A handful of the most unique South African birds
South Africa lists over 800 species of birdlife – including some pretty unique ones like the Ostrich and the Stonechat. For birding enthusiasts, the bird population is vast and impressive.
Before we introduce them, though – what makes a bird truly unique and special? – Why should some be named above all the other species? Well, as one South African birding specialist put it – “A unique bird is not always the biggest, the fastest, the flashiest or the most pervasive. No, it is something more than that. An icon is something that captures the spirit of a time or the essence of a place. It’s different for everyone.”
Suffice to say these are not the most well-known, but for our money, just a handful of the most unique South African birds…
The Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus)
We like to start with the best, and this is the ”Big daddy’ of them all. The Martial Eagle is South Africa’s largest raptor, with an impressive wingspan of almost 2.6 meters. It is a powerful bird that can lift prey of up to 8kg. It is a true predator that can spot its prey from over 5km away. It is not an uncommon bird, but not commonly seen either.
The Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus)
This ‘Pretty Polly’ is a true South African, endemic to this country. It, in fact, inhabits South Africa’s national tree, the Yellowwood, feeding on its fruit and nesting in its branches. Sadly it is becoming endangered as the Yellowwood habitat has shrunk, simultaneously affecting the population of the Cape Parrot!
Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres)
Contrary to their name these Vultures are not prominent in the Cape, but most commonly found in the mountainous region of the Drakensburg Mountains in Kwa Zulu Natal. It is also endemic to South Africa and in fact Southern Africa’s only endemic vulture species. These guys have an impressive lifespan of up to 30 years but are also now severely endangered. An interesting fact is that despite colony living, they only have one mating partner.
Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpent Arius)
Humorous to look at with his black legs resembling long trousers and his quill pens tucked behind his ears, the famous Secretarybird is a veld dweller and found all over South Africa. They stand at the impressive height of over 4ft and hunts snakes and other reptiles. They are mostly found in the Kruger National Park and other similar veld environments.
Southern Red Bishop (Euplectes orix)
This is the smallest of our handsome handful. Cute and colourful, this black and bright red Weaver is most commonly seen where there is water, so it is found all over South Africa except for the Kalahari. They melt many a heart with their chirpy demeanour, but break hearts too, being polygamous males with little harems of up to 7 females!
Birding safaris and many more
Safari Odyssey is a preferred tour operator in the Southern Africa region, and birding safaris are just one of the many we have on offer. Our flexibility allows us to offer tailor-made vacations that can combine bird watching with game viewing safaris, or guided tours to any of the renowned tourist destinations in this unforgettable area.
You need only surf our website to learn of the many destinations and Southern African safari experiences we have to offer, always including some hot specials, so it is advisable to book as they come up. Contact us to begin to experience what real personalized attention and the competent organization of any dream vacation feels like!