List of birds of South Africa

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The blue crane is the national bird of South Africa.

South Africa is a large country, ranked 25th by size in the world, and is situated in the temperate latitudes and subtropics. Due to a range of climate types present, a patchwork of unique habitat types occur, which contribute to its biodiversity and level of endemism. This list incorporates the mainland and nearshore islands and waters only. The submerged though ecologically important Agulhas Bank is for most part inside its territorial waters. Offshore, South Africa's territory includes the Prince Edward Islands in the Subantarctic Indian Ocean.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (English and scientific names) are those of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 2022 edition, except that South African spelling is used.[1] Taxonomic changes are on-going. As more research is gathered from studies of distribution, behaviour and DNA, the order and number of families and species may change. Furthermore, different approaches to ornithological nomenclature have led to concurrent systems of classification (see Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy and IOU taxonomy).

Unless otherwise noted, the list is that of BirdLife South Africa (BLSA).[2] Notes in the status column are also from this source. Notes of population status, such as "Endangered", refer to the worldwide population, not the South African part of it except for endemics. Unless otherwise noted in the "status" column, the species is a resident or regularly-occurring migrant.

  • "Vagrant" means the species rarely or accidentally occurs in South Africa.
  • "Endemic" means the species is found only in South Africa.
  • "SLE endemic" means the species is found only in South Africa and the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). Lesotho is surrounded by South Africa and Eswatini nearly so.

This list contains 876 species according to the Clements taxonomy. The BLSA list includes additional entries as species which Clements considers subspecies; some of them are noted. According to BLSA, 18 species are endemic, 20 are SLE endemic, and 11 have been introduced by humans. Clements describes only 15 as endemic and 14 as SLE endemic.


Common ostrich

Order: Struthioniformes   Family: Struthionidae

Ostriches are flightless birds native to Africa. They are the largest living species of bird. They are distinctive in appearance, with a long neck and legs and the ability to run at high speeds.

Common name Binomial Status
Common ostrich
(South African ostrich)
Struthio camelus
(S. c. australis)

Ducks, geese, and waterfowl[edit]

Fulvous whistling-duck

Order: Anseriformes   Family: Anatidae

The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds adapted to an aquatic existence, with webbed feet, flattened bills, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating.

Common name Binomial Status
White-faced whistling-duck Dendrocygna viduata
Fulvous whistling-duck Dendrocygna bicolor
White-backed duck Thalassornis leuconotus
Mute swan Cygnus olor Introduced
Knob-billed duck Sarkidiornis melanotos
Egyptian goose Alopochen aegyptiaca
South African shelduck Tadorna cana
Spur-winged goose Plectropterus gambensis
African pygmy-goose Nettapus auritus
Garganey Spatula querquedula Vagrant
Blue-billed teal Spatula hottentota
Cape shoveler Spatula smithii
Northern shoveler Spatula clypeata Vagrant
African black duck Anas sparsa
Yellow-billed duck Anas undulata
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos Introduced
Cape teal Anas capensis
Red-billed duck Anas erythrorhyncha
Northern pintail Anas acuta Vagrant
Southern pochard Netta erythrophthalma
Maccoa duck Oxyura maccoa Vulnerable


Helmeted guineafowl

Order: Galliformes   Family: Numididae

The guineafowl are a family of birds native to Africa. They typically eat insects and seeds, are ground-nesting, and resemble partridges, except with featherless heads.

Common name Binomial Status
Helmeted guineafowl Numida meleagris
Southern crested guineafowl Guttera edouardi

Pheasants, grouse, and allies[edit]

Common quail

Order: Galliformes   Family: Phasianidae

The Phasianidae are a family of terrestrial birds consisting of quails, partridges, snowcocks, francolins, spurfowls, tragopans, monals, pheasants, peafowl, and jungle fowls. In general, they are plump and have broad, relatively short wings.

Common name Binomial Status
Indian peafowl Pavo cristatus Introduced
Crested francolin Ortygornis sephaena
Coqui francolin Campocolinus coqui
Red-winged francolin Scleroptila levaillantii
Grey-winged francolin Scleroptila africanus SLE endemic
Orange River francolin Scleroptila gutturalis
Shelley's francolin Scleroptila shelleyi
Blue quail Synoicus adansonii Vagrant
Common quail Coturnix coturnix
Harlequin quail Coturnix delegorguei
Chukar Alectoris chukar Introduced
Red-billed francolin Pternistis adspersus
Cape francolin Pternistis capensis See note[notes 1]
Natal francolin Pternistis natalensis
Swainson's francolin Pternistis swainsonii
Red-necked francolin Pternistis afer


Lesser flamingos

Order: Phoenicopteriformes   Family: Phoenicopteridae

Flamingos are large gregarious wading birds 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.

Common name Binomial Status
Greater flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
Lesser flamingo Phoeniconaias minor Near threatened


Little grebe

Order: Podicipediformes   Family: Podicipedidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Little grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Great crested grebe Podiceps cristatus
Eared grebe Podiceps nigricollis

Pigeons and doves[edit]

Lemon dove

Order: Columbiformes   Family: Columbidae

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere.

Common name Binomial Status
Rock pigeon Columba livia Introduced
Speckled pigeon Columba guinea
Rameron pigeon Columba arquatrix
Delegorgue's pigeon Columba delegorguei
Lemon dove Columba larvata
European turtle-dove Streptopelia turtur Vagrant; vulnerable
Mourning collared-dove Streptopelia decipiens
Red-eyed dove Streptopelia semitorquata
Ring-necked dove Streptopelia capicola
Laughing dove Streptopelia senegalensis
Emerald-spotted wood-dove Turtur chalcospilos
Blue-spotted wood-dove Turtur afer
Tambourine dove Turtur tympanistria
Namaqua dove Oena capensis
African green-pigeon Treron calvus


Female double-banded sandgrouse

Order: Pterocliformes   Family: Pteroclidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Namaqua sandgrouse Pterocles namaqua
Yellow-throated sandgrouse Pterocles gutturalis
Double-banded sandgrouse Pterocles bicinctus
Burchell's sandgrouse Pterocles burchelli


Blue bustard

Order: Otidiformes   Family: Otididae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Kori bustard Ardeotis kori Near threatened
Ludwig's bustard Neotis ludwigii Endangered
Denham's bustard Neotis denhami Near threatened
White-bellied bustard Eupodotis senegalensis
Blue bustard Eupodotis caerulescens SLE endemic (see note);[notes 2] near threatened
Karoo bustard Eupodotis vigorsii
Red-crested bustard Eupodotis ruficrista
Black bustard Eupodoti afra Endemic; vulnerable
White-quilled bustard Eupodoti afraoides
Black-bellied bustard Lissotis melanogaster


Order: Musophagiformes   Family: Musophagidae

The turacos, plantain eaters, and go-away-birds make up the 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.

Common name Binomial Status
Livingstone's turaco Tauraco livingstonii
Knysna turaco Tauraco corythaix SLE endemic
Purple-crested turaco Tauraco porphyreolophus
Grey go-away-bird Corythaixoides concolor


Order: Cuculiformes   Family: Cuculidae

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners, and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails, and strong legs.

