List of birds of Benin
This is a list of the bird species recorded in Benin. The avifauna of Benin include a total of 592 species, of which two are rare or accidental.
This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 6th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Accidental species are included in the total species count for Benin.
The following tag has been used to highlight accidentals. The commonly occurring native species are untagged.
- (A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in Benin
Grebes are small to medium-large freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land. There are 20 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Benin.
- Little grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis
Shearwaters and petrels
The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterised by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary.
- Sooty shearwater, Ardenna griseus
The storm petrels are relatives of the petrels and are the smallest seabirds. They feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like.
- Wilson's storm petrel, Oceanites oceanicus
Boobies and gannets
Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium to large coastal, fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies, with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black-and-white and a few being colourful.
- Long-tailed cormorant, Microcarbo africanus
Darters are often called "snake-birds" because of their long thin neck, which gives a snake-like appearance when they swim with their bodies submerged. The males have black and dark-brown plumage, an erectile crest on the nape and a larger bill than the female. The females have much paler plumage especially on the neck and underparts. The darters have completely webbed feet and their legs are short and set far back on the body. Their plumage is somewhat permeable, like that of cormorants, and they spread their wings to dry after diving.
- African darter, Anhinga rufa
Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under their beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes.
Bitterns, herons and egrets
The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted, unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills.
- Grey heron, Ardea cinerea
- Black-headed heron, Ardea melanocephala
- Goliath heron, Ardea goliath
- Purple heron, Ardea purpurea
- Great egret, Ardea alba
- Black heron, Egretta ardesiaca
- Intermediate egret, Egretta intermedia
- Western reef heron, Egretta gularis
- Little egret, Egretta garzetta
- Squacco heron, Ardeola ralloides
- Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis
- Striated heron, Butorides striata
- Black-crowned night heron, Nycticorax nycticorax
- White-backed night heron, Gorsachius leuconotus
- White-crested bittern, Tigriornis leucolophus
- Dwarf bittern, Ixobrychus sturmii
- Great bittern, Botaurus stellaris
The hammerkop is a medium-sized bird with a long shaggy crest. The shape of its head with a curved bill and crest at the back is reminiscent of a hammer, hence its name. Its plumage is drab-brown all over.
- Hamerkop, Scopus umbretta
Ibises and spoonbills
Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary feathers. They are strong fliers and despite their size and weight, very capable soarers.
- Sacred ibis, Threskiornis aethiopicus
- Hadada ibis, Bostrychia hagedash
- Glossy ibis, Plegadis falcinellus
- African spoonbill, Platalea alba
Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked, wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks are mute, but bill-clattering is an important mode of communication at the nest. Their nests can be large and may be reused for many years. Many species are migratory. There are 8 species which occur in Benin.
- Yellow-billed stork, Mycteria ibis
- African openbill, Anastomus lamelligerus
- Black stork, Ciconia nigra
- Abdim's stork, Ciconia abdimii
- Woolly-necked stork, Ciconia episcopus
- White stork, Ciconia ciconia
- Saddle-billed stork, Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis
- Marabou stork, Leptoptilos crumenifer
Flamingos are gregarious wading birds, usually 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 m) tall, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume and, uniquely, are used upside-down. There are 6 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Benin.
- Lesser flamingo, Phoenicopterus minor
Ducks, geese and swans
Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These birds are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating.
- Fulvous whistling duck, Dendrocygna bicolor
- White-faced whistling duck, Dendrocygna viduata
- White-backed duck, Thalassornis leuconotus
- Egyptian goose, Alopochen aegyptiacus
- Spur-winged goose, Plectropterus gambensis
- Knob-billed duck, Sarkidiornis melanotos
- Hartlaub's duck, Pteronetta hartlaubii
- African pygmy goose, Nettapus auritus
- Eurasian wigeon, Anas penelope
- Eurasian teal, Anas crecca
- Northern pintail, Anas acuta
- Garganey, Anas querquedula
- Northern shoveler, Anas clypeata
- Ferruginous pochard, Aythya nyroca
The Pandionidae family contains only one species, the osprey. The osprey is a medium-large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.
- Osprey, Pandion haliaetus
Hawks, kites and eagles
Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey, which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons and keen eyesight.
