List of birds of Eritrea
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 Eritrea.
The following tags have been used to highlight several categories, but not all species fall into one of these categories. Those that do not are commonly occurring native species.
- (A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in Eritrea
- (E) Endemic - a species endemic to Eritrea
The ostrich is a flightless bird native to Africa. It is the largest living species of bird. It is distinctive in its appearance, with a long neck and legs and the ability to run at high speeds.
- Common ostrich, Struthio camelus
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 Eritrea.
- 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.
- Persian shearwater, Puffinus persicus
Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their heads and long wings have black markings. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Eritrea.
- Red-billed tropicbird, Phaethon aethereus
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.
- Great cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo
- Socotra cormorant, Phalacrocorax nigrogularis
- 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
Frigatebirds are large seabirds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black-and-white or completely black, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have coloured inflatable throat pouches. They do not swim or walk and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan-to-body-weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week.
- Lesser frigatebird, Fregata ariel
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
- 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
- Waldrapp, Geronticus eremita
- Hadada ibis, Bostrychia hagedash
- Wattled ibis, Bostrychia carunculata
- Glossy ibis, Plegadis falcinellus
- Eurasian spoonbill, Platalea leucorodia
- 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.
- 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 2 species which occur in Eritrea.
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
- Blue-winged goose, Cyanochen cyanopterus
- Egyptian goose, Alopochen aegyptiacus
- Ruddy shelduck, Tadorna ferruginea
- Comb duck, Sarkidiornis melanotos
- Eurasian wigeon, Anas penelope
- Gadwall, Anas strepera
- Eurasian teal, Anas crecca
- Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos
- Yellow-billed duck, Anas undulata
- Northern pintail, Anas acuta
- Red-billed duck, Anas erythrorhyncha
- Hottentot teal, Anas hottentota
- Garganey, Anas querquedula
- Northern shoveler, Anas clypeata
- Southern pochard, Netta erythrophthalma
- Common pochard, Aythya ferina
- Ferruginous pochard, Aythya nyroca
- Tufted duck, Aythya fuligula
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.
- Black-shouldered kite, Elanus caeruleus
- Scissor-tailed kite, Chelictinia riocourii
- Black kite, Milvus migrans
- Yellow-billed kite, Milvus aegyptius
- African fish-eagle, Haliaeetus vocifer
- Hooded vulture, Necrosyrtes monachus
- Lammergeier, Gypaetus barbatus
- Egyptian vulture, Neophron percnopterus
- White-backed vulture, Gyps africanus
- Rüppell's vulture, Gyps rueppelli
- Eurasian griffon, Gyps fulvus
- Lappet-faced vulture, Torgos tracheliotos
- White-headed vulture, Trigonoceps occipitalis
- Beaudouin's snake eagle, Circaetus beaudouini
- Brown snake eagle, Circaetus cinereus
- Bateleur, Terathopius ecaudatus
- Western marsh-harrier, Circus aeruginosus
- Pallid harrier, Circus macrourus
- Montagu's harrier, Circus pygargus
- African harrier-hawk, Polyboroides typus
- Dark chanting goshawk, Melierax metabates
- Gabar goshawk, Micronisus gabar
- Red-chested goshawk, Accipiter toussenelii
- African goshawk, Accipiter tachiro
- Shikra, Accipiter badius
- Little sparrowhawk, Accipiter minullus
- Rufous-chested sparrowhawk, Accipiter rufiventris
- Grasshopper buzzard, Butastur rufipennis
- Eurasian buzzard, Buteo buteo
- Long-legged buzzard, Buteo rufinus
- Augur buzzard, Buteo augur
- Greater spotted eagle, Clanga clanga
- Tawny eagle, Aquila rapax
- Steppe eagle, Aquila nipalensis
- Imperial eagle, Aquila heliaca
- Verreaux's eagle, Aquila verreauxii
- African hawk-eagle, Aquila spilogaster
- Wahlberg's eagle, Hieraaetus wahlbergi
- Martial eagle, Polemaetus bellicosus
- Long-crested eagle, Lophaetus occipitalis
The secretary-bird 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. There are 62 species worldwide and 12 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Lesser kestrel, Falco naumanni
- Eurasian kestrel, Falco tinnunculus
- Greater kestrel, Falco rupicoloides
- Fox kestrel, Falco alopex
- Grey kestrel, Falco ardosiaceus
- Eleonora's falcon, Falco eleonorae
- Sooty falcon, Falco concolor
- Eurasian hobby, Falco subbuteo
- Lanner falcon, Falco biarmicus
- Saker falcon, Falco cherrug
- Barbary falcon, Falco pelegrinoides
- 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.