Common name Binomial Status
Senegal coucal Centropus senegalensis Vagrant
White-browed coucal Centropus superciliosus
Black coucal Centropus grillii
Green malkoha Ceuthmochares australis
Great spotted cuckoo Clamator glandarius
Levaillant's cuckoo Clamator levaillantii
Pied cuckoo Clamator jacobinus
Thick-billed cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti
Dideric cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius
Klaas's cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas
African emerald cuckoo Chrysococcyx cupreus
Barred long-tailed cuckoo Cercococcyx montanus Vagrant
Black cuckoo Cuculus clamosus
Red-chested cuckoo Cuculus solitarius
Lesser cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus Vagrant
African cuckoo Cuculus gularis
Madagascar cuckoo Cuculus rochii Vagrant
Common cuckoo Cuculus canorus

Nightjars and allies[edit]

Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Caprimulgidae

Nightjars are medium-sized ground-nesting nocturnal birds with 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.

Common name Binomial Status
Pennant-winged nightjar Caprimulgus vexillarius
Eurasian nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus
Rufous-cheeked nightjar Caprimulgus rufigena
Fiery-necked nightjar Caprimulgus pectoralis
Swamp nightjar Caprimulgus natalensis
Freckled nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma
Square-tailed nightjar Caprimulgus fossii


Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Apodidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Mottled spinetail Telacanthura ussheri
Bat-like spinetail Neafrapus boehmi
Alpine swift Apus melba
Common swift Apus apus
African swift Apus barbatus
Bradfield's swift Apus bradfieldi
Little swift Apus affinis
Horus swift Apus horus
White-rumped swift Apus caffer
African palm-swift Cypsiurus parvus


Order: Gruiformes   Family: Sarothruridae

The flufftails are a small family of ground-dwelling birds found only in Madagascar and sub-Saharan Africa.

Common name Binomial Status
Buff-spotted flufftail Sarothrura elegans
Red-chested flufftail Sarothrura rufa
Streaky-breasted flufftail Sarothrura boehmi Vagrant
Striped flufftail Sarothrura affinis
White-winged flufftail Sarothrura ayresi Critically endangered

Rails, gallinules, and coots[edit]

African rail

Order: Gruiformes   Family: Rallidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
African rail Rallus caerulescens
Corn crake Crex crex
African crake Crex egregia
Spotted crake Porzana porzana
Lesser moorhen Paragallinula angulata
Eurasian moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Red-knobbed coot Fulica cristata
Allen's gallinule Porphyrio alleni
Purple gallinule Porphyrio martinica Vagrant
African swamphen Porphyrio madagascariensis
Striped crake Amaurornis marginalis Vagrant
Black crake Zapornia flavirostra
Little crake Zapornia parva Vagrant
Baillon's crake Zapornia pusilla


Order: Gruiformes   Family: Heliornithidae

Heliornithidae is a small family of tropical birds with webbed lobes on their feet similar to those of grebes and coots.

Common name Binomial Status
African finfoot Podica senegalensis


Blue crane

Order: Gruiformes   Family: Gruidae

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".

Common name Binomial Status
Grey crowned-crane Balearica regulorum Endangered
Blue crane Anthropoides paradiseus Vulnerable
Wattled crane Bugeranus carunculatus Vulnerable


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Chionidae

The two species in this family breed on Antarctica and islands near that continent.

Common name Binomial Status
Snowy sheathbill Chionis alba Vagrant


Spotted thick-knee

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Burhinidae

The stone-curlews and 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.

Common name Binomial Status
Water thick-knee Burhinus vermiculatus
Spotted thick-knee Burhinus capensis

Stilts and avocets[edit]

Black-winged stilt

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Recurvirostridae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Black-winged stilt Himantopus himantopus
Pied avocet Recurvirostra avosetta


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Haematopodidae

The oystercatchers are large and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prising open molluscs.

Common name Binomial Status
Eurasian oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus Vagrant; near threatened
African oystercatcher Haematopus moquini

Plovers and lapwings[edit]

Nesting blacksmith lapwing

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Charadriidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Black-bellied plover Pluvialis squatarola
American golden-plover Pluvialis dominica Vagrant
Pacific golden-plover Pluvialis fulva Vagrant
Long-toed lapwing Vanellus crassirostris Vagrant
Blacksmith lapwing Vanellus armatus
Spur-winged lapwing Vanellus spinosus Vagrant
White-headed lapwing Vanellus albiceps
Senegal lapwing Vanellus lugubris
Black-winged lapwing Vanellus melanopterus
Crowned lapwing Vanellus coronatus
Wattled lapwing Vanellus senegallus
Lesser sand-plover Charadrius mongolus
Greater sand-plover Charadrius leschenaultii
Caspian plover Charadrius asiaticus
Kittlitz's plover Charadrius pecuarius
Common ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula
Little ringed plover Charadrius dubius Vagrant
Three-banded plover Charadrius tricollaris
White-fronted plover Charadrius marginatus
Chestnut-banded plover Charadrius pallidus Near threatened


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Rostratulidae

Painted-snipe are short-legged, long-billed birds similar in shape to the true snipes, but more brightly coloured.

Common name Binomial Status
Greater painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Jacanidae

The jacanas are a group of waders 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.

Common name Binomial Status
Lesser jacana Microparra capensis
African jacana Actophilornis africanus

Sandpipers and allies[edit]

Marsh sandpiper

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Scolopacidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata Near threatened
Bar-tailed godwit Limosa lapponica Near threatened
Black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa Vagrant; near threatened
Hudsonian godwit Limosa haemastica Vagrant
Ruddy turnstone Arenaria interpres
Great knot Calidris tenuirostris Vagrant; endangered
Red knot Calidris canutus Near threatened
Ruff Calidris pugnax
Broad-billed sandpiper Calidris falcinellus Vagrant
Curlew sandpiper Calidris ferruginea Near threatened
Temminck's stint Calidris temminckii Vagrant
Long-toed stint Calidris subminuta Vagrant
Red-necked stint Calidris ruficollis Vagrant; near threatened
Sanderling Calidris alba
Dunlin Calidris alpina Vagrant
Baird's sandpiper Calidris bairdii Vagrant
Little stint Calidris minuta
White-rumped sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis Vagrant
Buff-breasted sandpiper Calidris subruficollis Vagrant; near threatened
Pectoral sandpiper Calidris melanotos Vagrant
Asian dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus Vagrant; near threatened
Great snipe Gallinago media Vagrant; near threatened
African snipe Gallinago nigripennis
Terek sandpiper Xenus cinereus
Wilson's phalarope Phalaropus tricolor Vagrant
Red-necked phalarope Phalaropus lobatus Vagrant; near threatened
Red phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius
Common sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Green sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Spotted redshank Tringa erythropus Vagrant
Common greenshank Tringa nebularia
Lesser yellowlegs Tringa flavipes Vagrant
Marsh sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
Wood sandpiper Tringa glareola
Common redshank Tringa totanus


Small buttonquail

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Turnicidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Small buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus
Black-rumped buttonquail Turnix nanus
Fynbos buttonquail Turnix hottentottus Endemic


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Dromadidae

Dromas ardeola

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's. It has black-and-white plumage, a long neck, partially webbed feet, and a bill designed for eating crabs.

