It is early morning and the birds of South Africa are calling throughout the bush. From the distinctive ‘kuk-cooorr-uk’ of the Cape Turtle Dove, the raucous chattering of flocks of Babblers to the distinctive call of the African Fish Eagle.
The chorus of birdsong is a signature of a morning in Africa. There are over 900 species of birds in the country. These include permanent residents, seasonal residents, and visitors.
Generally, the best time to visit South Africa for birding is in the summer. For me birding has been the best way to fill the gap between big game sightings – so bring your bird book and checklist along! Birding can be a very rewarding and relaxing pastime in the South African bush.
Birds tend to occur in specific habitats that follow the distribution of plant communities or biomes. South Africa has 9 biomes, resulting in an abundant and diverse bird selection and distribution.
There are 179 species that are endemic or near endemic (confined to) South Africa. This unusually high number is due to some of the unique habitat found only in South Africa. Endemic birds of South Africa include the Knysna Turaco, Red Crested Korhaan and the Ground Woodpecker.
Birds of prey have always captivated me on safari with their sheer size and majesty when they fly high above.
Eagles, buzzards, kites, kestrels, owls and vultures fall into this category.
Africa’s largest eagle – the Martial Eagle – can be found throughout South Africa.
The largest bird in the world is the ostrich. This flightless bird can be found in most parks in South Africa.
The Kori Bustard is the heaviest flying bird but spends most of it’s time on the ground in the open grassland.
There are many water birds in South Africa. It can be very rewarding to sit at a viewing hide in one of South Africa’s national parks with a pair of binoculars and watch the array of waders going about their daily business – and if lucky catch a glimpse of the elusive Night Heron, or have your bird viewing interrupted by a thirsty elephant. This is one of my favourite ways to spend a hot afternoon whilst on a self-drive safari.
The national bird of South Africa is the Blue Crane. This beautiful bird with its distinctive bulbous-shaped head is highly endangered – fortunately there are several breeding programs in South Africa to increase the numbers of these birds. I have seen the Blue Crane in the highlands between Dullstroom and Lydenburg en route to the Kruger national Park on quite a few occasions.
Birding has become very popular around the world. It can be a very rewarding hobby. South Africa is a birder’s paradise – not to be missed by anyone with an interest in birds!
A reason to go on a birders safari-in-South-Africa
South-Africa is a birders paradise we have all the different habitats to support a wide variety of birds, as well as the infrastructure to comfortably accommodate a birders requirements. Some good birding spots are the Kruger National Park, St Lucia wetland park ( a world heritage site ) and Pilanesberg National Park.
So come to South-Africa and add a couple of ticks to your life list of birds with very comfortable accommodations and plenty of birds in beautiful habitats.
P.S. Don’t forget your bino’s.