigelus silens

White-throated robin-chat, Cossypha humeralis

Chorister robin-chat, Cossypha dichroa

Brown scrub robin, Cercotrichas signata

Kalahari scrub robin, Cercotrichas paena

Karoo scrub robin, Cercotrichas coryphaeus

Herero chat, Namibornis herero

Buff-streaked chat, Oenanthe bifasciata

Mountain wheatear, Oenanthe monticola

Sickle-winged chat, Cercomela sinuata

Karoo chat, Cercomela schlegelii

Tractrac chat, Cercomela tractrac

Anteating chat, Myrmecocichla formicivora

Boulder chat, Pinarornis plumosus

Pale-winged starling, Onychognathus nabouroup

Burchell's starling, Lamprotornis australis

Pied starling, Spreo bicolor

Gurney's sugarbird, Promerops gurneyi

Cape sugarbird, Promerops cafer

Orange-breasted sunbird, Anthobaphes violacea

Southern double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris chalybea

Greater double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris afra

Neergaard's sunbird, Cinnyris neergaardi

Dusky sunbird, Cinnyris fusca

Great sparrow, Passer motitensis

Cape sparrow, Passer melanurus

Cape longclaw, Macronyx capensis

Yellow-breasted pipit, Anthus chloris

African rock pipit, Anthus crenatus

Scaly-feathered finch, Sporopipes squamifrons

Sociable weaver, Philetairus socius

Cape weaver, Ploceus capensis

Pink-throated twinspot, Hypargos margaritatus

Swee waxbill, Estrilda melanotis

Red-headed finch, Amadina erythrocephala

Shaft-tailed whydah, Vidua regia

Forest canary, Crithagra scotops

Lemon-breasted canary, Crithagra citrinipectus

Yellow canary, Crithagra flaviventris

White-throated canary, Crithagra albogularis

Protea canary, Crithagra leucoptera

Cape siskin, Crithagra totta

Drakensberg siskin, Crithagra symonsi

Cape canary, Serinus canicollis

Black-headed canary, Serinus alario

Lark-like bunting, Emberiza impetuani

Cape bunting, Emberiza capensis

List of sunbird species

Sunbirds and spiderhunters form the family Nectariniidae. The International Ornithological Congress (IOC) recognizes 145 species distributed among 16 genera.This list is presented according to the IOC taxonomic sequence and can also be sorted alphabetically by common name and binomial.

Mimetes capitulatus

Mimetes capitulatus is an evergreen, upright, rounded shrub of about 2 m (7 ft) high, from the family Proteaceae. It has geyish green, lance- to egg-shaped leaves ending in a thickened tip. The flower heads and subtending leaves form a cylindric inflorescence, topped by ordinary, more or less upright leaves. Each primarily orange flowerhead contains 10–13 flowers with conspicuously scarlet styles, yellow under the narrow hourglass-like pollen presenter at its tip. Flowers can usually be found from Mid-June till December, peaking in August. It is called conical pagoda in English and skraalstompie in Afrikaans.

Mimetes hirtus

Mimetes hirtus is an upright, evergreen shrub of 1½–2 m (5–6½ ft) high from the family Proteaceae. It has upright, overlapping, (broadly) lance-shaped leaves, without teeth, but with one thickened pointy tip. It has cylindric inflorescences topped by a pine apple-like tuft of pinkish-brownish, smaller and more or less horizontal leaves. The flowerheads are tightly enclosed by yellow, red-tipped bracts, only the 9–14 long red styles and the whitish silky tips of the perianth sticking out. It is primarily pollinated by the Cape sugarbird. It is an endemic species of the southwest of the Western Cape province of South Africa, and grows in wet zones at the base of south facing mountain slopes. Flower heads may be found from May to November, but peaks in July and August. The species has several vernacular names of which marsh pagoda seems to be used most.

Nature's Valley

Nature's Valley is a holiday resort and small village on the Garden Route along the southern Cape coast of South Africa. Nature's Valley lies between the Salt River, the foothills of the Tsitsikamma Mountains, the Indian Ocean and the Groot River lagoon. Nature's Valley has a balmy climate and is surrounded by the de Vasselot Nature Reserve which is part of the Tsitsikamma Park, and in turn part of the Garden Route National Park.

Protea cynaroides

Protea cynaroides, the king protea, is a flowering plant. It is a distinctive member of Protea, having the largest flower head in the genus. The species is also known as giant protea, honeypot or king sugar bush. It is widely distributed in the southwestern and southern parts of South Africa in the fynbos region.

The king protea is the national flower of South Africa. It also is the flagship of the Protea Atlas Project, run by the South African National Botanical Institute.

The king protea has several colour forms and horticulturists have recognized 81 garden varieties, some of which have injudiciously been planted in its natural range. In some varieties the pink of the flower and red borders of leaves are replaced by a creamy yellow. This unusual flower has a long vase life in flower arrangements, and makes for an excellent dried flower.

Protea cynaroides is adapted to survive wildfires by its thick underground stem, which contains many dormant buds; these will produce the new growth after the fire.

Sibley-Monroe checklist 17

The Sibley-Monroe checklist was a landmark document in the study of birds. It drew on extensive DNA-DNA hybridisation studies to reassess the relationships between modern birds.

Southern double-collared sunbird

The southern double-collared sunbird or lesser double-collared sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus) is a small passerine bird which breeds in southern Africa. It is mainly resident, but partially migratory in the north-east of its range.

Sunbird

The sunbirds and spiderhunters make up a family, Nectariniidae, of passerine birds. They are small, slender passerines from the Old World, usually with downward-curved bills. Many are brightly coloured, often with iridescent feathers, particularly in the males. Many species also have especially long tail feathers. Their range extends through most of Africa to the Middle East, South Asia, South-east Asia and southern China, to Indonesia, New Guinea and northern Australia. Species diversity is highest in equatorial regions.

There are 145 species in 16 genera. Most sunbirds feed largely on nectar, but will also eat insects and spiders, especially when feeding their young. Flowers that prevent access to their nectar because of their shape (for example, very long and narrow flowers) are simply punctured at the base near the nectaries, from which the birds sip the nectar. Fruit is also part of the diet of some species. Their flight is fast and direct, thanks to their short wings.

The sunbirds have counterparts in two very distantly related groups: the hummingbirds of the Americas and the honeyeaters of Australia. The resemblances are due to convergent evolution brought about by a similar nectar-feeding lifestyle. Some sunbird species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but they usually perch to feed.

Wildlife of South Africa

The wildlife of South Africa consists of the flora and fauna of this country in southern Africa. The country has a range of different habitat types and an ecologically rich and diverse wildlife, vascular plants being particularly abundant, many of them endemic to the country. There are few forested areas, much savanna grassland, semi-arid Karoo vegetation and the fynbos of the Cape Floristic Region. Famed for its national parks and big game, 297 species of mammal have been recorded in South Africa, as well as 858 species of bird and over 20,000 species of vascular plants.

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