- Arabian partridge, Alectoris melanocephala
- Sand partridge, Ammoperdix heyi
- Orange River francolin, Scleroptila gutturalis
- Clapperton's francolin, Pternistis clappertoni
- Yellow-necked spurfowl, Pternistis leucoscepus
- Erckel's francolin, Pternistis erckelii
- Harlequin quail, Coturnix delegorguei
- 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. There are 6 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Eritrea.
- Helmeted guineafowl, Numida meleagris
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". There are 15 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Black crowned-crane, Balearica pavonina
- Wattled crane, Bugeranus carunculatus
- Common crane, Grus grus
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 8 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Corn crake, Crex crex
- Rouget's rail, Rougetius rougetii
- Little crake, Porzana parva
- Baillon's crake, Porzana pusilla
- Spotted crake, Porzana porzana
- Allen's gallinule, Porphyrio alleni
- Common moorhen, Gallinula chloropus
- Red-knobbed coot, Fulica cristata
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.
- Arabian bustard, Ardeotis arabs
- Denham's bustard, Neotis denhami
- Heuglin's bustard, Neotis heuglinii
- 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.
- Small buttonquail, Turnix sylvatica
Painted-snipe are short-legged, long-billed birds similar in shape to the true snipes, but more brightly coloured.
- Greater painted-snipe, Rostratula benghalensis
The crab-plover is related to the waders. It resembles a plover but with very long grey legs and a strong heavy black bill similar to a tern. It has black-and-white plumage, a long neck, partially webbed feet and a bill designed for eating crabs.
- Crab-plover, Dromas ardeola
- 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 Eritrea.
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 Eritrea.
- Eurasian thick-knee, Burhinus oedicnemus
- 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 Eritrea.
- Egyptian plover, Pluvianus aegyptius
- Cream-coloured courser, Cursorius cursor
- Temminck's courser, Cursorius temminckii
- Double-banded courser, Smutsornis africanus
- Bronze-winged courser, Rhinoptilus chalcopterus
- Collared pratincole, Glareola pratincola
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 15 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Spur-winged plover, Vanellus spinosus
- Black-headed lapwing, Vanellus tectus
- Black-winged lapwing, Vanellus melanopterus
- Wattled lapwing, Vanellus senegallus
- Sociable lapwing, Vanellus gregarius
- Pacific golden-plover, Pluvialis fulva
- Black-bellied plover, Pluvialis squatarola
- Common ringed plover, Charadrius hiaticula
- Little ringed plover, Charadrius dubius
- Kittlitz's plover, Charadrius pecuarius
- Three-banded plover, Charadrius tricollaris
- Snowy plover, Charadrius alexandrinus
- Lesser sandplover, Charadrius mongolus
- Greater sandplover, Charadrius leschenaultii
- Caspian plover, Charadrius asiaticus
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 23 species which occur in Eritrea.
- African snipe, Gallinago nigripennis
- 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
- Terek sandpiper, Xenus cinereus
- Common sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos
- Ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres
- Sanderling, Calidris alba
- Little stint, Calidris minuta
- Temminck's stint, Calidris temminckii
- Curlew sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea
- Dunlin, Calidris alpina
- Broad-billed sandpiper, Calidris falcinellus
- Ruff, Calidris pugnax
- Red-necked phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus
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 3 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Great skua, Stercorarius skua
- Pomarine jaeger, Stercorarius pomarinus
- Parasitic jaeger, Stercorarius parasiticus
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.