Common name Binomial Status
Crab-plover Dromas ardeola Vagrant

Pratincoles and coursers[edit]

Double-banded courser

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Glareolidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Burchell's courser Cursorius rufus
Temminck's courser Cursorius temminckii
Double-banded courser Smutsornis africanus
Three-banded courser Rhinoptilus cinctus
Bronze-winged courser Rhinoptilus chalcopterus
Collared pratincole Glareola pratincola
Black-winged pratincole Glareola nordmanni Near threatened
Rock pratincole Glareola nuchalis Vagrant

Skuas and jaegers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Stercorariidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
South polar skua Stercorarius maccormicki Vagrant
Brown skua Stercorarius antarcticus
Pomarine jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus
Parasitic jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus
Long-tailed jaeger Stercorarius longicaudus

Gulls, terns, and skimmers[edit]

Kelp gull

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Laridae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla Vagrant; vulnerable
Sabine's gull Xema sabini
Slender-billed gull Chroicocephalus genei Vagrant
Grey-hooded gull Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus
Hartlaub's gull Chroicocephalus hartlaubii
Black-headed gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus Vagrant
Laughing gull Leucophaeus atricilla Vagrant
Franklin's gull Leucophaeus pipixcan Vagrant
Sooty gull Ichthyaetus hemprichii Vagrant
Ring-billed gull Larus delawarensis
Lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus Vagrant
Kelp gull Larus dominicanus See note[notes 3]
Brown noddy Anous stolidus Vagrant
Lesser noddy Anous tenuirostris Vagrant
Sooty tern Onychoprion fuscatus
Bridled tern Onychoprion anaethetus Vagrant
Little tern Sternula albifrons winter migrant
Damara tern Sternula balaenarum Vulnerable
Gull-billed tern Gelochelidon nilotica Vagrant
Caspian tern Hydroprogne caspia
Black tern Chlidonias niger Vagrant
White-winged tern Chlidonias leucopterus
Whiskered tern Chlidonias hybrida
Roseate tern Sterna dougallii
Black-naped tern Sterna sumatrana Vagrant
Common tern Sterna hirundo
Arctic tern Sterna paradisaea
Antarctic tern Sterna vittata
White-cheeked tern Sterna repressa Vagrant
Great crested tern Thalasseus bergii
Sandwich tern Thalasseus sandvicensis
Elegant tern Thalasseus elegans Vagrant
Lesser crested tern Thalasseus bengalensis
Black skimmer Rynchops niger Vagrant
African skimmer Rynchops flavirostris Vagrant; near threatened


Order: Phaethontiformes   Family: Phaethontidae

Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their heads and long wings have black markings.

Common name Binomial Status
White-tailed tropicbird Phaethon lepturus Vagrant
Red-billed tropicbird Phaethon aethereus Vagrant
Red-tailed tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda Vagrant


African penguins

Order: Sphenisciformes   Family: Spheniscidae

The penguins are a group of flightless aquatic birds living almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid, and other forms of marine life caught while swimming underwater.

Common name Binomial Status
King penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus Vagrant
African penguin Spheniscus demersus Endangered
Macaroni penguin Eudyptes chrysolophus Vagrant; vulnerable
Southern rockhopper penguin Eudyptes chrysocome Vagrant; vulnerable
Moseley's rockhopper penguin Eudyptes moseleyi Vagrant; endangered


Indian yellow-nosed albatross

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Diomedeidae

The albatrosses are among the largest of flying birds, with those of the genus Diomedea having the largest wingspan of any extant bird.

Common name Binomial Status
Yellow-nosed albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos Endangered
Gray-headed albatross Thalassarche chrysostoma Vagrant; endangered
Buller's albatross Thalassarche bulleri Vagrant; near threatened
White-capped albatross Thalassarche cauta Near threatened
Salvin's albatross Thalassarche salvini Vagrant; vulnerable
Chatham albatross Thalassarche eremita Vagrant; vulnerable
Black-browed albatross Thalassarche melanophrys
Sooty albatross Phoebetria fusca Vagrant; endangered
Light-mantled albatross Phoebetria palpebrata Vagrant; near threatened
Royal albatross Diomedea epomophora Vagrant; vulnerable
Wandering albatross Diomedea exulans Vulnerable
Laysan albatross Phoebastria immutabilis Vagrant; near threatened

Southern storm-petrels[edit]

Wilson's storm-petrel 'pattering' on the ocean surface

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Oceanitidae

The storm-petrels are the smallest seabirds, relatives of the petrels, feeding on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like. Until 2018, this family's species were included with the other storm-petrels in family Hydrobatidae.

Common name Binomial Status
Wilson's storm-petrel Oceanites oceanicus
Gray-backed storm-petrel Garrodia nereis Vagrant
White-faced storm-petrel Pelagodroma marina Vagrant
White-bellied storm-petrel Fregetta grallaria Vagrant
Black-bellied storm-petrel Fregetta tropica

Northern storm-petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Hydrobatidae

Though the members of this family are similar in many respects to the southern storm-petrels, including their general appearance and habits, there are enough genetic differences to warrant their placement in a separate family.

Common name Binomial Status
European storm-petrel Hydrobates pelagicus
Leach's storm-petrel Hydrobates leucorhous Vulnerable
Swinhoe's storm-petrel Hydrobates monorhis Vagrant
Matsudaira's storm-petrel Hydrobates matsudairae Vagrant; vulnerable

Shearwaters and petrels[edit]

White-chinned petrel

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Procellariidae

The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterised by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary.

Common name Binomial Status
Southern giant-petrel Macronectes giganteus
Northern giant-petrel Macronectes halli
Southern fulmar Fulmarus glacialoides
Antarctic petrel Thalassoica antarctica Vagrant
Cape petrel Daption capense
Snow petrel Pagodroma nivea Vagrant
Kerguelen petrel Aphrodroma brevirostris Vagrant
Great-winged petrel Pterodroma macroptera
Gray-faced petrel Pterodroma gouldi Vagrant
Trindade petrel Pterodroma arminjoniana Vagrant
Soft-plumaged petrel Pterodroma mollis
Barau's petrel Pterodroma baraui Vagrant; endangered
White-headed petrel Pterodroma lessonii Vagrant
Atlantic petrel Pterodroma incerta Vagrant; endangered
Blue petrel Halobaena caerulea Vagrant
Fairy prion Pachyptila turtur Vagrant
Broad-billed prion Pachyptila vittata Vagrant
Salvin's prion Pachyptila salvini Vagrant
Antarctic prion Pachyptila desolata
Slender-billed prion Pachyptila belcheri Vagrant
Jouanin's petrel Bulweria fallax Vagrant
Tahiti petrel Pseudobulweria rostrata Vagrant
Gray petrel Procellaria cinerea Vagrant; near threatened
White-chinned petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis Vulnerable
Spectacled petrel Procellaria conspicillata Vulnerable
Streaked shearwater Calonectris leucomelas Vagrant; near threatened
Cory's shearwater Calonectris diomedea
Flesh-footed shearwater Ardenna carneipes Near threatened
Great shearwater Ardenna gravis
Wedge-tailed shearwater Ardenna pacifica Vagrant
Sooty shearwater Ardenna grisea Near threatened
Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus
Balearic shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus Vagrant
Subantarctic shearwater Puffinus elegans Vagrant
Tropical shearwater Puffinus bailloni Vagrant


Black stork

Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Ciconiidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
African openbill Anastomus lamelligerus
Black stork Ciconia nigra
Abdim's stork Ciconia abdimii
African woolly-necked stork Ciconia microscelis
White stork Ciconia ciconia
Saddle-billed stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis
Marabou stork Leptoptilos crumenifer
Yellow-billed stork Mycteria ibis


Order: Suliformes   Family: Fregatidae

Frigatebirds are large seabirds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black, or black-and-white, 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.