- African cuckoo-hawk, Aviceda cuculoides
- European honey buzzard, Pernis apivorus
- Bat hawk, Macheiramphus alcinus
- Black-shouldered kite, Elanus caeruleus
- Scissor-tailed kite, Chelictinia riocourii
- Black kite, Milvus migrans
- Yellow-billed kite, Milvus aegyptius
- African fish eagle, Haliaeetus vocifer
- Palm-nut vulture, Gypohierax angolensis
- Hooded vulture, Necrosyrtes monachus
- White-backed vulture, Gyps africanus
- Rüppell's vulture, Gyps rueppelli
- Lappet-faced vulture, Torgos tracheliotos
- White-headed vulture, Trigonoceps occipitalis
- Beaudouin's snake eagle, Circaetus beaudouini
- Brown snake eagle, Circaetus cinereus
- Banded snake eagle, Circaetus cinerascens
- Bateleur, Terathopius ecaudatus
- Western marsh harrier, Circus aeruginosus
- Pallid harrier, Circus macrourus
- Montagu's harrier, Circus pygargus
- African harrier-hawk, Polyboroides typus
- Lizard buzzard, Kaupifalco monogrammicus
- Dark chanting goshawk, Melierax metabates
- Gabar goshawk, Micronisus gabar
- Red-chested goshawk, Accipiter toussenelii
- Shikra, Accipiter badius
- Red-thighed sparrowhawk, Accipiter erythropus
- Ovampo sparrowhawk, Accipiter ovampensis
- Black goshawk, Accipiter melanoleucus
- Grasshopper buzzard, Butastur rufipennis
- Red-necked buzzard, Buteo auguralis
- Tawny eagle, Aquila rapax
- African hawk-eagle, Aquila spilogaster
- Cassin's hawk-eagle, Aquila africana
- Wahlberg's eagle, Hieraaetus wahlbergi
- Booted eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus
- Ayres's hawk-eagle, Hieraaetus ayresii
- Martial eagle, Polemaetus bellicosus
- Long-crested eagle, Lophaetus occipitalis
- Crowned hawk-eagle, Stephanoaetus coronatus
The secretarybird is a bird of prey in the order Falconiformes but is easily distinguished from other raptors by its long crane-like legs.
- Secretarybird, Sagittarius serpentarius
Caracaras and falcons
Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their talons.
- Lesser kestrel, Falco naumanni
- Eurasian kestrel, Falco tinnunculus
- Fox kestrel, Falco alopex
- Grey kestrel, Falco ardosiaceus
- Red-necked falcon, Falco chicquera
- Eurasian hobby, Falco subbuteo
- African hobby, Falco cuvierii
- Lanner falcon, Falco biarmicus
- Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus
Pheasants and francolins
The Phasianidae are a family of terrestrial birds which consists of quails, snowcocks, francolins, spurfowls, tragopans, monals, pheasants, peafowls and jungle fowls. In general, they are plump (although they vary in size) and have broad, relatively short wings.
- White-throated francolin, Peliperdix albogularis
- Ahanta francolin, Pternistis ahantensis
- Double-spurred francolin, Pternistis bicalcaratus
- Blue quail, Excalfactoria adansonii
- Stone partridge, Ptilopachus petrosus
Guineafowl are a group of African, seed-eating, ground-nesting birds that resemble partridges, but with featherless heads and spangled grey plumage.
Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances".
- Black crowned crane, Balearica pavonina
Rails, crakes, gallinules and coots
Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, making them difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs and long toes which are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and to be weak fliers. There are 143 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Benin.
- African crake, Crecopsis egregia
- Black crake, Amaurornis flavirostris
- Baillon's crake, Porzana pusilla
- Allen's gallinule, Porphyrio alleni
- Common moorhen, Gallinula chloropus
- Lesser moorhen, Gallinula angulata
Sungrebe and finfoots
Heliornithidae is a small family of tropical birds with webbed lobes on their feet similar to those of grebes and coots. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Benin.
- African finfoot, Podica senegalensis
Bustards are large terrestrial birds mainly associated with dry open country and steppes in the Old World. They are omnivorous and nest on the ground. They walk steadily on strong legs and big toes, pecking for food as they go. They have long broad wings with "fingered" wingtips and striking patterns in flight. Many have interesting mating displays.
- Denham's bustard, Neotis denhami
- White-bellied bustard, Eupodotis senegalensis
- Black-bellied bustard, Lissotis melanogaster
The buttonquails are small, drab, running birds which resemble the true quails. The female is the brighter of the sexes and initiates courtship. The male incubates the eggs and tends the young.
The jacanas are a group of tropical waders in the family Jacanidae. They are found throughout the tropics. They are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat.
- African jacana, Actophilornis africanus
Painted-snipe are short-legged, long-billed birds similar in shape to the true snipes, but more brightly coloured.
- Greater painted-snipe, Rostratula benghalensis
- Eurasian oystercatcher, Haematopus ostralegus
Avocets and stilts
Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. There are 9 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Benin.
The thick-knees are a group of largely tropical waders in the family Burhinidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone, with some species also breeding in temperate Europe and Australia. They are medium to large waders with strong black or yellow-black bills, large yellow eyes and cryptic plumage. Despite being classed as waders, most species have a preference for arid or semi-arid habitats. There are 9 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Benin.
- Water thick-knee, Burhinus vermiculatus
- Senegal thick-knee, Burhinus senegalensis
- Spotted thick-knee, Burhinus capensis
Pratincoles and coursers
Glareolidae is a family of wading birds comprising the pratincoles, which have short legs, long pointed wings and long forked tails, and the coursers, which have long legs, short wings and long, pointed bills which curve downwards. There are 17 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Benin.
- Egyptian plover, Pluvianus aegyptius
- Temminck's courser, Cursorius temminckii
- Bronze-winged courser, Rhinoptilus chalcopterus
- Collared pratincole, Glareola pratincola
- Rock pratincole, Glareola nuchalis
- Grey pratincole, Glareola cinerea
Plovers and lapwings
The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water. There are 66 species worldwide and 13 species which occur in Benin.
