The birds of Africa are a diverse and colorful collection of species that inhabit the vast continent of Africa. With over 2,600 species, Africa is home to a wide variety of birdlife, ranging from small passerines to large raptors, and everything in between. The continent is renowned for its bird diversity, with many species found nowhere else on Earth.
Africa’s avian fauna has evolved in response to its varied landscapes, which range from deserts and savannas to tropical rainforests and alpine habitats. As a result, African birds have developed unique adaptations to survive in these different environments, such as the long necks of the ostrich and the impressive wingspans of the African Fish Eagle.
Many African birds are also known for their vibrant plumage, with striking colors and intricate patterns that make them some of the most beautiful birds in the world. Additionally, some African birds have cultural and spiritual significance for the people who live on the continent, with some species being revered as sacred and others being hunted for their meat and feathers.
Overall, the birds of Africa are an important part of the continent’s rich biodiversity, and their presence adds to the wonder and beauty of the African landscape.
Birds of Africa – Most Common African Birds
African Masked Weaver
The African Masked Weaver is a small but striking bird species found across sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal and Gambia in the west to Ethiopia and Tanzania in the east. As its name suggests, the male African Masked Weaver is known for its bright yellow mask-like feathers on its head during breeding season.
Male African Masked Weavers are also known for their elaborate nest-building skills, which involve weaving intricately constructed nests from grass and other materials. These nests are suspended from the ends of branches, and their unique construction allows them to sway in the wind without being blown away.
During breeding season, male African Masked Weavers engage in competitive displays to attract females to their nests. They fluff up their yellow mask feathers and perform acrobatic aerial displays while singing to impress potential mates. Female African Masked Weavers are attracted to males with the best nests and displays, and will choose a mate based on the quality of their construction skills.
The African Masked Weaver’s bright colors and unique nesting habits make it a popular bird among birdwatchers and bird enthusiasts. They are also important pollinators and seed dispersers in their native habitats, helping to maintain the delicate balance of African ecosystems.
The Collared Sunbird is a small, brightly colored bird species found in sub-Saharan Africa, from Angola and Tanzania to South Africa. Known for its distinctive coloring, the male Collared Sunbird has a bright metallic green head and throat, a black collar around its neck, and a bright yellow breast.
Collared Sunbirds are primarily nectar feeders, using their long, curved beaks to extract nectar from flowers. They are important pollinators, transferring pollen from flower to flower as they feed. In addition to nectar, Collared Sunbirds also eat insects, which they catch while hovering in mid-air.
During breeding season, male Collared Sunbirds perform courtship displays to attract females. They perch in prominent locations and sing complex songs while displaying their brightly colored plumage. Female Collared Sunbirds are attracted to males with the most vibrant coloring and the most impressive displays.
The Collared Sunbird’s beauty and importance as a pollinator make it a popular bird among birdwatchers and photographers. They are also an important part of African ecosystems, contributing to the pollination of plants and helping to maintain the delicate balance of the continent’s diverse habitats.
African Fish Eagle
The African Fish Eagle is a majestic bird of prey found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, ranging from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Ethiopia and South Africa in the east. With a distinctive brown body, white head, and sharp yellow beak, the African Fish Eagle is one of the most recognizable birds in Africa.
The bird’s name comes from its hunting habits, as it primarily feeds on fish caught from rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. African Fish Eagles are known for their impressive aerial acrobatics, with the ability to swoop down and grab fish from the water’s surface in mid-flight.
In addition to fish, African Fish Eagles also hunt other small animals, such as reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals. They are highly territorial birds, with males and females working together to defend their nest and breeding area from intruders.
The African Fish Eagle holds a prominent place in African culture and is considered a symbol of power and freedom. It has been featured on numerous national emblems and flags throughout the continent, including in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Sudan. The African Fish Eagle’s beauty and strength make it a beloved bird among locals and tourists alike
The Crowned Plover, also known as the Crowned Lapwing, is a medium-sized bird species found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal and Mauritania to Ethiopia and South Africa. With its striking black and white plumage and distinctive orange-red beak and eye ring, the Crowned Plover is a recognizable and iconic bird of the African savannah.
Crowned Plovers are ground-nesting birds, laying their eggs in shallow depressions on the ground. They are known for their aggressive defense of their nests, with both males and females working together to chase away potential predators, including humans and larger animals.
In addition to their defensive behavior, Crowned Plovers are also known for their distinctive calls, which are often heard throughout the African savannah. Their loud, ringing calls are used to mark their territory and communicate with other members of their flock.
Crowned Plovers are an important part of African ecosystems, helping to maintain the delicate balance of the savannah through their role as insect predators and seed dispersers. They are also an important cultural symbol in many African societies, with their image appearing on everything from local currency to national emblems.
Eurasian Golden Oriole
The Eurasian Golden Oriole is a brightly colored bird species found throughout Europe and Asia, from Spain and Portugal in the west to China and Japan in the east. With its striking golden-yellow plumage, black wings and tail, and distinctive black eye mask, the Eurasian Golden Oriole is a beloved bird among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.
Eurasian Golden Orioles are known for their melodious and flute-like song, which can be heard throughout their range during the breeding season. They are primarily insectivores, feeding on a variety of insects, including beetles, caterpillars, and grasshoppers. They also eat fruit, particularly during migration when insects are scarce.
