An endless array of birds is found throughout Africa and making a list of the top 10 to watch on safari is fairly futile. So think of this guide as a mere introduction to the many winged-creatures that roam the earth, skies and waters of Africa.

1. Bateleur

Where do they live? Sub-Saharan Africa (as well as the Arabian Peninsula) in woodland and savanna.
What do they eat? Rodents; birds such as pigeons, doves and hornbills; lizards; fish; insects and frogs.
How long do they live? 25 years

2. Knysna Loerie

Where do they live? Mostly South Africa, but sometimes they are found in Swaziland and Mozambique too, in evergreen or riverine forests.
What do they eat? Fruits, berries, seeds, leaves, insects and earthworms.
How long do they live? Uncertain in the wild, but up to 30 years in captivity.

3. Cape Parrot

Where do they live? Endemic to South Africa.
What do they eat? Afrocarpus and Podocarpus yellowwood fruits
How long do they live? 40 to 60 years

4. Cape Sugarbird

Where do they live? Endemic to South Africa.
What do they eat? Primarily feeds on nectar from protea species, but will also eat the nectar of other plants, as well as insects such as aphids, grasshoppers, beetles and flies.
How long do they live? 7 years

5. Saddle-billed Stork

Where do they live? Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Gambia, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Chad.
What do they eat? Fish, frogs, crabs, small birds and reptiles.
How long do they live? 36 years

6. Kingfisher

Where do they live? Throughout the world’s tropic and temperate regions, but are absent from the polar regions and some of the driest deserts.
What do they eat? Famous for hunting and eating fish, but they also eat crustaceans, frogs and other amphibians, annelid worms, molluscs, insects, spiders, centipedes, reptiles, birds and mammals. Individual species specialise in certain items, and with large global distributions different populations have different diets.
How long do they live? 5 to 7 years

7. African Fish Eagle

Where do they live? Common near freshwater lakes, reservoirs and rivers; and at times near the coast or at the mouths of rivers or lagoons. Indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa, they can be found in South Africa, the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Tanzania, Mozambique and Lake Malawi in Malawi.
What do they eat? Mainly fish, but they will also eat ducks, small turtles, terrapins, baby crocodiles, flamingos, Nile monitors, frogs and carrion and, on occasion, mammals such as hyraxes and monkeys.
How long do they live? 12 to 24 years

8. Cape Vulture

Where do they live? Endemic to southern Africa, and found mainly in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana and parts of northern Namibia.
What do they eat? As a scavenger it feeds on carrion, including bone fragments, soft muscles and organ tissue around the carcass.
How long do they live? 25 years

9. Ostrich

Where do they live? African savannahs and deserts
What do they eat? They are omnivores with a vast diet consisting mostly of plants, along with insects and small animals like lizards.
How long do they live? 40 – 45 years

10. African Penguin

Where do they live? Southern African waters
What do they eat? Forage in the open sea, eating pelagic fish such as pilchards and anchovies, as well as marine invertebrates like squid and small crustaceans.
How long do they live? 10 to 27 years

Bird Words

Birder – a person who actively looks for, studies and records birds
Birding ¬ the observation of birds as a recreational activity, also known as bird-watching
Mega – a very rare bird
Ornithology – the study of birds
Twitcher – a person who travels long distances to see a rare bird, and then ticks it off a list

More on Birds of Africa

Biggest Bird in Africa: Ostrich
Smallest Bird in Africa: Cape penduline tit
Flightless birds in Africa: Ostriches and penguins

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