The lure to Africa for bird enthusiasts has to be the sheer volume and diversity of species. Africa is home to a crazy 2,341 bird species and 67% are endemic to the continent! So if you are a birder keen to actively look for endemic species or a bird watcher just wanting to look at birds while on holidays, make sure Africa is on your bird holiday list.
For us the dollar is strong right now against the Rand so it’s paradise for those wanting to see the birds in South Africa. The country has something like 850 recorded bird species and around 725 resident birds. An impressive 69 bird species are confined to its borders along with Lesotho and Swaziland. Twenty of the 69 are found in all three countries while one other species, the South African Cliff Swallow breeds only in these three countries and then migrates to Northern Africa for the winter.
‘The ultimate skulker’
There are actually only 18 bird species that are strictly ‘confined’ to South Africa. The others are what they call ‘near-endemics’ with 70% or more of their home range within the borders of South Africa. One of the most fascinating birds is critically endangered, the White-winged Flufftail. This is the ultimate skulker, migrating between South Africa and Ethiopia.
The birds in South Africa are often found in the Cape and then the Drakensberg Escarpment.
Iconic birds of the continent and present in South Africa are African fish eagles, usually found along large bodies of water either still or flowing and the African pygmy-kingfisher, a monogamous bird tat excavates burrows in sandy banks.
‘You will hear before you see the Grey Go-Away bird’
Birds in South Africa high on the list to spot would be the national bird -The Blue Crane and the Drakensberg Rockjumper – found in Lesotho and high in the Drakensberg range. There is also the Cape Rockjumper, endemic to Cape Fold Mountains.
You will hear before you see the Grey Go-Away bird. Meanwhile, the colourful Lilac-breasted Roller is endemic to Africa and fairly common in South Africa. The largest bird in the world is here too, the common ostrich. The Secretary bird, a predator species is spectacular to watch as they hunt on the ground and often in pairs. Francolin and Guinea Fowl keep you amused with their funny little walks and chirping calls. Of course for the kids, Lion King’s Zazu is here too, the Red-billed Hornbill.