- White-eyed gull, Ichthyaetus leucophthalmus
- Pallas's gull, Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus
- Sooty gull, Ichthyaetus hemprichii
- Black-headed gull, Chroicocephalus ridibundus
- Slender-billed gull, Chroicocephalus genei
- Great black-backed gull, Larus marinus
- Herring gull, Larus argentatus
- Lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus
- Caspian gull, Larus cachinnans
- Armenian gull, Larus armenicus
- Gull-billed tern, Gelochelidon nilotica
- Caspian tern, Hydroprogne caspia
- Lesser crested tern, Thalasseus bengalensis
- Sandwich tern, Thalasseus sandvicensis
- Great crested tern, Thalasseus bergii
- Roseate tern, Sterna dougallii
- Common tern, Sterna hirundo
- White-cheeked tern, Sterna repressa
- Little tern, Sternula albifrons
- Saunders's tern, Sternula saundersi
- Bridled tern, Onychoprion anaethetus
- 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 5 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Chestnut-bellied sandgrouse, Pterocles exustus
- Spotted sandgrouse, Pterocles senegallus
- Yellow-throated sandgrouse, Pterocles gutturalis
- Lichtenstein's sandgrouse, Pterocles lichtensteinii
- Four-banded sandgrouse, Pterocles quadricinctus
Pigeons and doves
- Rock pigeon, Columba livia
- Speckled pigeon, Columba guinea
- White-collared pigeon, Columba albitorques
- Lemon dove, Columba larvata
- Eurasian turtle dove, Streptopelia turtur
- Dusky turtle dove, Streptopelia lugens
- African collared dove, Streptopelia roseogrisea
- African mourning dove, Streptopelia decipiens
- Red-eyed dove, Streptopelia semitorquata
- Ring-necked dove, Streptopelia capicola
- Vinaceous dove, Streptopelia vinacea
- Laughing dove, Spilopelia senegalensis
- Black-billed wood dove, Turtur abyssinicus
- Blue-spotted wood dove, Turtur afer
- Namaqua dove, Oena capensis
- Bruce's green pigeon, Treron waalia
Old World parrots
African and New World parrots
- Meyer's parrot, Poicephalus meyeri
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 2 species which occur in Eritrea.
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 12 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Pied cuckoo, Clamator jacobinus
- Levaillant's cuckoo, Clamator levaillantii
- Great spotted cuckoo, Clamator glandarius
- 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-headed coucal, Centropus monachus
- Senegal coucal, Centropus senegalensis
- White-browed coucal, Centropus superciliosus
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 Eritrea.
- 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 13 species which occur in Eritrea.
- African scops owl, Otus senegalensis
- European scops owl, Otus scops
- Northern white-faced owl, Ptilopsis leucotis
- Pharaoh eagle-owl, Bubo ascalaphus
- Cape eagle-owl, Bubo capensis
- Spotted eagle-owl, Bubo africanus
- Greyish eagle-owl, Bubo cinerascens
- Verreaux's eagle-owl, Bubo lacteus
- Pel's fishing owl, Scotopelia peli
- Pearl-spotted owlet, Glaucidium perlatum
- Little owl, Athene noctua
- African long-eared owl, Asio abyssinicus
- Short-eared owl, Asio flammeus
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 7 species which have been recorded in Eritrea.
- Eurasian nightjar, Caprimulgus europaeus
- Sombre nightjar, Caprimulgus fraenatus
- Egyptian nightjar, Caprimulgus aegyptius
- Nubian nightjar, Caprimulgus nubicus
- Plain nightjar, Caprimulgus inornatus
- 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 Eritrea.
- African palm-swift, Cypsiurus parvus
- Alpine swift, Tachymarptis melba
- Mottled swift, Tachymarptis aequatorialis
- Common swift, Apus apus
- Nyanza swift, Apus niansae
- 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 2 species which occur in Eritrea.
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 Eritrea.
- 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 Eritrea.
- Half-collared kingfisher, Alcedo semitorquata
- Malachite kingfisher, Corythornis cristatus
- African pygmy kingfisher, Ispidina picta
- Grey-headed kingfisher, Halcyon leucocephala
- Woodland kingfisher, Halcyon senegalensis
- Striped kingfisher, Halcyon chelicuti
- Collared kingfisher, Todirhamphus chloris
- 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 7 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Little bee-eater, Merops pusillus
- Blue-breasted bee-eater, Merops variegatus
- White-throated bee-eater, Merops albicollis
- Green bee-eater, Merops orientalis
- Blue-cheeked bee-eater, Merops persicus
- European bee-eater, Merops apiaster
- 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 5 species which occur in Eritrea.
- European roller, Coracias garrulus
- Abyssinian roller, Coracias abyssinica
- Lilac-breasted roller, Coracias caudata
- Rufous-crowned roller, Coracias naevia
- Broad-billed roller, Eurystomus glaucurus
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 Eritrea.
- 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 2 species which occur in Eritrea.
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.