- Spur-winged plover, Vanellus spinosus
- Black-headed lapwing, Vanellus tectus
- White-headed lapwing, Vanellus albiceps
- Senegal lapwing, Vanellus lugubris
- Wattled lapwing, Vanellus senegallus
- Brown-chested lapwing, Vanellus superciliosus
- Black-bellied plover, Pluvialis squatarola
- Common ringed plover, Charadrius hiaticula
- Little ringed plover, Charadrius dubius
- Kittlitz's plover, Charadrius pecuarius
- Forbes's plover, Charadrius forbesi
- White-fronted plover, Charadrius marginatus
- Snowy plover, Charadrius alexandrinus
Sandpipers and allies
Scolopacidae is a large diverse family of small to medium-sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of these species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Variation in length of legs and bills enables multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 22 species which have been recorded in Benin.
- Jack snipe, Lymnocryptes minimus
- Great snipe, Gallinago media
- Common snipe, Gallinago gallinago
- Black-tailed godwit, Limosa limosa
- Bar-tailed godwit, Limosa lapponica
- Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus
- Eurasian curlew, Numenius arquata
- Spotted redshank, Tringa erythropus
- Common redshank, Tringa totanus
- Marsh sandpiper, Tringa stagnatilis
- Common greenshank, Tringa nebularia
- Green sandpiper, Tringa ochropus
- Wood sandpiper, Tringa glareola
- Common sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos
- Ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres
- Red knot, Calidris canutus
- Sanderling, Calidris alba
- Little stint, Calidris minuta
- Temminck's stint, Calidris temminckii (A)
- Curlew sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea
- Dunlin, Calidris alpina (A)
- Ruff, Calidris pugnax
Skuas and jaegers
The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long-distance migrants. There are 7 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Benin.
Gulls, terns, and skimmers
Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds, the gulls, terns, and skimmers. Gulls are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. Terns are a group of generally medium to large seabirds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species known to live in excess of 30 years. Skimmers are a small family of tropical tern-like birds. They have an elongated lower mandible which they use to feed by flying low over the water surface and skimming the water for small fish.
- Lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus
- Grey-headed gull, Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus
- Black-headed gull, Chroicocephalus ridibundus
- Gull-billed tern, Gelochelidon nilotica
- Caspian tern, Hydroprogne caspia
- Sandwich tern, Thalasseus sandvicensis
- Royal tern, Thalasseus maximus
- Roseate tern, Sterna dougallii
- Common tern, Sterna hirundo
- Arctic tern, Sterna paradisaea
- Little tern, Sternula albifrons
- Damara tern, Sternula balaenarum
- Sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscatus
- Whiskered tern, Chlidonias hybrida
- White-winged tern, Chlidonias leucopterus
- Black tern, Chlidonias niger
- Brown noddy, Anous stolidus
- African skimmer, Rynchops flavirostris
Sandgrouse have small, pigeon like heads and necks, but sturdy compact bodies. They have long pointed wings and sometimes tails and a fast direct flight. Flocks fly to watering holes at dawn and dusk. Their legs are feathered down to the toes. There are 16 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Benin.
- Four-banded sandgrouse, Pterocles quadricinctus
Pigeons and doves
- Speckled pigeon, Columba guinea
- Western bronze-naped pigeon, Columba iriditorques
- African collared dove, Streptopelia roseogrisea
- Mourning collared dove, Streptopelia decipiens
- Red-eyed dove, Streptopelia semitorquata
- Vinaceous dove, Streptopelia vinacea
- Laughing dove, Spilopelia senegalensis
- Black-billed wood dove, Turtur abyssinicus
- Blue-spotted wood dove, Turtur afer
- Tambourine dove, Turtur tympanistria
- Namaqua dove, Oena capensis
- Bruce's green pigeon, Treron waalia
- African green pigeon, Treron calva
Old World parrots
African and New World parrots
The turacos, plantain eaters and go-away-birds make up the bird family Musophagidae. They are medium-sized arboreal birds. The turacos and plantain eaters are brightly coloured, usually in blue, green or purple. The go-away birds are mostly grey and white. There are 23 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Benin.
- Great blue turaco, Corythaeola cristata
- Guinea turaco, Tauraco persa
- Violet turaco, Musophaga violacea
- Western plantain-eater, Crinifer piscator
Cuckoos and anis
The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. The Old World cuckoos are brood parasites. There are 138 species worldwide and 14 species which occur in Benin.
- Pied cuckoo, Clamator jacobinus
- Levaillant's cuckoo, Clamator levaillantii
- Great spotted cuckoo, Clamator glandarius
- Red-chested cuckoo, Cuculus solitarius
- Black cuckoo, Cuculus clamosus
- Common cuckoo, Cuculus canorus
- African cuckoo, Cuculus gularis
- Klaas's cuckoo, Chrysococcyx klaas
- African emerald cuckoo, Chrysococcyx cupreus
- Dideric cuckoo, Chrysococcyx caprius
- Blue malkoha, Ceuthmochares aereus
- Black coucal, Centropus grillii
- Blue-headed coucal, Centropus monachus
- Senegal coucal, Centropus senegalensis
Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. There are 16 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Benin.
- Barn owl, Tyto alba
The typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. There are 195 species worldwide and 9 species which occur in Benin.