Common name Binomial Status
Lesser frigatebird Fregata ariel Vagrant
Great frigatebird Fregata minor Vagrant

Boobies and gannets[edit]

Breeding colony of Cape gannets

Order: Suliformes   Family: Sulidae

The sulids comprise the gannets and boobies. Both groups are medium to large coastal seabirds that plunge-dive for fish.

Common name Binomial Status
Masked booby Sula dactylatra Vagrant
Brown booby Sula leucogaster Vagrant
Red-footed booby Sula sula Vagrant
Cape gannet Morus capensis Endangered
Australasian gannet Morus serrator Vagrant


African darter

Order: Suliformes   Family: Anhingidae

Anhingas or 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.

Common name Binomial Status
African darter Anhinga rufa

Cormorants and shags[edit]

Cape cormorant

Order: Suliformes   Family: Phalacrocoracidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Long-tailed cormorant Microcarbo africanus
Crowned cormorant Microcarbo coronatus Near threatened
Bank cormorant Phalacrocorax neglectus Endangered
Cape cormorant Phalacrocorax capensis Endangered
Great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo


Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Pelecanidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Great white pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus
Pink-backed pelican Pelecanus rufescens


Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Scopidae

The hamerkop 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.

Common name Binomial Status
Hamerkop Scopus umbretta

Herons, egrets, and bitterns[edit]

The Goliath heron is the world's largest species of heron

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Ardeidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Great bittern Botaurus stellaris Vagrant
Little bittern Ixobrychus minutus
Dwarf bittern Ixobrychus sturmii
Gray heron Ardea cinerea
Black-headed heron Ardea melanocephala
Goliath heron Ardea goliath
Purple heron Ardea purpurea
Great egret Ardea alba
Intermediate egret Ardea intermedia
Little egret Egretta garzetta
Snowy egret Egretta thula Vagrant
Little blue heron Egretta caerulea Vagrant
Slaty egret Egretta vinaceigula Vagrant; vulnerable
Black heron Egretta ardesiaca
Cattle egret Bubulcus ibis
Squacco heron Ardeola ralloides
Malagasy pond-heron Ardeola idae Vagrant
Rufous-bellied heron Ardeola rufiventris Vagrant
Striated heron Butorides striata
Black-crowned night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax
White-backed night-heron Gorsachius leuconotus

Ibises and spoonbills[edit]

Southern bald ibis

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Threskiornithidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Glossy ibis Plegadis falcinellus
African sacred ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus
Southern bald ibis Geronticus calvus SLE endemic (see note);[notes 4] vulnerable
Hadada ibis Bostrychia hagedash
African spoonbill Platalea alba



Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Sagittariidae

The secretarybird is a bird of prey easily distinguished from other raptors by its long crane-like legs.

Common name Binomial Status
Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius Endangered


Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Pandionidae

The family Pandionidae contains only one species, the osprey. The osprey is a medium-large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.

Common name Binomial Status
Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Hawks, eagles, and kites[edit]

African marsh-harrier

Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Accipitridae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Black-winged kite Elanus caeruleus
African harrier-hawk Polyboroides typus
Palm-nut vulture Gypohierax angolensis
Bearded vulture Gypaetus barbatus Near threatened
Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus Vagrant; endangered
European honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus
Oriental honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus Vagrant
African cuckoo-hawk Aviceda cuculoides
White-headed vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis Critically endangered
Lappet-faced vulture Torgos tracheliotos Endangered
Hooded vulture Necrosyrtes monachus Critically endangered
White-backed vulture Gyps africanus Critically endangered
Rüppell's griffon Gyps rueppelli Vagrant; critically endangered
Cape griffon Gyps coprotheres Endangered
Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus Near threatened
Black-chested snake-eagle Circaetus pectoralis
Brown snake-eagle Circaetus cinereus
Fasciated snake-eagle Circaetus fasciolatus Near threatened
Banded snake-eagle Circaetus cinerascens Vagrant
Bat hawk Macheiramphus alcinus
Crowned eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus Near threatened
Martial eagle Polemaetus bellicosus Vulnerable
Long-crested eagle Lophaetus occipitalis
Lesser spotted eagle Clanga pomarina
Wahlberg's eagle Hieraaetus wahlbergi
Booted eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
Ayres's hawk-eagle Hieraaetus ayresii
Tawny eagle Aquila rapax
Steppe eagle Aquila nipalensis Endangered
Verreaux's eagle Aquila verreauxii
African hawk-eagle Aquila spilogaster
Lizard buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus
Dark chanting-goshawk Melierax metabates
Pale chanting-goshawk Melierax canorus
Gabar goshawk Micronisus gabar
Eurasian marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus
African marsh-harrier Circus ranivorus
Black harrier Circus maurus Endangered
Pallid harrier Circus macrourus Near threatened
Montagu's harrier Circus pygargus
African goshawk Accipiter tachiro
Shikra Accipiter badius
Little sparrowhawk Accipiter minullus
Ovambo sparrowhawk Accipiter ovampensis
Rufous-breasted sparrowhawk Accipiter rufiventris
Black goshawk Accipiter melanoleucus
Black kite Milvus migrans
Yellow-billed kite Milvus aegyptius See notes below[notes 5][notes 6]
African fish-eagle Haliaeetus vocifer
Common buzzard Buteo buteo
Forest buzzard Buteo trizonatus SLE endemic (see note);[notes 7] near threatened
Long-legged buzzard Buteo rufinus Vagrant
Red-necked buzzard Buteo auguralis Vagrant
Augur buzzard Buteo augur Vagrant
Jackal buzzard Buteo rufofuscus


Order: Strigiformes   Family: Tytonidae

Barn-owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons.

Common name Binomial Status
African grass-owl Tyto capensis
Barn owl Tyto alba


Order: Strigiformes   Family: Strigidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
African scops-owl Otus senegalensis
Southern white-faced owl Ptilopsis granti
Cape eagle-owl Bubo capensis
Spotted eagle-owl Bubo africanus
Verreaux's eagle-owl Bubo lacteus
Pel's fishing-owl Scotopelia peli
Pearl-spotted owlet Glaucidium perlatum
African barred owlet Glaucidium capense
African wood-owl Strix woodfordii
Marsh owl Asio capensis


Order: Coliiformes   Family: Coliidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Speckled mousebird Colius striatus
White-backed mousebird Colius colius
Red-faced mousebird Urocolius indicus


Order: Trogoniformes   Family: Trogonidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Narina trogon Apaloderma narina


Order: Bucerotiformes   Family: Upupidae

Hoopoes have black, white, and orangey-pink colouring with a large erectile crest on their head.

Common name Binomial Status
Hoopoe Upupa africana

Woodhoopoes and scimitarbills[edit]

Order: Bucerotiformes   Family: Phoeniculidae

The woodhoopoes are related to the hoopoes, hornbills, and ground-hornbills. 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.