- Northern red-billed hornbill, Tockus erythrorhynchus
- Eastern yellow-billed hornbill, Tockus flavirostris
- Hemprich's hornbill, Tockus hemprichii
- African grey hornbill, Tockus nasutus
- Silvery-cheeked hornbill, Ceratogymna brevis
- 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.
- Red-fronted tinkerbird, Pogoniulus pusillus
- Black-throated barbet, Tricholaema melanocephala
- Banded barbet, Lybius undatus
- Vieillot's barbet, Lybius vieilloti
- Black-billed barbet, Lybius guifsobalito
- Yellow-breasted barbet, Trachyphonus margaritatus
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 2 species which occur in Eritrea.
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
- Nubian woodpecker, Campethera nubica
- Abyssinian woodpecker, Dendropicos abyssinicus
- Cardinal woodpecker, Dendropicos fuscescens
- African grey woodpecker, Dendropicos goertae
- Brown-backed woodpecker, Dendropicos obsoletus
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 11 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Singing bushlark, Mirafra cantillans
- Chestnut-backed sparrow-lark, Eremopterix leucotis
- Black-crowned sparrow-lark, Eremopterix nigriceps
- Desert lark, Ammomanes deserti
- Greater hoopoe-lark, Alaemon alaudipes
- Bimaculated lark, Melanocorypha bimaculata
- Greater short-toed lark, Calandrella brachydactyla
- Blanford's lark, Calandrella blanfordi
- Red-capped lark, Calandrella cinerea
- Crested lark, Galerida cristata
- Thekla lark, Galerida theklae
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 12 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Sand martin, Riparia riparia
- Brown-throated martin, Riparia paludicola
- Banded martin, Riparia cincta
- Pale crag martin, Ptyonoprogne obsoleta
- Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica
- Ethiopian swallow, Hirundo aethiopica
- Wire-tailed swallow, Hirundo smithii
- Lesser striped swallow, Cecropis abyssinica
- Red-rumped swallow, Cecropis daurica
- Common house martin, Delichon urbicum
- Blue sawwing, Psalidoprocne pristoptera
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 10 species which occur in Eritrea.
- White wagtail, Motacilla alba
- African pied wagtail, Motacilla aguimp
- Yellow wagtail, Motacilla flava
- Grey wagtail, Motacilla cinerea
- Plain-backed pipit, Anthus leucophrys (A)
- African pipit, Anthus cinnamomeus
- Tawny pipit, Anthus campestris
- Long-billed pipit, Anthus similis
- 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.
- Red-shouldered cuckooshrike, Campephaga phoenicea
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. There are 130 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Eritrea.
- Common bulbul, Pycnonotus barbatus
The grey hypocolius is a small Middle Eastern bird with the shape and soft plumage of a waxwing. They are mainly a uniform grey colour except the males have a black triangular mask around their eyes.
- Hypocolius, Hypocolius ampelinus
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.
- Groundscraper thrush, Psophocichla litsitsirupa
- Abyssinian thrush, Turdus abyssinicus
- African thrush, Turdus pelios
- Song thrush, Turdus philomelos
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 15 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Singing cisticola, Cisticola cantans
- Boran cisticola, Cisticola bodessa
- Red-pate cisticola, Cisticola ruficeps
- Winding cisticola, Cisticola galactotes
- Stout cisticola, Cisticola robustus
- Croaking cisticola, Cisticola natalensis
- Siffling cisticola, Cisticola brachypterus
- Zitting cisticola, Cisticola juncidis
- Desert cisticola, Cisticola aridulus
- Black-necked cisticola, Cisticola eximius
- Pectoral-patch cisticola, Cisticola brunnescens
- Graceful prinia, Prinia gracilis
- Tawny-flanked prinia, Prinia subflava
- Cricket longtail, Spiloptila clamans
- Red-fronted warbler, Urorhipis rufifrons
- Buff-bellied warbler, Phyllolais pulchella
- Yellow-bellied eremomela, Eremomela icteropygialis
- Green-backed eremomela, Eremomela canescens
- Northern crombec, Sylvietta brachyura'
- Savi's warbler, Locustella luscinioides
- Sedge warbler, Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
- Eurasian reed warbler, Acrocephalus scirpaceus
- African reed warbler, Acrocephalus baeticatus
- Great reed warbler, Acrocephalus arundinaceus
- Clamorous reed warbler, Acrocephalus stentoreus
- Basra reed warbler, Acrocephalus griseldis
- Eastern olivaceous warbler, Iduna pallida
- Upcher's warbler, Hippolais languida
- Olive-tree warbler, Hippolais olivetorum
- Icterine warbler, Hippolais icterina
- Brown woodland warbler, Phylloscopus umbrovirens
- Willow warbler, Phylloscopus trochilus
- Common chiffchaff, Phylloscopus collybita
- Western Bonelli's warbler, Phylloscopus bonelli
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.
