Aspects of the ecology and morphology of the protea seedeater, Crithagra leucopterus, a little-known Fynbos endemic


The protea seedeater, Crithagra leucopterus, is one of six passerine birds endemic to the Fynbos Biome, South Africa. It is the least known of these, and there is very little information on breeding and habitat use. Through nest observations and a bird ringing scheme in the eastern sections of the Fynbos, we provide updated information on habitat use, breeding and population biometrics. We document changes in capture rates for a suite of birds in relation to a fire event and use of burnt and unburnt sites within Blue Hill Nature Reserve, South Africa. Protea seedeaters were recorded nesting in mature Fynbos, but feeding in recently burnt Fynbos on freshly released protea seeds, suggesting the species benefits from small scale burns that create a landscape of mixed veld ages. Protea seedeaters weighed less and had shorter wings compared to those of the western Fynbos. Further habitat-use and life-history information on protea seedeaters is needed to help guide conservation management plans, especially in the light of changing fire regimes in the Fynbos.