Common name Binomial Status
Green woodhoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus
Common scimitarbill Rhinopomastus cyanomelas


Southern ground-hornbill

Order: Bucerotiformes   Family: Bucorvidae

The ground-hornbills are terrestrial birds which feed almost entirely on insects, other birds, snakes, and amphibians.

Common name Binomial Status
Southern ground-hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri Vulnerable


Order: Bucerotiformes   Family: Bucerotidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Crowned hornbill Lophoceros alboterminatus
African grey hornbill Lophoceros nasutus
Southern yellow-billed hornbill Tockus leucomelas
Southern red-billed hornbill Tockus rufirostris
Trumpeter hornbill Bycanistes bucinator


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Alcedinidae

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails.

Common name Binomial Status
Half-collared kingfisher Alcedo semitorquata
Malachite kingfisher Corythornis cristatus
African pygmy kingfisher Ispidina picta
Gray-headed kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala
Woodland kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis
Mangrove kingfisher Halcyon senegaloides
Brown-hooded kingfisher Halcyon albiventris
Striped kingfisher Halcyon chelicuti
Giant kingfisher Megaceryle maxima
Pied kingfisher Ceryle rudis


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Meropidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
White-fronted bee-eater Merops bullockoides
Little bee-eater Merops pusillus
Swallow-tailed bee-eater Merops hirundineus
White-throated bee-eater Merops albicollis Vagrant
Blue-cheeked bee-eater Merops persicus
Madagascar bee-eater Merops superciliosus Vagrant
European bee-eater Merops apiaster
Southern carmine bee-eater Merops nubicoides


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Coraciidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
European roller Coracias garrulus
Lilac-breasted roller Coracias caudatus
Racket-tailed roller Coracias spatulatus Vagrant
Rufous-crowned roller Coracias naevius
Broad-billed roller Eurystomus glaucurus

African barbets[edit]

Order: Piciformes   Family: Lybiidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Crested barbet Trachyphonus vaillantii
White-eared barbet Stactolaema leucotis
Green barbet Stactolaema olivacea
Yellow-rumped tinkerbird Pogoniulus bilineatus
Red-fronted tinkerbird Pogoniulus pusillus
Yellow-fronted tinkerbird Pogoniulus chrysoconus
Pied barbet Tricholaema leucomelas
Black-collared barbet Lybius torquatus


Order: Piciformes   Family: Indicatoridae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Wahlberg's honeyguide Prodotiscus regulus
Lesser honeyguide Indicator minor
Scaly-throated honeyguide Indicator variegatus
Greater honeyguide Indicator indicator


Ground woodpecker

Order: Piciformes   Family: Picidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Rufous-necked wryneck Jynx ruficollis
Cardinal woodpecker Chloropicus fuscescens
Bearded woodpecker Chloropicus namaquus
Olive woodpecker Chloropicus griseocephalus
Ground woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus SLE endemic; near threatened
Bennett's woodpecker Campethera bennettii
Knysna woodpecker Campethera notata (see note);[notes 8] near threatened
Golden-tailed woodpecker Campethera abingoni

Falcons and caracaras[edit]

Order: Falconiformes   Family: Falconidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Pygmy falcon Polihierax semitorquatus
Lesser kestrel Falco naumanni Vulnerable
Rock kestrel Falco rupicolus
Greater kestrel Falco rupicoloides
Dickinson's kestrel Falco dickinsoni
Red-necked falcon Falco chicquera
Red-footed falcon Falco vespertinus Near threatened ; winter migrant
Amur falcon Falco amurensis winter migrant
Eleonora's falcon Falco eleonorae Vagrant
Sooty falcon Falco concolor Near threatened
Eurasian hobby Falco subbuteo
African hobby Falco cuvierii Vagrant
Lanner falcon Falco biarmicus
Peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus
Taita falcon Falco fasciinucha Vulnerable

Old World parrots[edit]

Order: Psittaciformes   Family: Psittaculidae

Characteristic features of parrots include a strong curved bill, an upright stance, strong legs, and clawed zygodactyl feet. Many parrots are vividly coloured, and some are multi-coloured. In size they range from 8 cm (3.1 in) to 1 m (3.3 ft) in length. Old World parrots are found from Africa east across south and southeast Asia and Oceania to Australia and New Zealand.

Common name Binomial Status
Rose-ringed parakeet Psittacula krameri Introduced
Rosy-faced lovebird Agapornis roseicollis

African and New World parrots[edit]

Order: Psittaciformes   Family: Psittacidae

Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and they have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two to the back. Most of the more than 150 species in this family are found in the New World.

Common name Binomial Status
Brown-necked parrot Poicephalus fuscicollis
Cape parrot Poicephalus robustus Endemic; vulnerable
Meyer's parrot Poicephalus meyeri
Brown-headed parrot Poicephalus cryptoxanthus

African and green broadbills[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Calyptomenidae

The broadbills are small, brightly coloured birds which feed on fruit and also take insects in flycatcher fashion, snapping their broad bills. Their habitat is canopies of wet forests.

Common name Binomial Status
African broadbill Smithornis capensis


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Pittidae

Pittas are medium-sized by passerine standards and are stocky, with fairly long, strong legs, short tails, and stout bills. Many are brightly coloured. They spend the majority of their time on wet forest floors, eating snails, insects, and similar invertebrates.

Common name Binomial Status
African pitta Pitta angolensis Vagrant


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Campephagidae

The cuckooshrikes are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are predominantly greyish with white and black, although some species are brightly coloured.

Common name Binomial Status
Gray cuckooshrike Coracina caesia
White-breasted cuckooshrike Coracina pectoralis
Black cuckooshrike Campephaga flava

Old world orioles[edit]

Black-headed oriole

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Oriolidae

The Old World orioles are colourful passerine birds. They are not related to the New World orioles though they appear similar.

Common name Binomial Status
Eurasian golden oriole Oriolus oriolus
African golden oriole Oriolus auratus
African black-headed oriole Oriolus larvatus

Wattle-eyes and batises[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Platysteiridae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Black-throated wattle-eye Platysteira peltata
Cape batis Batis capensis
Woodward's batis Batis fratrum
Chinspot batis Batis molitor
Pririt batis Batis pririt

Vangas, helmetshrikes, and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Vangidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
White helmetshrike Prionops plumatus
Retz's helmetshrike Prionops retzii
Chestnut-fronted helmetshrike Prionops scopifrons Vagrant
Black-and-white shrike-flycatcher Bias musicus Vagrant

Bushshrikes and allies[edit]

Four-coloured bushshrike

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Malaconotidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Brubru Nilaus afer
Black-backed puffback Dryoscopus cubla
Black-crowned tchagra Tchagra senegalus
Brown-crowned tchagra Tchagra australis
Southern tchagra Tchagra tchagra
Tropical boubou Laniarius major
Southern boubou Laniarius ferrugineus
Crimson-breasted gonolek Laniarius atrococcineus
Bokmakierie Telophorus zeylonus
Sulphur-breasted bushshrike Telophorus sulfureopectus
Olive bushshrike Telophorus olivaceus
Black-fronted bushshrike Telophorus nigrifrons
Four-coloured bushshrike Telophorus viridis
Gray-headed bushshrike Malaconotus blanchoti


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Dicruridae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Common square-tailed drongo Dicrurus ludwigii
Fork-tailed drongo Dicrurus adsimilis

Monarch flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Monarchidae

The monarch flycatchers are small to medium-sized insectivorous passerines which hunt by flycatching.