- Eurasian blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla
- Garden warbler, Sylvia borin
- Greater whitethroat, Sylvia communis
- Lesser whitethroat, Sylvia curruca
- African desert warbler, Sylvia deserti
- Barred warbler, Sylvia nisoria
- Western Orphean warbler, Sylvia hortensis
- Red Sea warbler, Sylvia leucomelaena
- Rüppell's warbler, Sylvia ruppeli
- Menetries's warbler, Sylvia mystacea
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.
- Rufous-tailed rock thrush, Monticola saxatilis
- Little rock thrush, Monticola rufocinereus
- Blue rock thrush, Monticola solitarius
- Pale flycatcher, Melaenornis pallidus
- Abyssinian slaty flycatcher, Melaenornis chocolatinus
- Northern black flycatcher, Melaenornis edolioides
- Spotted flycatcher, Muscicapa striata
- African dusky flycatcher, Muscicapa adusta
- Semicollared flycatcher, Ficedula semitorquata
- Thrush nightingale, Luscinia luscinia
- Bluethroat, Luscinia svecica
- White-throated robin, Irania gutturalis
- Rueppell's robin-chat, Cossypha semirufa
- Rufous-tailed scrub robin, Cercotrichas galactotes
- Black scrub robin, Cercotrichas podobe
- Black redstart, Phoenicurus ochruros
- Common redstart, Phoenicurus phoenicurus
- Whinchat, Saxicola rubetra
- European stonechat, Saxicola rubicola (A)
- African stonechat, Saxicola torquatus
- White-tailed wheatear, Oenanthe leucopyga
- Northern wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe
- Mourning wheatear, Oenanthe lugens
- Pied wheatear, Oenanthe pleschanka
- Black-eared wheatear, Oenanthe hispanica
- Red-tailed wheatear, Oenanthe xanthoprymna
- Desert wheatear, Oenanthe deserti
- Isabelline wheatear, Oenanthe isabellina
- Red-breasted wheatear, Oenanthe bottae
- Heuglin's wheatear, Oenanthe heuglini (A)
- Brown-tailed chat, Cercomela scotocerca
- Blackstart, Cercomela melanura
- Rueppell's chat, Myrmecocichla melaena (E)
- White-fronted black-chat, Myrmecocichla albifrons
- Mocking cliff-chat, Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris
- White-winged cliff-chat, Thamnolaea semirufa
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 31 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Eritrea.
The monarch flycatchers are small to medium-sized insectivorous passerines which hunt by flycatching. There are 99 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Eritrea.
- African paradise flycatcher, Terpsiphone viridis
- Fulvous chatterer, Turdoides fulvus
- White-rumped babbler, Turdoides leucopygius
- Cretzschmar's babbler, Turdoides leucocephalus
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 3 species which occur in Eritrea.
- White-winged black-tit, Melaniparus leucomelas
- White-shouldered black-tit, Melaniparus guineensis
- White-backed black-tit, Melaniparus leuconotus
The penduline tits are a group of small passerine birds related to the true tits. They are insectivores. There are 13 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Eritrea.
- Sennar penduline-tit, Anthoscopus punctifrons
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 7 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Nile Valley sunbird, Hedydipna metallica
- Scarlet-chested sunbird, Chalcomitra senegalensis
- Tacazze sunbird, Nectarinia tacazze
- Beautiful sunbird, Cinnyris pulchellus
- Mariqua sunbird, Cinnyris mariquensis
- Shining sunbird, Cinnyris habessinicus
- Variable sunbird, Cinnyris venustus
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 3 species which occur in Eritrea.
- African yellow white-eye, Zosterops senegalensis
- Broad-ringed white-eye, Zosterops poliogastrus
- White-breasted white-eye, Zosterops abyssinicus
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 2 species which occur in Eritrea.
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.