- African scops owl, Otus senegalensis
- Northern white-faced owl, Ptilopsis leucotis
- Greyish eagle-owl, Bubo cinerascens
- Verreaux's eagle-owl, Bubo lacteus
- Akun eagle-owl, Bubo leucostictus
- Pel's fishing owl, Scotopelia peli
- African wood owl, Strix woodfordii
- Pearl-spotted owlet, Glaucidium perlatum
- Marsh owl, Asio capensis
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds that usually nest on the ground. They have long wings, short legs and very short bills. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves. There are 6 species which have been recorded in Benin.
- Fiery-necked nightjar, Caprimulgus pectoralis
- Swamp nightjar, Caprimulgus natalensis
- Plain nightjar, Caprimulgus inornatus
- Freckled nightjar, Caprimulgus tristigma
- Long-tailed nightjar, Caprimulgus climacurus
- Standard-winged nightjar, Caprimulgus longipennis
Swifts are small birds which spend the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings which resemble a crescent or boomerang. There are 98 species worldwide and 7 species which occur in Benin.
- Mottled spinetail, Telacanthura ussheri
- African palm swift, Cypsiurus parvus
- Alpine swift, Tachymarptis melba
- Common swift, Apus apus
- Pallid swift, Apus pallidus
- Little swift, Apus affinis
- White-rumped swift, Apus caffer
The mousebirds are slender greyish or brown birds with soft, hairlike body feathers and very long thin tails. They are arboreal and scurry through the leaves like rodents in search of berries, fruit and buds. They are acrobatic and can feed upside down. All species have strong claws and reversible outer toes. They also have crests and stubby bills. There are 6 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Benin.
- Blue-naped mousebird, Urocolius macrourus
Trogons and quetzals
The family Trogonidae includes trogons and quetzals. Found in tropical woodlands worldwide, they feed on insects and fruit, and their broad bills and weak legs reflect their diet and arboreal habits. Although their flight is fast, they are reluctant to fly any distance. Trogons have soft, often colourful, feathers with distinctive male and female plumage. There are 33 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Benin.
- Narina trogon, Apaloderma narina
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails. There are 93 species worldwide and 9 species which occur in Benin.
- Shining-blue kingfisher, Alcedo quadribrachys
- Malachite kingfisher, Corythornis cristatus
- African pygmy kingfisher, Ispidina picta
- Grey-headed kingfisher, Halcyon leucocephala
- Woodland kingfisher, Halcyon senegalensis
- Blue-breasted kingfisher, Halcyon malimbica
- Striped kingfisher, Halcyon chelicuti
- Giant kingfisher, Megaceryle maximus
- Pied kingfisher, Ceryle rudis
The bee-eaters are a group of near passerine birds in the family Meropidae. Most species are found in Africa but others occur in southern Europe, Madagascar, Australia and New Guinea. They are characterised by richly coloured plumage, slender bodies and usually elongated central tail feathers. All are colourful and have long downturned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar. There are 26 species worldwide and 9 species which occur in Benin.
- Red-throated bee-eater, Merops bulocki
- Little bee-eater, Merops pusillus
- Swallow-tailed bee-eater, Merops hirundineus
- White-throated bee-eater, Merops albicollis
- Green bee-eater, Merops orientalis
- Blue-cheeked bee-eater, Merops persicus
- European bee-eater, Merops apiaster
- Rosy bee-eater, Merops malimbicus
- Northern carmine bee-eater, Merops nubicus
Rollers resemble crows in size and build, but are more closely related to the kingfishers and bee-eaters. They share the colourful appearance of those groups with blues and browns predominating. The two inner front toes are connected, but the outer toe is not. There are 12 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Benin.
- European roller, Coracias garrulus
- Abyssinian roller, Coracias abyssinica
- Rufous-crowned roller, Coracias naevia
- Blue-bellied roller, Coracias cyanogaster
- Broad-billed roller, Eurystomus glaucurus
- Blue-throated roller, Eurystomus gularis
Hoopoes have black, white and orangey-pink colouring with a large erectile crest on their head. There are 2 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Benin.
- Hoopoe, Upupa epops
The woodhoopoes are related to the kingfishers, rollers and hoopoes. They most resemble the hoopoes with their long curved bills, used to probe for insects, and short rounded wings. However, they differ in that they have metallic plumage, often blue, green or purple, and lack an erectile crest. There are 8 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Benin.
- Green woodhoopoe, Phoeniculus purpureus
- White-headed woodhoopoe, Phoeniculus bollei
- Black scimitarbill, Rhinopomastus aterrimus
Hornbills are a group of birds whose bill is shaped like a cow's horn, but without a twist, sometimes with a casque on the upper mandible. Frequently, the bill is brightly coloured. There are 12 species which occur in Benin.
- White-crested hornbill, Horizocerus albocristatus
- Black dwarf hornbill, Horizocerus hartlaubi
- Northern red-billed hornbill, Tockus erythrorhynchus
- Red-billed dwarf hornbill, Lophoceros camurus
- African pied hornbill, Lophoceros fasciatus
- African grey hornbill, Lophoceros nasutus
- Piping hornbill, Bycanistes fistulator
- Black-and-white-casqued hornbill, Bycanistes subcylindricus
- Brown-cheeked hornbill, Bycanistes cylindricus
- White-thighed hornbill, Bycanistes albotibialis
- Yellow-casqued hornbill, Ceratogymna elata
- Abyssinian ground hornbill, Bucorvus abyssinicus
The barbets are plump birds, with short necks and large heads. They get their name from the bristles which fringe their heavy bills. Most species are brightly coloured.