Common name Binomial Status
African crested-flycatcher Trochocercus cyanomelas
African paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Laniidae

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 shrike's beak is hooked, like that of a typical bird of prey.

Common name Binomial Status
Red-backed shrike Lanius collurio
Lesser grey shrike Lanius minor winter migrant
Magpie shrike Lanius melanoleucus
Southern fiscal Lanius collaris
White-crowned shrike Eurocephalus anguitimens

Crows, jays, and magpies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Corvidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
House crow Corvus splendens Introduced
Cape crow Corvus capensis
Pied crow Corvus albus
White-necked raven Corvus albicollis


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Chaetopidae

These two species are the only ones in their family. They are primarily insectivores, but cape rockjumpers also eat small vertebrates.

Common name Binomial Status
Cape rockjumper Chaetops frenatus Endemic; near threatened
Drakensberg rockjumper Chaetops aurantius SLE endemic; near threatened


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Hyliotidae

The members of this small family, all of genus Hyliota, are birds of the forest canopy. They tend to feed in mixed-species flocks.

Common name Binomial Status
Southern hyliota Hyliota australis Vagrant

Fairy flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Stenostiridae

Most of the species of this small family are found in Africa, though a few inhabit tropical Asia. They are not closely related to other birds called "flycatchers".

Common name Binomial Status
Fairy flycatcher Stenostira scita

Tits, chickadees, and titmice[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Paridae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Southern black-tit Melaniparus niger
Ashy tit Melaniparus cinerascens
Gray tit Melaniparus afer


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Remizidae

The penduline-tits are a group of small passerine birds related to the true tits. They are insectivores.

Common name Binomial Status
African penduline-tit Anthoscopus caroli
Southern penduline-tit Anthoscopus minutus


Rufous-naped lark

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Alaudidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Spike-heeled lark Chersomanes albofasciata
Short-clawed lark Certhilauda chuana
Karoo long-billed lark Certhilauda subcoronata
Eastern long-billed lark Certhilauda semitorquata SLE endemic (see note)[notes 9]
Cape lark Certhilauda curvirostris Endemic (see note)[notes 10]
Dusky lark Pinarocorys nigricans
Black-eared sparrow-lark Eremopterix australis
Chestnut-backed sparrow-lark Eremopterix leucotis
Gray-backed sparrow-lark Eremopterix verticalis
Sabota lark Calendulauda sabota
Fawn-coloured lark Calendulauda africanoides
Karoo lark Calendulauda albescens Endemic
Red lark Calendulauda burra Endemic; vulnerable
Barlow's lark Calendulauda barlowi
Rudd's lark Heteromirafra ruddi Endemic; endangered
Cape clapper lark Mirafra apiata
Eastern clapper lark Mirafra fasciolata
Rufous-naped lark Mirafra africana
Flappet lark Mirafra rufocinnamomea
Monotonous lark Mirafra passerina
Latakoo lark Mirafra cheniana
Red-capped lark Calandrella cinerea
Stark's lark Spizocorys starki
Sclater's lark Spizocorys sclateri Near threatened
Pink-billed lark Spizocorys conirostris
Botha's lark Spizocorys fringillaris Endemic; endangered
Large-billed lark Galerida magnirostris


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Nicatoridae

The nicators are shrike-like, with hooked bills. They are endemic to sub-Saharan Africa.

Common name Binomial Status
Eastern nicator Nicator gularis

African warblers[edit]

Cape crombec

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Macrosphenidae

African warblers are small to medium-sized insectivores which are found in a wide variety of habitats south of the Sahara.

Common name Binomial Status
Cape crombec Sylvietta rufescens
Cape grassbird Sphenoeacus afer
Victorin's warbler Cryptillas victorini Endemic

Cisticolas and allies[edit]

Drakensberg prinia

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cisticolidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Yellow-bellied eremomela Eremomela icteropygialis
Greencap eremomela Eremomela scotops
Yellow-rumped eremomela Eremomela gregalis
Burnt-neck eremomela Eremomela usticollis
Namaqua warbler Phragmacia substriata
Stierling's wren-warbler Calamonastes stierlingi
Barred wren-warbler Calamonastes fasciolatus
Green-backed camaroptera Camaroptera brachyura
Bar-throated apalis Apalis thoracica
Yellow-breasted apalis Apalis flavida
Rudd's apalis Apalis ruddi
Tawny-flanked prinia Prinia subflava
Black-chested prinia Prinia flavicans
Karoo prinia Prinia maculosa
Drakensberg prinia Prinia hypoxantha SLE endemic
Kopje warbler Euryptila subcinnamomea
Rufous-eared warbler Malcorus pectoralis
Red-faced cisticola Cisticola erythrops
Rock-loving cisticola Cisticola aberrans
Rattling cisticola Cisticola chiniana
Tinkling cisticola Cisticola rufilatus
Red-headed cisticola Cisticola subruficapilla
Wailing cisticola Cisticola lais
Rufous-winged cisticola Cisticola galactotes
Levaillant's cisticola Cisticola tinniens
Croaking cisticola Cisticola natalensis
Piping cisticola Cisticola fulvicapilla
Zitting cisticola Cisticola juncidis
Desert cisticola Cisticola aridulus
Cloud cisticola Cisticola textrix
Pale-crowned cisticola Cisticola cinnamomeus
Wing-snapping cisticola Cisticola ayresii

Reed warblers and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Acrocephalidae

The members of this family are usually rather large for "warblers". Most are rather plain olivaceous brown above with much yellow to beige below. They are usually found in open woodland, reedbeds, or tall grass. The family occurs mostly in southern to western Eurasia and surroundings, but it also ranges far into the Pacific, with some species in Africa.

Common name Binomial Status
African yellow-warbler Iduna natalensis
Upcher's warbler Hippolais languida Vagrant
Olive-tree warbler Hippolais olivetorum winter migrant
Icterine warbler Hippolais icterina
Sedge warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Marsh warbler Acrocephalus palustris winter migrant
Common reed warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Basra reed warbler Acrocephalus griseldis Vagrant
Lesser swamp warbler Acrocephalus gracilirostris
Great reed warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus

Grassbirds and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Locustellidae

Locustellidae are a family of small insectivorous songbirds found mainly in Eurasia, Africa, and the Australian region. They are smallish birds with tails that are usually long and pointed, and tend to be drab brownish or buffy all over.

