10 Bird Families of South Africa

10 Bird Families of South Africa

Dec 12, 2014|BirdingWhere we travel| by administrator

Birds may not be the first wildlife that most people think of when they hear 'South Africa,' but with more than 850 avian species there alone, the vibrant country is home to more than just Simba and his friends from the "The Lion King." These creatures differ from the tropical birds of the Amazon Rainforest, but their dazzling colors and poise will treat you nonetheless. Here is a list of 10 bird species you might see during a visit to South Africa.

1. Cranes: There may only be three species of cranes throughout the country and entire southern region of Africa, but these birds deserve a spot on this list for their elegant stature, tendency to congregate in a flock and complex, vocal dancing displays. The Blue Crane is also the country's official bird.


2. Flycatchers: There are 14 species of these small, flat-billed birds. There is more variety in behavior among the species in this bird family.


3. Ducks: The occurring 20 species of these birds, including swans and geese, dwell in freshwater areas nest on the ground or in tree holes. The introduced Mute Swan is nearly extinct in the wild, but this particular waterfowl can be regularly seen in the region.


4. Thrushes: With 43 occurring species in the southern region of Africa, 19 of which are endemic, thrushes have the most species variety representation throughout the south, extending beyond the border. In this country specifically, there are 10 species, one of which is endemic. They tend to be shy and prefer to be undisturbed.


5. Larks: The majority of these 28 species of birds found in South Africa, seven of which are endemic, can be found in dry, open areas where they build nests on the ground.


6. Sunbirds: The males of this bird family are easy to identify with their exuberant colors, but the females do not have as much variety. There are 17 species total and one endemic species of this bird family that enjoys perching on flowers for nectar.


7. Weavers: These small, thick-billed birds build intricate nests and, during breeding time, are easily identified. There are 16 occurring species, including one endemic species,  that forage over wide areas for grains and grass-seeds.


8. Finches: Where these birds lack in size, they make up in colored variety. The five occurring species feed on seeds and insects, and they're distinguished by their buzzy songs.


9. Francolins: These birds, as well as their cousins, are medium-sized gamebirds that have distinct calls, easily identifiable features and short flights. There are 11 species in the country, two of which are endemic.


10. Swallows: There are 12 species of swallows that can be found perched on wires or reeds. Some nest in holes in riverbanks while others build their nests on manmade structures.  


If you want to know more, here's some other common birds you'd likely to see in South Africa: Penguins, Flycatchers, Woodpeckers, Tinkerbirds, Kingfishers, Mousebirds, Cuckoos, Swifts,Crakes, Plovers, Vultures, Eagles, Falcons and kestrels, Cormorants, Herons and bitterns, Robins, Cisticolas, Canaries.

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