Gurney's Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi


Justification of Red List Category
Data from Southern African Bird Atlas Projects suggests that this species is experiencing at least a moderately rapid decline, but there is uncertainty over the rate of decline. Therefore, this species is now listed as Near Threatened, but further information regarding population trends may mean that the species's Red List status requires re-evaluation.

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

Trend justification
Lee et al. (2017) analysed Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP) data (SABAP1 1987-1992; SABAP2 2007-2014. Note SABAP2 is ongoing but data taken from 2014) and suggested that this species is experiencing a decline in South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Lee et al. (2017) suggest that reporting rate has declined 43.5%, range has declined 40.4% and core range has declined 35.2% between SABAPs (although the corrected population change metric suggests population declines may be lower than this). Declines may in part be due to incomplete sampling during SABAP2, but it is precautionarily assessed that the species may be at least declining moderately rapidly over 3 generations (c.22 years).

Distribution and population

Promerops gurneyi occurs in scattered populations, mainly in South Africa, with populations from Limpopo Province (extending into Swaziland and potentially Lesotho) to Eastern Cape, where it may have historically overlapped with Cape Sugarbird Promerops cafer (see Hockey et al. 2005). A separate, isolated population occurs on the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique (Hockey et al. 2005).


It inhabits areas of montane shrub, as well as areas next to montane forest (Hockey et al. 2005). Protea spp. are especially important in South Africa, and it will occur in flower farms (Hockey et al. 2005).


Commercial afforestation may threaten this species's habitat (Allan et al. 1997). While Protea farming does provide extra habitat for the species, it could be possible that conflict will arise with farmers due to the birds damaging flowers (Hockey et al. 2005). Climate change may also be a threat (Simmons et al. 2004), and temperatures in South Africa have been reported to be rising (van Wilgen et al. 2016). If fires become too frequent, they too could affect the species by degrading its habitat (see Taylor et al. 2015), though whether fires are significantly impacting the species currently is uncertain.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted actions are known, though it does occur in several protected areas.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor the species to get a better estimate of population trends. Engage with land-owners to ensure appropriate habitat management (Taylor et al. 2015), and to reduce any potential conflict with Protea farmers.


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Westrip, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Promerops gurneyi. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/01/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/01/2022.