Birds of South Africa

When it comes to a true South African Safari, the variety is unrivalled. Birdlife in South Africa is of a diverse nature, from raptors to vagrants to endemic birds, they are all worth looking for and watching.

African Fish Eagle

This is a large species of eagle found wherever large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply occur.

The adult is very distinctive in appearance with a mostly brown body with a white head like the bald eagle and large, powerful, black wings. The head, breast, and tail of African fish eagles are snow white, with the exception of the featherless face, which is yellow. The eyes are dark brown in colour.

Bateleur Eagle

Bateleur in French for "tightrope-walker", this aptly describes its distinctive, erratic and unstable manner of flying; the rocking flight motion very much mimics the side-to-side movement of a tight rope walker maintaining his balance. The species also demonstrates some spectacular aerial displays, particularly during courtship.

The Bateleur Eagle is spectacularly beautiful, with glossy black feathers, a red face and legs, and a black beak.

Kori Bustard

The Kori Bustard s an omnivore and one of the heaviest birds on the African continent. In fact, some birds have been found to weigh almost 20 kilograms. The kori bustard is the largest flying bird native to Africa.

Because they are so heavy, Kori Bustards opt for walking; flying only when it is absolutely necessary.

Lappet-faced Vulture

The Lappet-faced Vulture is strong and powerful, dominating other birds of prey and even predators like jackals.

The Lappet-faced Vulture also has a powerful beak, able to tear through tough carcasses and break bones. This makes it easier for the smaller scavengers to feed off the carcass once the Lappet-faced Vulture has finished breaking it up into more manageable pieces.

Lilac Breasted Roller

Rollers, in general, owe their common name to their mating display, which consists of a lot of dives and swoops accompanied by loud and harsh cries. During a mating flight, a lilac-breasted roller will fly upwards for about ten meters (33 feet) and then swoop down with wings closed. In another aerial stunt, the lilac-breasted roller will roll from side to side while flying very fast. If the aerial courtship is successful, the two birds will mate in the air.

Malachite Kingfisher

The flight of the Malachite Kingfisher is rapid, the short rounded wings whirring until they appear a mere blur. It usually flies low over water

The general colour of the upper parts of the adult bird is bright metallic blue. The head has a short crest of black and blue feathers, which gives rise to the scientific name. The face, cheeks and underparts are rufous and there are white patches on the throat and rear neck sides.

Martial Eagle

The largest eagle in Africa, the Martial Eagle spends much of its time in flight.

Usually seen soaring about hill slopes, often at a very great height making it almost invisible to the naked eye. Martial eagles are known for their superior eyesight (3.0–3.6 times human acuity). They are able to spot potential prey from a very great distance.

Pel's Fishing Owl

The Pel's Fishing Owl is also known as the African Fish (or Fishing) Owl.

Because it preys on fish, the Pel's Fishing Owl has a number of adaptations that allow it to be as successful as possible. For example, the legs and toes are left unfeathered so that they do not retain excess water when constantly being dipped into the water to seize prey.

Saddle-billed Stork

The Saddle-billed Stork at five feet tall, the Saddle-billed Stork is the tallest stork in the world, and certainly one of the most strikingly beautiful.

A tall, lanky, black-and-white stork with a unique red, yellow, and black bill. It is a wading bird with black and white plumage and a long, laterally compressed bill. The head, back, neck, wings and tail are black, while the rest of the body and the primary flight feathers are a crisp white.

Secretary Bird

The Secretary Bird is a large bird of prey is named for the crest of long feathers at the back of its head that resemble quill pens that 19th century clerks stuck in their wigs.

Although it can fly, the secretary bird prefers to move around on foot and can cover 30 km a day, earning it the title 'Africa's marching eagle'.

Southern Ground Hornbill

The The Ground Hornbill is the largest hornbill in the world, and is also known as the Ground Hornbill and the African Ground Hornbill.

It is striking for its black plumage and the deep-red skin on its face and neck, which create an intense colour scheme that is quite irresistible to avid birdwatchers and nature-lovers alike.

Yellow-billed Hornbill

The Yellow-billed Hornbill is common and widespread in South Africa particularly in the Kruger National Park and surrounding reserves. It can also be seen at the Timbavati Game Reserve, Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Klaserie Game Reserve, and Manyeleti Game Reserve.

The Yellow-billed Hornbill has been made famous by the movie The Lion King, where it is used as a character named Zazu.

The African Penguin

Also known as the black-footed penguin is only found along the south-western coast of Africa.The African penguin is one of only seventeen penguin species worldwide.

To see them most people visiting our shores head to one of two mainland colonies where we are tolerated by the penguins enough to walk or even swim in amongst them at Boulders Beach in Simon's Town and Stony Point in Betty's Bay.