- Naked-faced barbet, Gymnobucco calvus
- Bristle-nosed barbet, Gymnobucco peli
- Speckled tinkerbird, Pogoniulus scolopaceus
- Red-rumped tinkerbird, Pogoniulus atroflavus
- Yellow-throated tinkerbird, Pogoniulus subsulphureus
- Yellow-rumped tinkerbird, Pogoniulus bilineatus
- Yellow-fronted tinkerbird, Pogoniulus chrysoconus
- Hairy-breasted barbet, Tricholaema hirsuta
- Vieillot's barbet, Lybius vieilloti
- Double-toothed barbet, Lybius bidentatus
- Bearded barbet, Lybius dubius
- Yellow-billed barbet, Trachyphonus purpuratus
Honeyguides are among the few birds that feed on wax. They are named for the greater honeyguide which leads traditional honey-hunters to bees' nests and, after the hunters have harvested the honey, feeds on the remaining contents of the hive. There are 17 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Benin.
- Spotted honeyguide, Indicator maculatus
- Greater honeyguide, Indicator indicator
- Lesser honeyguide, Indicator minor
- Thick-billed honeyguide, Indicator conirostris
- Willcock's honeyguide, Indicator willcocksi
- Least honeyguide, Indicator exilis
Woodpeckers and allies
Woodpeckers are small to medium-sized birds with chisel-like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks.
- Eurasian wryneck, Jynx torquilla
- Fine-spotted woodpecker, Campethera punctuligera
- Golden-tailed woodpecker, Campethera abingoni
- Green-backed woodpecker, Campethera cailliautii
- Buff-spotted woodpecker, Campethera nivosa
- Brown-eared woodpecker, Campethera caroli
- Cardinal woodpecker, Dendropicos fuscescens
- African grey woodpecker, Dendropicos goertae
- Brown-backed woodpecker, Dendropicos obsoletus
- Fire-bellied woodpecker, Chloropicus pyrrhogaster
Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. Their food is insects and seeds. There are 91 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Benin.
- Singing bushlark, Mirafra cantillans
- Flappet lark, Mirafra rufocinnamomea
- Rufous-rumped lark, Pinarocorys erythropygia
- Chestnut-backed sparrow-lark, Eremopterix leucotis
- Crested lark, Galerida cristata
- Sun lark, Galerida modesta
Swallows and martins
The family Hirundinidae is adapted to aerial feeding. They have a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and a short bill with a wide gape. The feet are adapted to perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. There are 75 species worldwide and 18 species which occur in Benin.
- Sand martin, Riparia riparia
- Brown-throated martin, Riparia paludicola
- Banded martin, Riparia cincta
- Grey-rumped swallow, Pseudhirundo griseopyga
- Rock martin, Ptyonoprogne fuligula
- Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica
- Red-chested swallow, Hirundo lucida
- Ethiopian swallow, Hirundo aethiopica
- Wire-tailed swallow, Hirundo smithii
- White-throated blue swallow, Hirundo nigrita
- Pied-winged swallow, Hirundo leucosoma
- Lesser striped swallow, Cecropis abyssinica
- Rufous-chested swallow, Cecropis semirufa
- Mosque swallow, Cecropis senegalensis
- Red-rumped swallow, Cecropis daurica
- Preuss's swallow, Petrochelidon preussi
- Common house martin, Delichon urbicum
- Fanti sawwing, Psalidoprocne obscura
Wagtails and pipits
Motacillidae is a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country. There are 54 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Benin.
- African pied wagtail, Motacilla aguimp
- Yellow wagtail, Motacilla flava
- Yellow-throated longclaw, Macronyx croceus
- Plain-backed pipit, Anthus leucophrys
- African pipit, Anthus cinnamomeus
- Tawny pipit, Anthus campestris
- Tree pipit, Anthus trivialis
- Red-throated pipit, Anthus cervinus
The cuckooshrikes are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are predominantly greyish with white and black, although some species are brightly coloured. There are 82 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Benin.
Bulbuls are medium-sized songbirds. Some are colourful with yellow, red or orange vents, cheeks, throats or supercilia, but most are drab, with uniform olive-brown to black plumage. Some species have distinct crests.
- Common bulbul, Pycnonotus barbatus
- Little greenbul, Eurillas virens
- Simple greenbul, Chlorocichla simplex
- Yellow-throated leaflove, Atimastillas flavicollis
- Swamp greenbul, Thescelocichla leucopleura
- Red-tailed leaflove, Phyllastrephus scandens
- White-throated greenbul, Phyllastrephus albigularis
- Grey-headed bristlebill, Bleda canicapilla
- Yellow-spotted nicator, Nicator chloris
Thrushes and allies
The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs.
Cisticolas and allies
The Cisticolidae are warblers found mainly in warmer southern regions of the Old World. They are generally very small birds of drab brown or grey appearance found in open country such as grassland or scrub. There are 111 species worldwide and 19 species which occur in Benin.
