Undoubtedly Africa’s most striking symbol, and Zambia’s national emblem. The fish-eagle is unmistakable with its white head and breast, chestnut belly and forewings, black under-wings and white tail. Sex alike but female is generally larger.
Voice: Loud, piercing, cheerful yelp. ‘Kyow-kow-kow’ type.
Habitat: Aquatic: rivers, lakes and dams. Feeds on fish.
Range: Sub-Saharan Africa.
Not the most intelligent of creatures , but rather pretty and intriguing nonetheless! Both sexes have a casque on the head, but the male’s “helmet” is longer.
Voice: ‘krrdii-krrdii-krrdii-krrdii’. Impressive, huh? Who would’ve thought in the first place that I, Africafreak, could speak guineafowl language?!
Habitat: All types of open and wooded grasslands + coastal forests.
Range: Most of Sub-Saharan Africa, except in rainforests and the Somali region.
Grey (Southern) Crowned Crane
Highly characteristic with its stunning bristly crown!
Voice: Trumpeting ‘may hem’ flight call (not to be confused with the Norwegian black metal band lol).
Habitat: Grasslands, flooded plains, marshes and agricultural land.
Range: Most of Eastern and Southern Africa.
A stunningly exquisite bird that you are most likely to encounter during a game drive. “Rolls” in display and explodes in a myriad of colours when giving chase.
Voice: A loud guttural rak-rak sound.
Habitat: Grasslands and wooded acacia savannas. Perches conspicuously, and is habitually found on termite mounds or telephone wires from where it scans the ground for large insects.
Range: The bird’s range coincides with the great wildlife corridors of Eastern and Southern Africa.
The African savanna’s turkey!
Female is distinguished from male thanks to its blue throat patch .
Voice: A loud, booming duet ‘ooomph-ooomph’, given on early mornings.
Habitat: Savanna, woodlands and grasslands.
Range: Central Kenya and Southern Congo, south to Central Botswana and Eastern South Africa.
One of the only African bird species with a “punk-like” crest , and a long decurved bill! Has an impressive fly, like a giant butterfly with pied wings!
Call: A frequently uttered ‘hoop-hoop-hoop’.
Habitat: Wooded savannas, open parklands and suburbs. Used to have a few of them in our garden in Johannesburg. Very funny little birds that walk at a very fast pace, probing the soil with their extended bill!
Range: Found throughout Africa.
The world’s largest and heaviest bird, and the only one with just two toes! Flightless. Males are black with white wings while females are a dull brown, with “dirty” white wings. Sorry ladies, but in the animal kingdom males are usually more attractive than females! For once we can be proud of ourselves lol…
Call: Usually heard at night or when displaying; a loud booming call, ‘boo-boo-booo-hooo’ (sounds like a cry when you write it down ). Believe it or not, but the noise itself is very similar to the roar of a lion. Scaaary! Ostriches can also whistle!
Habitat: Open semi-arid plains and woodlands.
Range: Southern edge of the Sahara and Sahel, and through much of East Africa. Southern race also widespread, especially in farming areas where they are raised for their eggs, feathers, meat and skin.
Did you know? A single ostrich egg can provide an omelet for at least 10 people (or 12 moderate eaters)! Yummy!
An enormous, “ugly” bird. A true scavenger that cleans out carcasses in search for bits and peaces of meat! Is frequently associated with vultures.
Call: Primarily silent, but can clap its beak during display.
Habitat: Mainly savannas and plains in the wild. Also becoming present in towns: around dumps, fish markets or abattoirs.
Range: From Senegal to Natal (South Africa); avoids rainforests and deserts.
(African) White-Backed Vulture
Africa’s most widespread large vulture, and known as THE “garbage man” of the African Savannah! Often confused with the Cape vulture, but is smaller in size and has a dark eye (the Cape vulture’s eyes have a honey-colour).
Call: Grunts and goose-like hisses and cackles.
Habitat: Open plains and wooded country where game is abundant.
Range: West Africa, Kenya, Tanzania & throughout Southern Africa.
The appointed beautician of the African bushveld!
Medium-size bird very similar to the yellow-billed oxpecker , but with an all-red bill. Commonly mixed with large mammals (buffalo, rhino, hippo…), as it removes unwanted parasites such as ticks and flies from the host’s body. In fact, the oxpecker will clean the animal’s body thoroughly, even parts such as ears and nostrils. Quite a spectacle to watch!
Call: A scolding ‘churrrr’ and a hissing ‘zzzzzzist’.
Habitat: Savanna, in close proximity to cattle and game.
Range: Eritrea south through Eastern Africa to Eastern South Africa.