Common name Binomial Status
River warbler Locustella fluviatilis
Fan-tailed grassbird Catriscus brevirostris
Knysna warbler Bradypterus sylvaticus Endemic; vulnerable
Barratt's warbler Bradypterus barratti
Little rush warbler Bradypterus baboecala


South African swallow

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Hirundinidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Plain martin Riparia paludicola
Bank swallow Riparia riparia
Banded martin Neophedina cincta
Mascarene martin Phedina borbonica Vagrant
Rock martin Ptyonoprogne fuligula
Barn swallow Hirundo rustica
White-throated swallow Hirundo albigularis
Wire-tailed swallow Hirundo smithii
Pearl-breasted swallow Hirundo dimidiata
Montane blue swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea Vulnerable
Greater striped swallow Cecropis cucullata
Red-rumped swallow Cecropis daurica Vagrant
Lesser striped swallow Cecropis abyssinica
Rufous-chested swallow Cecropis semirufa
Mosque swallow Cecropis senegalensis
South African swallow Petrochelidon spilodera
Common house-martin Delichon urbicum
Black sawwing Psalidoprocne pristoptera
Gray-rumped swallow Pseudhirundo griseopyga


Sombre greenbul

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Pycnonotidae

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 name Binomial Status
Sombre greenbul Andropadus importunus
Yellow-bellied greenbul Chlorocichla flaviventris
Terrestrial brownbul Phyllastrephus terrestris
Yellow-streaked greenbul Phyllastrephus flavostriatus
Common bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus
Black-fronted bulbul Pycnonotus nigricans
Cape bulbul Pycnonotus capensis Endemic

Leaf warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Phylloscopidae

Leaf warblers are a family of small insectivorous birds found mostly in Eurasia and ranging into Wallacea and Africa. The species are of various sizes, often green-plumaged above and yellow below, or more subdued with greyish-green to greyish-brown colours.

Common name Binomial Status
Wood warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix Vagrant
Willow warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Yellow-throated woodland-warbler Phylloscopus ruficapillus

Sylviid warblers, parrotbills, and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sylviidae

The family Sylviidae ("Old World warblers") is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. They mainly occur as breeding species, as one common name implies, in Europe, Asia, and, to a lesser extent, Africa. Most are of generally undistinguished appearance, but many have distinctive songs.

Common name Binomial Status
Eurasian blackcap Sylvia atricapilla Vagrant
Garden warbler Sylvia borin
Bush blackcap Sylvia nigricapillus vulnerable
Barred warbler Curruca nisoria Vagrant
Layard's warbler Curruca layardi
Chestnut-vented warbler Curruca subcoerulea
Lesser whitethroat Curruca curruca Vagrant
Greater whitethroat Curruca communis

White-eyes, yuhinas, and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Zosteropidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Orange River white-eye Zosterops pallidus
Cape white-eye Zosterops virens
Southern yellow white-eye Zosterops anderssoni

Laughingthrushes and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Leiothrichidae

The members of this family are diverse in size and colouration, though those of genus Turdoides tend to be brown or greyish. The family is found in Africa, India, and southeast Asia.

Common name Binomial Status
Arrow-marked babbler Turdoides jardineii
Southern pied-babbler Turdoides bicolor


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Certhiidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
African spotted creeper Salpornis salvadori Vagrant


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Buphagidae

As both the English and scientific names of these birds imply, they feed on ectoparasites, primarily ticks, found on large mammals.

Common name Binomial Status
Red-billed oxpecker Buphagus erythrorynchus
Yellow-billed oxpecker Buphagus africanus


Red-winged starling

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sturnidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
European starling Sturnus vulgaris Introduced
Wattled starling Creatophora cinerea
Rosy starling Pastor roseus Vagrant
Common myna Acridotheres tristis Introduced
Violet-backed starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster
Pale-winged starling Onychognathus nabouroup
Red-winged starling Onychognathus morio
Black-bellied starling Notopholia corusca
Burchell's starling Lamprotornis australis
Meves's starling Lamprotornis mevesii
African pied starling Lamprotornis bicolor SLE endemic (see note)[notes 11]
Lesser blue-eared starling Lamprotornis chloropterus Vagrant
Greater blue-eared starling Lamprotornis chalybaeus
Cape starling Lamprotornis nitens

Thrushes and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Turdidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Spotted ground-thrush Geokichla guttata Endangered
Orange ground-thrush Geokichla gurneyi
Groundscraper thrush Turdus litsitsirupa
Kurrichane thrush Turdus libonyana
Olive thrush Turdus olivaceus
Karoo thrush Turdus smithi

Old World flycatchers[edit]

Buff-streaked bushchat

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Muscicapidae

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 name Binomial Status
African dusky flycatcher Muscicapa adusta
Spotted flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Mariqua flycatcher Bradornis mariquensis
Pale flycatcher Agricola pallidus
Chat flycatcher Agricola infuscatus
Gray tit-flycatcher Fraseria plumbea
Ashy flycatcher Fraseria caerulescens
Fiscal flycatcher Melaenornis silens
Southern black-flycatcher Melaenornis pammelaina
Karoo scrub-robin Cercotrichas coryphoeus
Brown scrub-robin Cercotrichas signata
Bearded scrub-robin Cercotrichas quadrivirgata
Rufous-tailed scrub-robin Cercotrichas galactotes Vagrant
Kalahari scrub-robin Cercotrichas paena
Red-backed scrub-robin Cercotrichas leucophrys
Cape robin-chat Cossypha caffra
White-throated robin-chat Cossypha humeralis
White-browed robin-chat Cossypha heuglini
Red-capped robin-chat Cossypha natalensis
Chorister robin-chat Cossypha dichroa
Collared palm-thrush Cichladusa arquata Vagrant
White-starred robin Pogonocichla stellata
White-throated robin Irania gutturalis Vagrant
Thrush nightingale Luscinia luscinia Vagrant
European pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca Vagrant
Collared flycatcher Ficedula albicollis Vagrant
Common redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus Vagrant
Short-toed rock-thrush Monticola brevipes
Sentinel rock-thrush Monticola explorator near threatened
Cape rock-thrush Monticola rupestris SLE endemic (see note)[notes 12]
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra Vagrant
African stonechat Saxicola torquatus
Buff-streaked chat Campicoloides bifasciatus
Sickle-winged chat Emarginata sinuata
Karoo chat Emarginata schlegelii
Tractrac chat Emarginata tractrac
Mocking cliff-chat Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris
Southern anteater-chat Myrmecocichla formicivora
Mountain wheatear Myrmecocichla monticola
Arnot's chat Myrmecocichla arnotti
Northern wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe Vagrant
Capped wheatear Oenanthe pileata
Pied wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka Vagrant
Familiar chat Oenanthe familiaris
Boulder chat Pinarornis plumosus Vagrant


Gurney's sugarbird

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Promeropidae

The two species in this family are restricted to southern Africa. They have brownish plumage, a long downcurved bill, and long tail feathers.

Common name Binomial Status
Gurney's sugarbird Promerops gurneyi Near-threatened
Cape sugarbird Promerops cafer endemic

Sunbirds and spiderhunters[edit]

Southern double-collared sunbird

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Nectariniidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Plain-backed sunbird Anthreptes reichenowi Vagrant
Collared sunbird Hedydipna collaris
Orange-breasted sunbird Anthobaphes violacea Endemic
Olive sunbird Cyanomitra olivacea
Mouse-colored sunbird Cyanomitra veroxii
Amethyst sunbird Chalcomitra amethystina
Scarlet-chested sunbird Chalcomitra senegalensis
Malachite sunbird Nectarinia famosa
Southern double-collared sunbird Cinnyris chalybeus
Neergaard's sunbird Cinnyris neergaardi Near threatened
Greater double-collared sunbird Cinnyris afer SLE endemic
Mariqua sunbird Cinnyris mariquensis
Purple-banded sunbird Cinnyris bifasciatus
White-breasted sunbird Cinnyris talatala
Variable sunbird Cinnyris venustus Vagrant
Dusky sunbird Cinnyris fuscus

Weavers and allies[edit]