- Red-faced cisticola, Cisticola erythrops
- Singing cisticola, Cisticola cantans
- Whistling cisticola, Cisticola lateralis
- Rock-loving cisticola, Cisticola aberrans
- Red-pate cisticola, Cisticola ruficeps
- Winding cisticola, Cisticola galactotes
- Croaking cisticola, Cisticola natalensis
- Siffling cisticola, Cisticola brachypterus
- Rufous cisticola, Cisticola rufus
- Zitting cisticola, Cisticola juncidis
- Black-necked cisticola, Cisticola eximius
- Tawny-flanked prinia, Prinia subflava
- Red-winged prinia, Prinia erythroptera
- Black-capped apalis, Apalis nigriceps
- Yellow-breasted apalis, Apalis flavida
- Oriole warbler, Hypergerus atriceps
- Green-backed camaroptera, Camaroptera brachyura
- Yellow-browed camaroptera, Camaroptera superciliaris
- Olive-green camaroptera, Camaroptera chloronota
- Senegal eremomela, Eremomela pusilla
- Rufous-crowned eremomela, Eremomela badiceps
- Moustached grass warbler, Melocichla mentalis
- Green crombec, Sylvietta virens
- Northern crombec, Sylvietta brachyura
- Kemp's longbill, Macrosphenus kempi
- Grey longbill, Macrosphenus concolor
- Green hylia, Hylia prasina
- Sedge warbler, Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
- Eurasian reed warbler, Acrocephalus scirpaceus
- Great reed warbler, Acrocephalus arundinaceus
- Eastern olivaceous warbler, Iduna pallida
- Melodious warbler, Hippolais polyglotta
- Willow warbler, Phylloscopus trochilus
- Common chiffchaff, Phylloscopus collybita
- Western Bonelli's warbler, Phylloscopus bonelli
- Wood warbler, Phylloscopus sibilatrix
Old World warblers
The family Sylviidae is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. They mainly occur as breeding species, as the common name implies, in Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent, Africa. Most are of generally undistinguished appearance, but many have distinctive songs.
Old World flycatchers
Old World flycatchers are a large group of small passerine birds native to the Old World. They are mainly small arboreal insectivores. The appearance of these birds is highly varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls.
- Common rock thrush, Monticola saxatilis
- Pale flycatcher, Melaenornis pallidus
- Northern black flycatcher, Melaenornis edolioides
- African forest flycatcher, Fraseria ocreata
- White-browed forest flycatcher, Fraseria cinerascens
- Spotted flycatcher, Muscicapa striata
- Gambaga flycatcher, Muscicapa gambagae
- Swamp flycatcher, Muscicapa aquatica
- Dusky-blue flycatcher, Muscicapa comitata
- Tessmann's flycatcher, Muscicapa tessmanni
- Cassin's flycatcher, Muscicapa cassini
- Ashy flycatcher, Muscicapa caerulescens
- Grey tit-flycatcher, Myioparus plumbeus
- European pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca
- Common nightingale, Luscinia megarhynchos
- Bluethroat, Luscinia svecica
- Snowy-crowned robin-chat, Cossypha niveicapilla
- White-crowned robin-chat, Cossypha albicapilla
- Common redstart, Phoenicurus phoenicurus
- Whinchat, Saxicola rubetra
- Northern wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe
- Heuglin's wheatear, Oenanthe heuglini
- Familiar chat, Cercomela familiaris
- White-fronted black chat, Myrmecocichla albifrons
- Mocking cliff chat, Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris
The wattle-eyes, or puffback flycatchers, are small stout passerine birds of the African tropics. They get their name from the brightly coloured fleshy eye decorations found in most species in this group. There are 9 species which have been recorded in Benin.
- African shrike-flycatcher, Megabyas flammulatus
- Black-and-white shrike-flycatcher, Bias musicus
- Brown-throated wattle-eye, Platysteira cyanea
- Chestnut wattle-eye, Platysteira castanea
- West African wattle-eye, Platysteira hormophora
- Red-cheeked wattle-eye, Platysteira blissetti
- Senegal batis, Batis senegalensis
- Fernando Po batis, Batis poensis
- West African batis, Batis occulta
- Chestnut-capped flycatcher, Erythrocercus mccallii
- African blue flycatcher, Elminia longicauda
The monarch flycatchers are small to medium-sized insectivorous passerines which hunt by flycatching.
- Blue-headed crested flycatcher, Trochocercus nitens
- Black-headed paradise flycatcher, Terpsiphone rufiventer
- African paradise flycatcher, Terpsiphone viridis
- Blackcap illadopsis, Illadopsis cleaveri
- Pale-breasted illadopsis, Illadopsis rufipennis
- Brown illadopsis, Illadopsis fulvescens
- Blackcap babbler, Turdoides reinwardtii
- Brown babbler, Turdoides plebejus
- Capuchin babbler, Phyllanthus atripennis
Chickadees and titmice
The Paridae are mainly small stocky woodland species with short stout bills. Some have crests. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects. There are 59 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Benin.
