Principe Speirops Zosterops leucophaeus


Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Near Threatened because it has an extremely small range, and may have a small population, which is likely to be declining owing to on-going changes in land-use.

Population justification
The population size of this species has not been quantified; it is described as frequent to common but somewhat local.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and fragmentation.

Distribution and population

Speirops leucophoeus is endemic to Príncipe, São Tomé e Príncipe. There is limited evidence of a possible decline between the 1970s, when it was described as abundant, and the 1990s (Atkinson et al. 1991). It is now considered poorly known (Olmos and Turshak undated). However, it remains common in all habitats where it occurs (J. Baillie and A. Gascoigne in litt. 2000).


It occurs in all forested habitats, including plantations, up to 800 m. It occurs at relatively high densities in primary and secondary forest and agricultural habitats (Dallimer et al. 2012), but it is most abundant in forest regrowth, trees and bushes in farmland and shaded cocoa and coffee plantations under the shade of large Eurythrina trees (Fry et al. 2000). In primary forest it occurs mainly in the middle strata. Its diet consists of insects, spiders, berries, seeds and other plant matter. The nest is an openly woven cup slung between two twigs, made of grasses, twigs, moss and petioles. One nest was observed to contain two eggs (Fry et al. 2000).


The decline between the 1970s and 1990s was possibly as a result of pesticide use in plantations (Atkinson et al. 1991). Land privatisation is presently causing an increase in the number of small farms on the island and a consequent reduction in tree cover. This may have an impact on its population in the near future, particularly as secondary forest habitats are encroached. The proposed establishment of an economic free-trade zone would have been a serious threat but it appears unlikely to go ahead (A. Gascoigne in litt. 2000).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation action is known for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to assess the total population size. Conduct regular surveys to monitor population trends. Study the impact of changing land-use on the species. Effectively protect significant areas of suitable forest at key sites, in both strictly protected areas and community led multiple use areas. Promote conservation and ornithology to local people.


12 cm. Small, very pale grey, warbler-like bird. Grey upperparts with exceptionally pale grey head, almost appearing white at times. Pale grey underparts. Darker grey wings and tail. In some lights a tinge of blue can be seen in the grey plumage. Voice Long trilling trrrrrrrruuuuu or rapid tric tric tric.


Text account compilers
Khwaja, N., O'Brien, A., Peet, N., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Taylor, J., Westrip, J.

Atkinson, P., Gascoigne, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Zosterops leucophaeus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/07/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/07/2019.