Besides the impressive Big 6 Birds, Southern Africa is blessed with an abundance of other bird species…over 950 in total. This makes it an ideal location for birders from around the world! Summertime is a great time to visit the region as many migratory species move into Southern Africa to spend their summers here. Birding in winter is also great as the bush isn’t so thick, making spotting easier. Identification can also be easier because there arent as many immature and juvenile birds around.

971 is the accepted species list at the moment, some quite common, others rare…..endemics, migrants, occasional visitors, big and small, dull and bright….it’s a real treasure-trove for birders from around the world.

I suppose the one really big thing that defines birds is their ability to fly. They are masters of the skies and have a number of very specialised adaptations that makes this mode of transport possible for them.

The diagram below shows some of these flight adaptations.

 

Fun Facts About Birds

The Ostrich is the largest and heaviest bird in the world. So heavy that they can’t fly.

 

Scroll through the gallery below to see a few of the species that one could typically see on safari.

 

Black-chested Snake Eagle (Circaetus pectoralis)
At a distance can appear similar to Martial Eagle, but is much smaller and lacks the spots on the chest.
Occurs in Lowveld and dryer western regions of South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus)
The most brightly coloured eagle in the region and unmistakable when seen.
Immature eagles are an almost uniform brown.
Occurs in Lowveld in South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and eastern half of Namibia.
African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)
A well known eagle distributed though most of the southern african region except the dry Kalahari region.
Famous for its loud ringing call
African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)
This picture is of an immature bird which can be confused with a Western Osprey
Brown Snake Eagle (Circaetus cinereus)
The largest snake-eagle with dark brown plumage, large yellow eyes and rounded head.
Yellow Billed Kite (Milvus parasitus)
Distinctive forked tail in flight.
Black Shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
Smallish grey and white raptor with distinctive black shoulder patch and a bright red eye.
Pygmy Falcon (Polihierax semitorquatus)
The smallest of the diurnal raptors in the region at only 20cm and 60grams.
The female has a chestnut coloured back.
Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis)
The sexes are dimorphic in plumage colouration (means they look differently to each other).
The male is dark grey with white under the wing but the female, pictured here, is streaked on the body with a pale chestnut lower belly.
White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus)
The most common vulture in game reserves in the lowveld region.
Smaller than the Cape Vulture.
Regarded as vulnerable.
White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus)
 
Pearl-spotted Owlet (Glaucidium perlatum)
One of the smallest owls in the region but fairly common in game and nature reserves in Lowveld, nothern South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, northern Namibia and western Mozambique.
African Scops Owl (Otus senegalensis)
Has two colour morphs, grey and grey-brown both with yellow eyes.
These birds are cryptically camouflaged and blend in perfectly against tree bark making them quite hard to spot.
Black Crake
Found in fresh water areas fringed with vegetation.
Usually found in pairs.
African Spoonbill
A large water bird with very distinctive spoon shape at the end of the bill used to catch small fish and aquatic invertibrates.
White-faced Duck
Distinctive white face with an overall dark colour.
Also called the White-faced Whistling Duck.
Pied Avocet
Pied (black and white) plummage with very slender upturned bill.
Black-winged Stilt
Pied (black and white) plummage with bright red legs.
Three-banded Plover
The only plover with a double black band, and a white band inbetween.
Water Thick-Knee
Steaked upper parts and grey wing panel distinguishes it from the similar Spotted Thick-Knee.
Green-backed Heron
African Jacana
Woodlands Kingfisher
Preys on insects and not fish.
A summer visitor to the region.
Pied Kingfisher
Commonly seen near streams and ponds. Catches small fish.
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
White-fronted Bee-eater
European Bee-eater
Carmine Bee-eater
European Roller
Lilac-breasted Roller
Swainsons Francolin
Double-banded Sandgrouse
Diederick Cuckoo
Levaillant's Cuckoo
Crimson-breasted Shrike
Black-backed Puffback
African Hoopoe
Arrow-marked Babbler
Yellow-billed Stork
Red-backed Shrike (Female)
Red-billed Buffalo-weaver
Red-billed Oxpecker
Red-crested Korhaan
Sacred Ibis
Paradise Flycatcher
Maribou Stork
Hammerkop (Afrikaans for Hammerhead)
Lesser-striped Swallow
Cattle Egret (breeding plummage)
Crested Guineafowl
Blue Waxbill
Burchell's Coucal
Burchell's Starling