- White-shouldered black tit, Melaniparus guineensis
Treecreepers are small woodland birds, brown above and white below. They have thin pointed down-curved bills, which they use to extricate insects from bark. They have stiff tail feathers, like woodpeckers, which they use to support themselves on vertical trees. There are 6 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Benin.
- Spotted creeper, Salpornis salvadori
The penduline tits are a group of small passerine birds related to the true tits. They are insectivores. There are 13 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Benin.
Sunbirds and spiderhunters
The sunbirds and spiderhunters are very small passerine birds which feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. Flight is fast and direct on their short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed. There are 131 species worldwide and 23 species which occur in Benin.
- Scarlet-tufted sunbird, Deleornis fraseri
- Mouse-brown sunbird, Anthreptes gabonicus
- Western violet-backed sunbird, Anthreptes longuemarei
- Little green sunbird, Anthreptes seimundi
- Green sunbird, Anthreptes rectirostris
- Collared sunbird, Hedydipna collaris
- Pygmy sunbird, Hedydipna platura
- Reichenbach's sunbird, Anabathmis reichenbachii
- Green-headed sunbird, Cyanomitra verticalis
- Blue-throated brown sunbird, Cyanomitra cyanolaema
- Eastern olive sunbird, Cyanomitra olivacea
- Western olive sunbird, Cyanomitra obscura
- Buff-throated sunbird, Chalcomitra adelberti
- Carmelite sunbird, Chalcomitra fuliginosa
- Scarlet-chested sunbird, Chalcomitra senegalensis
- Olive-bellied sunbird, Cinnyris chloropygius
- Tiny sunbird, Cinnyris minullus
- Beautiful sunbird, Cinnyris pulchellus
- Splendid sunbird, Cinnyris coccinigaster
- Johanna's sunbird, Cinnyris johannae
- Superb sunbird, Cinnyris superbus
- Variable sunbird, Cinnyris venustus
- Copper sunbird, Cinnyris cupreus
The white-eyes are small and mostly undistinguished, their plumage above being generally some dull colour like greenish-olive, but some species have a white or bright yellow throat, breast or lower parts, and several have buff flanks. As their name suggests, many species have a white ring around each eye. There are 96 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Benin.
- African yellow white-eye, Zosterops senegalensis
Old World orioles
The Old World orioles are colourful passerine birds. They are not related to the New World orioles. There are 29 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Benin.
- African golden oriole, Oriolus auratus
- Western black-headed oriole, Oriolus brachyrhynchus
- Black-winged oriole, Oriolus nigripennis
Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey. There are 3 species which have been recorded in Benin.
- Northern fiscal, Lanius humeralis
- Woodchat shrike, Lanius senator
- Yellow-billed shrike, Corvinella corvina
Bushshrikes and allies
Bushshrikes are similar in habits to shrikes, hunting insects and other small prey from a perch on a bush. Although similar in build to the shrikes, these tend to be either colourful species or largely black; some species are quite secretive. There are 46 species worldwide and 13 species which occur in Benin.
- Brubru, Nilaus afer
- Northern puffback, Dryoscopus gambensis
- Large-billed puffback, Dryoscopus sabini
- Marsh tchagra, Tchagra minuta
- Black-crowned tchagra, Tchagra senegala
- Brown-crowned tchagra, Tchagra australis
- Tropical boubou, Laniarius major
- Common gonolek, Laniarius barbarus
- Sooty boubou, Laniarius leucorhynchus
- Sulphur-breasted bushshrike, Telophorus sulfureopectus
- Many-coloured bushshrike, Telophorus multicolor
- Fiery-breasted bushshrike, Malaconotus cruentus
- Grey-headed bushshrike, Malaconotus blanchoti
The helmetshrikes are similar in build to the shrikes, but tend to be colourful species with distinctive crests or other head ornaments, such as wattles, from which they get their name. There are 12 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Benin.
The drongos are mostly black or dark grey in colour, sometimes with metallic tints. They have long forked tails, and some Asian species have elaborate tail decorations. They have short legs and sit very upright when perched, like a shrike. They flycatch or take prey from the ground. There are 24 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Benin.
- Square-tailed drongo, Dicrurus ludwigii
- Shining drongo, Dicrurus atripennis
- Fork-tailed drongo, Dicrurus adsimilis
- Velvet-mantled drongo, Dicrurus modestus
Crows, jays, ravens and magpies
The family Corvidae includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size among the Passeriformes, and some of the larger species show high levels of intelligence. There are 120 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Benin.
Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. Their flight is strong and direct and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country. They eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen. There are 125 species worldwide and 12 species which occur in Benin.
- Greater blue-eared glossy starling, Lamprotornis chalybaeus
- Lesser blue-eared glossy starling, Lamprotornis chloropterus
- Bronze-tailed glossy starling, Lamprotornis chalcurus
- Splendid glossy starling, Lamprotornis splendidus
- Purple glossy starling, Lamprotornis purpureus
- Long-tailed glossy starling, Lamprotornis caudatus
- Chestnut-bellied starling, Lamprotornis pulcher
- Violet-backed starling, Cinnyricinclus leucogaster
- Chestnut-winged starling, Onychognathus fulgidus
- Neumann's starling, Onychognathus neumanni
- Narrow-tailed starling, Poeoptera lugubris
- Yellow-billed oxpecker, Buphagus africanus
Weavers and allies
The weavers are small passerine birds related to the finches. They are seed-eating birds with rounded conical bills. The males of many species are brightly coloured, usually in red or yellow and black, some species show variation in colour only in the breeding season.