During breeding season, male Eurasian Golden Orioles perform elaborate courtship displays to attract females. They perch in prominent locations and sing complex songs while displaying their brightly colored plumage. Female Eurasian Golden Orioles are attracted to males with the most vibrant coloring and the most impressive displays.
Despite their striking beauty and melodious song, Eurasian Golden Orioles are a secretive and elusive bird species, often staying hidden among the branches of trees and bushes. They are an important part of the ecosystems in which they live, contributing to the pollination of plants and the control of insect populations.
The Great Cormorant is a widespread bird species, found across the world, including Africa. It is commonly sighted in various aquatic environments, ranging from rivers and lakes to wetlands. Often perched on protruding rocks or tree branches, the Great Cormorant is a frequent sight for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.
The Flamingo is a distinctive and recognizable bird species known for its bright pink plumage, long neck, and spindly legs. There are six species of flamingos found throughout the world, with the most well-known being the Greater Flamingo, found in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
Flamingos are wading birds that feed on algae and small crustaceans found in shallow water bodies such as lakes, lagoons, and salt pans. Their unique beaks are specially adapted to filter out small organisms from the water, and their long legs allow them to wade in deep waters with ease.
Flamingos are known for their distinctive group behavior, with large flocks of hundreds or even thousands of individuals gathering to feed, breed, and roost. Their synchronized feeding and movement patterns are a mesmerizing sight to behold.
During the breeding season, Flamingos engage in elaborate courtship displays, which can include synchronized group movements, synchronized vocalizations, and the building of nests using mud and sticks. Female Flamingos lay a single egg, which both parents incubate for around a month.
Flamingos are an important part of the ecosystems in which they live, contributing to the control of algae and crustacean populations, and providing food for predators such as eagles and hyenas. They are also a beloved bird among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts, with their distinctive pink plumage and unique behavior making them a favorite subject for photography and study.
Grey Crowned Crane
The Grey Crowned Crane, adorned with long white, black, gold, and brown feathers, and a distinctive golden crown on its head, is the national bird of Uganda. Known for their deep booming call, Grey Crowned Cranes have a bright red pouch on their neck which expands during their vocalizations.
Like other crane species, Grey Crowned Cranes perform a unique form of dancing, primarily as a part of their mating ritual. Their captivating dance routine includes head pumping, bowing, jumping, running, wing flapping, and tossing sticks and grass. Witnessing their graceful and flamboyant display is truly a magnificent experience for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.
Grey Go-Away Birds
The Grey Go-away Bird is widely distributed across Southern and Central Africa, inhabiting various habitats ranging from dry to moist savannas and woodlands. They are particularly found in areas where acacia trees are present. These birds are known for their loud, nasal calls, which sound like “kweh” or “go-way”, making their presence easily noticeable in the environment.
Guinea Fowl are commonly found in the savannas and grasslands of Africa, distinguished by their bright blue head and neck, and hanging red wattle. Although they have the ability to fly and glide short distances, they are primarily terrestrial birds, preferring to run rather than fly when alarmed.
These birds are known for their behavior of scratching around in loose soil, similar to chickens, in search of food such as seeds, fruits, greens, snails, spiders, worms, and insects. Additionally, they have strong claws that allow them to capture larger prey, including frogs and toads, lizards, small snakes, and small mammals.
The Hooded Vulture is a scruffy-looking vulture species that is commonly found in sub-Saharan Africa, with a maximum height of 80 cm. These birds are distributed across open grasslands, forest edges, wooded savannas, and the African deserts. As scavengers, they primarily feed on carcasses of dead animals and waste around human habitation, including waste tips and abattoirs, like other vultures.
Hooded Vultures are monogamous birds that mate for life during the mating season. They rear their young together as a team, with both males and females taking equal responsibility for their offspring.
The Kori Bustard is the largest flying bird native to Africa and is known for its striking appearance. It is found in savannas and grasslands throughout eastern and southern Africa. These birds have a unique mating behavior, where the male inflates a sac in his throat and creates a low booming sound that can be heard from great distances.
Kori Bustards are omnivores, feeding on a variety of foods, including insects, small mammals, reptiles, and plants. They are typically solitary birds, but can be found in small groups during the breeding season. Despite their large size and impressive appearance, Kori Bustards are vulnerable to habitat loss and hunting, and their populations have been declining in recent years.
List of Birds of Africa
- African Fish Eagle
- African Masked Weaver
- Collared Sunbird
- Crowned Plover
- Eurasian Golden Oriole
- Grey Go-Away Bird
- Grey Crowned Crane
- Guinea Fowl
- Hooded Vulture
- Kori Bustard
- Lappet-Faced Vulture
- Lilac-Breasted Roller
- Marabou Stork
- Pel’s Fishing Owl
- Secretary Bird
- Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbill
- Superb Starling
- White-Backed Vulture.
Most Common African Birds
Some of the most common birds in Africa include:
- African Fish Eagle
- African Grey Parrot
- Black Kite
- Cape Turtle Dove
- Crowned Plover
- European Bee-eater
- Hadada Ibis
- Helmeted Guineafowl
- Lilac-Breasted Roller
- Pied Crow
- Red-billed Hornbill
- Sacred Ibis
- Southern Red Bishop
- Superb Starling
- Village Weaver.