Spectacled weaver

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Ploceidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Red-billed buffalo-weaver Bubalornis niger
Scaly weaver Sporopipes squamifrons
White-browed sparrow-weaver Plocepasser mahali
Sociable weaver Philetairus socius
Red-headed weaver Anaplectes rubriceps
Spectacled weaver Ploceus ocularis
Cape weaver Ploceus capensis Endemic
African golden-weaver Ploceus subaureus
Holub's golden-weaver Ploceus xanthops
Southern brown-throated weaver Ploceus xanthopterus
Lesser masked-weaver Ploceus intermedius
Southern masked-weaver Ploceus velatus
Village weaver Ploceus cucullatus
Chestnut weaver Ploceus rubiginosus Vagrant
Forest weaver Ploceus bicolor
Red-headed quelea Quelea erythrops
Red-billed quelea Quelea quelea
Southern red bishop Euplectes orix
Yellow-crowned bishop Euplectes afer
Yellow bishop Euplectes capensis
White-winged widowbird Euplectes albonotatus
Red-collared widowbird Euplectes ardens
Fan-tailed widowbird Euplectes axillaris
Long-tailed widowbird Euplectes progne
Grosbeak weaver Amblyospiza albifrons

Waxbills and allies[edit]

Southern cordonbleu

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Estrildidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Bronze mannikin Spermestes cucullata
Magpie mannikin Spermestes fringilloides
Black-and-white mannikin Spermestes bicolor (see note)[notes 13]
Swee waxbill Coccopygia melanotis
Green-backed twinspot Mandingoa nitidula
Black-faced waxbill Brunhilda erythronotos
Black-tailed waxbill Glaucestrilda perreini
Common waxbill Estrilda astrild
Quailfinch Ortygospiza atricollis
Cut-throat Amadina fasciata
Red-headed finch Amadina erythrocephala
Zebra waxbill Amandava subflava
Violet-eared waxbill Uraeginthus granatina
Southern cordonbleu Uraeginthus angolensis
Green-winged pytilia Pytilia melba
Orange-winged pytilia Pytilia afra
Peters's twinspot Hypargos niveoguttatus
Pink-throated twinspot Hypargos margaritatus
Red-billed firefinch Lagonosticta senegala
African firefinch Lagonosticta rubricata
Jameson's firefinch Lagonosticta rhodopareia


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Viduidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Pin-tailed whydah Vidua macroura
Broad-tailed paradise-whydah Vidua obtusa Vagrant
Eastern paradise-whydah Vidua paradisaea
Shaft-tailed whydah Vidua regia
Village indigobird Vidua chalybeata
Wilson's indigobird Vidua wilsoni
Variable indigobird Vidua funerea
Purple indigobird Vidua purpurascens
Parasitic weaver Anomalospiza imberbis

Old World sparrows[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Passeridae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
House sparrow Passer domesticus Introduced
Great rufous sparrow Passer motitensis
Cape sparrow Passer melanurus
Southern gray-headed sparrow Passer diffusus
Yellow-throated bush sparrow Gymnoris superciliaris

Wagtails and pipits[edit]

Orange-throated longclaw

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Motacillidae

Motacillidae is a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They are slender ground-feeding insectivores of open country.

Common name Binomial Status
Cape wagtail Motacilla capensis
Mountain wagtail Motacilla clara
Gray wagtail Motacilla cinerea Vagrant
Western yellow wagtail Motacilla flava
Citrine wagtail Motacilla citreola Vagrant
African pied wagtail Motacilla aguimp
White wagtail Motacilla alba Vagrant
African pipit Anthus cinnamomeus
Mountain pipit Anthus hoeschi near threatened
Nicholson's pipit Anthus nicholsoni
Plain-backed pipit Anthus leucophrys
Buffy pipit Anthus vaalensis
Striped pipit Anthus lineiventris
Yellow-tufted pipit Anthus crenatus SLE endemic
Tree pipit Anthus trivialis Vagrant
Red-throated pipit Anthus cervinus Vagrant
Short-tailed pipit Anthus brachyurus
Bush pipit Anthus caffer
Golden pipit Tmetothylacus tenellus Vagrant
Yellow-breasted pipit Hemimacronyx chloris Endemic (see note),[notes 14] vulnerable
Orange-throated longclaw Macronyx capensis
Yellow-throated longclaw Macronyx croceus
Rosy-throated longclaw Macronyx ameliae

Finches, euphonias, and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Fringillidae

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.

Common name Binomial Status
Common chaffinch Fringilla coelebs Introduced
Yellow-fronted canary Crithagra mozambica
Forest canary Crithagra scotops SLS endemic
Black-throated canary Crithagra atrogularis
Lemon-breasted seedeater Crithagra citrinipectus
Brimstone canary Crithagra sulphurata
Yellow canary Crithagra flaviventris
White-throated canary Crithagra albogularis
Protea canary Crithagra leucoptera Endemic; near threatened
Black-eared seedeater Crithagra mennelli
Streaky-headed seedeater Crithagra gularis
Cape siskin Crithagra totta Endemic
Drakensberg siskin Crithagra symonsi SLS endemic
Cape canary Serinus canicollis
Black-headed canary Serinus alario

Old World buntings[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Emberizidae

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. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns.

Common name Binomial Status
Ortolan bunting Emberiza hortulana Vagrant
Golden-breasted bunting Emberiza flaviventris
Cape bunting Emberiza capensis
Lark-like bunting Emberiza impetuani
Cinnamon-breasted bunting Emberiza tahapisi


  1. ^ Clements lists this species as endemic
  2. ^ Clements lists this species as endemic to South Africa alone
  3. ^ Subspecies L. d. vetula is a resident breeder, sometimes called the Cape gull.
  4. ^ Clements lists this species as endemic to South Africa alone
  5. ^ Considered a subspecies of the preceding species by Clements; deemed a full species by BLSA
  6. ^ Johnson JA, Richard T. Watson and David P. Mindell (2005). "Prioritizing species conservation: does the Cape Verde kite exist?" (PDF). Proc. R. Soc. B. 272 (1570): 1365–1371. doi:10.1098/rspb.2005.3098. PMC 1560339. PMID 16006325. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 December 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2011. This mitochondrial study of Milvus kites, employing three genes, determined that the black kite (Milvus m. migrans) of the Eurasian clade differs significantly from the allopatric yellow-billed kite, where the latter could be further subdivided into two groups: those from southern Africa and Madagascar differing from those in central, west and east Africa. These taxa are all distinct, though near-related as in the Eurasian clade. The study revealed besides that the two yellow-billed kite taxa could potentially be assigned species status. In such a three-way split the yellow-billed kite of southern Africa would be named M. parasitus.
  7. ^ Clements lists this species as endemic to South Africa alone
  8. ^ Clements lists this species as endemic
  9. ^ Clements lists this species as endemic to South Africa alone
  10. ^ Clements lists this species as also inhabiting Namibia
  11. ^ Clements lists this species as inhabiting several other countries as well
  12. ^ Clements lists this species as also inhabiting Botswana and Mozambique
  13. ^ BLSA considers the red-backed subspecies, S. b. nigriceps, to be a full species
  14. ^ Clements lists this species as also inhabiting Lesotho, making it SLE endemic


  1. ^ Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from Retrieved 1 November 2022
  2. ^ "BirdLife South Africa Checklist of Birds in South Africa 2020". 2020. Retrieved 23 May 2020.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]