- White-billed buffalo weaver, Bubalornis albirostris
- Speckle-fronted weaver, Sporopipes frontalis
- Chestnut-crowned sparrow-weaver, Plocepasser superciliosus
- Slender-billed weaver, Ploceus pelzelni
- Little weaver, Ploceus luteolus
- Black-necked weaver, Ploceus nigricollis
- Orange weaver, Ploceus aurantius
- Heuglin's masked weaver, Ploceus heuglini
- Vitelline masked weaver, Ploceus vitellinus
- Village weaver, Ploceus cucullatus
- Vieillot's weaver, Ploceus nigerrimus
- Black-headed weaver, Ploceus melanocephalus
- Yellow-mantled weaver, Ploceus tricolor
- Maxwell's black weaver, Ploceus albinucha
- Preuss's weaver, Ploceus preussi
- Compact weaver, Pachyphantes superciliosus
- Red-vented malimbe, Malimbus scutatus
- Blue-billed malimbe, Malimbus nitens
- Crested malimbe, Malimbus malimbicus
- Red-headed malimbe, Malimbus rubricollis
- Red-headed weaver, Anaplectes rubriceps
- Red-headed quelea, Quelea erythrops
- Red-billed quelea, Quelea quelea
- Yellow-crowned bishop, Euplectes afer
- Black-winged bishop, Euplectes hordeaceus
- Orange bishop, Euplectes franciscanus
- Yellow-mantled widowbird, Euplectes macroura
- Red-collared widowbird, Euplectes ardens
- Thick-billed weaver, Amblyospiza albifrons
- Parasitic weaver, Anomalospiza imberbis
Waxbills and allies
The estrildid finches are small passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They are gregarious and often colonial seed eaters with short thick but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but have wide variation in plumage colours and patterns. There are 141 species worldwide and 27 species which occur in Benin.
- White-breasted negrofinch, Nigrita fusconota
- Chestnut-breasted negrofinch, Nigrita bicolor
- Grey-headed negrofinch, Nigrita canicapilla
- Grey-headed oliveback, Nesocharis capistrata
- Red-winged pytilia, Pytilia phoenicoptera
- Red-faced pytilia, Pytilia hypogrammica
- Green-backed twinspot, Mandingoa nitidula
- Black-bellied seedcracker, Pyrenestes ostrinus
- Western bluebill, Spermophaga haematina
- Dybowski's twinspot, Euschistospiza dybowskii
- Bar-breasted firefinch, Lagonosticta rufopicta
- Red-billed firefinch, Lagonosticta senegala
- Black-bellied firefinch, Lagonosticta rara
- African firefinch, Lagonosticta rubricata
- Black-faced firefinch, Lagonosticta larvata
- Red-cheeked cordonbleu, Uraeginthus bengalus
- Lavender waxbill, Estrilda caerulescens
- Orange-cheeked waxbill, Estrilda melpoda
- Black-rumped waxbill, Estrilda troglodytes
- Common waxbill, Estrilda astrild
- Zebra waxbill, Sporaeginthus subflavus
- Black-faced quailfinch, Ortygospiza atricollis
- African silverbill, Euodice cantans
- Bronze mannikin, Spermestes cucullatus
- Black-and-white mannikin, Spermestes bicolor
- Magpie mannikin, Spermestes fringilloides
- Cut-throat, Amadina fasciata
The indigobirds are finch-like species which usually have black or indigo predominating in their plumage. All are brood parasites, which lay their eggs in the nests of estrildid finches. There are 20 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Benin.
- Village indigobird, Vidua chalybeata
- Jambandu indigobird, Vidua raricola
- Baka indigobird, Vidua larvaticola
- Pale-winged indigobird, Vidua wilsoni
- Cameroon indigobird, Vidua camerunensis
- Pin-tailed whydah, Vidua macroura
- Togo paradise whydah, Vidua togoensis
- Long-tailed paradise whydah, Vidua interjecta
Buntings, sparrows, seedeaters and allies
The emberizids are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with distinctively shaped bills. In Europe, most species are called buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. There are 4 species which have been recorded in Benin.
- Gosling's bunting, Emberiza goslingi
- Golden-breasted bunting, Emberiza flaviventris
- Brown-rumped bunting, Emberiza affinis
- Cabanis's bunting, Emberiza cabanisi
Siskins, crossbills and allies
Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have twelve tail feathers and nine primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well.
- White-rumped seedeater, Crithagra leucopygius
- Yellow-fronted canary, Crithagra mozambicus
- Streaky-headed seedeater, Crithagra gularis
Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or grey birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed eaters, but they also consume small insects. There are 35 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Benin.
- Lepage, Denis. "Checklist of birds of Benin". Bird Checklists of the World. Avibase. Retrieved 27 April 2007.
- Clements, James F. (2000). Birds of the World: a Checklist. Cornell University Press. p. 880. ISBN 0-934797-16-1.
- Birds of Benin - World Institute for Conservation and Environment