- Red-backed shrike, Lanius collurio
- Isabelline shrike, Lanius isabellinus
- Red-tailed shrike, Lanius phoenicuroides
- Southern grey shrike, Lanius meridionalis
- Lesser grey shrike, Lanius minor
- Northern fiscal, Lanius humeralis
- Masked shrike, Lanius nubicus
- Woodchat shrike, Lanius senator
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 8 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Brubru, Nilaus afer
- Northern puffback, Dryoscopus gambensis
- Black-crowned tchagra, Tchagra senegala
- Red-naped bushshrike, Laniarius ruficeps
- Ethiopian boubou, Laniarius aethiopicus
- Black-headed gonolek, Laniarius erythrogaster
- Rosy-patched bushshrike, Rhodophoneus 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 1 species which occurs in Eritrea.
- White helmetshrike, Prionops plumatus
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 1 species which occurs in Eritrea.
- Fork-tailed drongo, Dicrurus adsimilis
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 7 species which occur in Eritrea.
- House crow, Corvus splendens
- Cape crow, Corvus capensis
- Pied crow, Corvus albus
- Brown-necked raven, Corvus ruficollis
- Somali crow, Corvus edithae
- Fan-tailed raven, Corvus rhipidurus
- Thick-billed raven, Corvus crassirostris
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 Eritrea.
- Wattled starling, Creatophora cinerea
- Greater blue-eared glossy-starling, Lamprotornis chalybaeus
- Lesser blue-eared glossy-starling, Lamprotornis chloropterus
- Rueppell's glossy-starling, Lamprotornis purpuropterus
- Chestnut-bellied starling, Lamprotornis pulcher
- Violet-backed starling, Cinnyricinclus leucogaster
- Red-winged starling, Onychognathus morio
- Slender-billed starling, Onychognathus tenuirostris
- Somali starling, Onychognathus blythii
- White-billed starling, Onychognathus albirostris
- Red-billed oxpecker, Buphagus erythrorhynchus
- 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
- Baglafecht weaver, Ploceus baglafecht
- Little weaver, Ploceus luteolus
- Rueppell's weaver, Ploceus galbula
- Village weaver, Ploceus cucullatus
- Black-headed weaver, Ploceus melanocephalus
- Chestnut weaver, Ploceus rubiginosus
- Red-billed quelea, Quelea quelea
- Orange bishop, Euplectes franciscanus
- Yellow-shouldered widowbird, Euplectes macroura
- Red-collared widowbird, Euplectes ardens
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 10 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Green-winged pytilia, Pytilia melba
- Red-billed firefinch, Lagonosticta senegala
- Jameson's firefinch, Lagonosticta rhodopareia
- Red-cheeked cordonbleu, Uraeginthus bengalus
- Yellow-bellied waxbill, Estrilda quartinia
- Crimson-rumped waxbill, Estrilda rhodopyga
- Black-rumped waxbill, Estrilda troglodytes
- African quailfinch, Ortygospiza fuscocrissa
- African silverbill, Euodice cantans
- 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 4 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Village indigobird, Vidua chalybeata
- Pin-tailed whydah, Vidua macroura
- Eastern paradise-whydah, Vidua paradisaea
- Northern paradise-whydah, Vidua orientalis
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.
- Cinereous bunting, Emberiza cineracea
- Ortolan bunting, Emberiza hortulana
- Cretzschmar's bunting, Emberiza caesia
- Striolated bunting, Emberiza striolata
- Cinnamon-breasted bunting, Emberiza tahapisi
- Golden-breasted bunting, Emberiza flaviventris
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.
- Cape canary, Serinus canicollis
- Yellow-crowned canary, Serinus flavivertex
- Ethiopian siskin, Serinus nigriceps
- African citril, Crithagra citrinelloides
- White-rumped seedeater, Crithagra leucopygius
- Yellow-rumped serin, Crithagra xanthopygius
- Yellow-fronted canary, Crithagra mozambicus
- Brown-rumped seedeater, Crithagra tristriatus
- Streaky seedeater, Crithagra striolatus
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 6 species which occur in Eritrea.
- Grey-headed sparrow, Passer griseus
- Swainson's sparrow, Passer swainsonii
- Sudan golden-sparrow, Passer luteus
- Yellow-spotted petronia, Petronia pyrgita
- Bush petronia, Petronia dentata
- Pale rockfinch, Carpospiza brachydactyla
- Lepage, Denis. "Checklist of birds of Eritrea". 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 Eritrea - World Institute for Conservation and Environment