List of birds of Swaziland
This is a list of the bird species recorded in Swaziland. The avifauna of Swaziland include a total of 507 species, of which four have been introduced by humans and 52 are rare or accidental. Three species listed are extirpated in Swaziland and are not included in the species count. Eleven species are globally threatened.
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. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total counts for Swaziland.
The following tags have been used to highlight several categories. The commonly occurring native species do not fall into any of these categories.
- (A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in Swaziland
- (I) Introduced - a species introduced to Swaziland as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions
- (Ex) Extirpated - a species that no longer occurs in Swaziland although populations exist elsewhere
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.
- Ostrich, Struthio camelus (I)
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 3 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Little grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis
- Great crested grebe, Podiceps cristatus (A)
- Black-necked grebe, Podiceps nigricollis (A)
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.
Darters are often called "snake-birds" because of their long thin neck, which gives a snake-like appearance when they swim with their bodies submerged. The males have black and dark-brown plumage, an erectile crest on the nape and a larger bill than the female. The females have much paler plumage especially on the neck and underparts. The darters have completely webbed feet and their legs are short and set far back on the body. Their plumage is somewhat permeable, like that of cormorants, and they spread their wings to dry after diving.
- African darter, Anhinga rufa
Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under their beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes.
Bitterns, herons and egrets
The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted, unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills.
- Grey heron, Ardea cinerea
- Black-headed heron, Ardea melanocephala
- Goliath heron, Ardea goliath
- Purple heron, Ardea purpurea
- Great egret, Ardea alba
- Black heron, Egretta ardesiaca (A)
- Intermediate egret, Egretta intermedia
- Little egret, Egretta garzetta
- Squacco heron, Ardeola ralloides (A)
- Rufous-bellied heron, Ardeola rufiventris (A)
- Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis
- Striated heron, Butorides striata
- Black-crowned night-heron, Nycticorax nycticorax
- White-backed night-heron, Gorsachius leuconotus
- Dwarf bittern, Ixobrychus sturmii
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
- Bald ibis, Geronticus calvus
- Hadada ibis, Bostrychia hagedash
- Glossy ibis, Plegadis falcinellus
- African spoonbill, Platalea alba
Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked, wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks are mute, but bill-clattering is an important mode of communication at the nest. Their nests can be large and may be reused for many years. Many species are migratory. There are 8 species which occur in Swaziland.
- 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 Swaziland.
Ducks, geese and swans
Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These birds are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating.
- Fulvous whistling duck, Dendrocygna bicolor
- White-faced whistling duck, Dendrocygna viduata
- White-backed duck, Thalassornis leuconotus
- Egyptian goose, Alopochen aegyptiacus
- Spur-winged goose, Plectropterus gambensis
- Comb duck, Sarkidiornis melanotos
- African pygmy goose, Nettapus auritus
- African black duck, Anas sparsa
- Cape teal, Anas capensis (A)
- Yellow-billed duck, Anas undulata
- Red-billed duck, Anas erythrorhyncha
- Hottentot teal, Anas hottentota (A)
- Cape shoveler, Anas smithii (A)
- Southern pochard, Netta erythrophthalma
- Maccoa duck, Oxyura maccoa (A)
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
Eagles, kites and allies
Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey, which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons and keen eyesight.
- African cuckoo-hawk, Aviceda cuculoides
- Black-shouldered kite, Elanus caeruleus
- Black kite, Milvus migrans (A)
- Yellow-billed kite, Milvus aegyptius
- African fish eagle, Haliaeetus vocifer
- Hooded vulture, Necrosyrtes monachus (A)
- White-backed vulture, Gyps africanus
- Cape griffon, Gyps coprotheres
- Lappet-faced vulture, Torgos tracheliotos
- White-headed vulture, Trigonoceps occipitalis
- Black-breasted snake eagle, Circaetus pectoralis
- Brown snake eagle, Circaetus cinereus
- Bateleur, Terathopius ecaudatus
- African marsh-harrier, Circus ranivorus
- Black harrier, Circus maurus (A)
- Montagu's harrier, Circus pygargus (A)
- African harrier-hawk, Polyboroides typus
- Lizard buzzard, Kaupifalco monogrammicus
- Dark chanting goshawk, Melierax metabates (A)
- Gabar goshawk, Micronisus gabar
- African goshawk, Accipiter tachiro
- Shikra, Accipiter badius
- Little sparrowhawk, Accipiter minullus
- Ovampo sparrowhawk, Accipiter ovampensis
- Rufous-chested sparrowhawk, Accipiter rufiventris
- Black goshawk, Accipiter melanoleucus
- Common buzzard, Buteo buteo
- Jackal buzzard, Buteo rufofuscus
- Lesser spotted eagle, Clanga pomarina (A)
- Tawny eagle, Aquila rapax
- Steppe eagle, Aquila nipalensis
- Verreaux's eagle, Aquila verreauxii
- African hawk-eagle, Aquila spilogaster
- Wahlberg's eagle, Hieraaetus wahlbergi
- Booted eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus
- Martial eagle, Polemaetus bellicosus
- Long-crested eagle, Lophaetus occipitalis
- Crowned hawk-eagle, Stephanoaetus coronatus
The secretarybird is a bird of prey in the order Accipitriformes but is easily distinguished from other raptors by its long crane-like legs.
- Secretarybird, Sagittarius serpentarius
Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their talons.
- Lesser kestrel, Falco naumanni (A)
- Rock kestrel, Falco rupicolus
- Red-footed falcon, Falco vespertinus (A)
- Amur falcon, Falco amurensis
- Eurasian hobby, Falco subbuteo
- Lanner falcon, Falco biarmicus
- Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus
Pheasants and partridges
The Phasianidae are a family of terrestrial birds which consists of quails, partridges, 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. There are 10 species which have been recorded in Swaziland.
- Coqui francolin, Peliperdix coqui
- Crested francolin, Dendroperdix sephaena
- Red-winged francolin, Scleroptila levaillantii
- Shelley's francolin, Scleroptila shelleyi
- Natal spurfowl, Pternistis natalensis
- Red-necked spurfowl, Pternistis afer
- Swainson's spurfowl, Pternistis swainsonii
- Common quail, Coturnix coturnix
- Harlequin quail, Coturnix delegorguei
- Blue quail, Excalfactoria adansonii (A)
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 Swaziland.
- 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 Swaziland.
- Grey crowned crane, Balearica regulorum
- Blue crane, Grus paradisea
- Wattled crane, Bugeranus carunculatus (Ex)
- Buff-spotted flufftail, Sarothrura elegans
- Red-chested flufftail, Sarothrura rufa
- Striped flufftail, Sarothrura affinis
- White-winged flufftail, Sarothrura ayresi (A)
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.
- African rail, Rallus caerulescens
- African crake, Crecopsis egregia
- Corn crake, Crex crex
- Black crake, Amaurornis flavirostris
- Baillon's crake, Porzana pusilla (A)
- African swamphen, Porphyrio madagascariensis
- Allen's gallinule, Porphyrio alleni (A)
- Common moorhen, Gallinula chloropus
- Lesser moorhen, Gallinula angulata
- Red-knobbed coot, Fulica cristata
Heliornithidae is a small family of tropical birds with webbed lobes on their feet similar to those of grebes and coots. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Swaziland.
- African finfoot, Podica senegalensis
Bustards are large terrestrial birds mainly associated with dry open country and steppes in the Old World. They are omnivorous and nest on the ground. They walk steadily on strong legs and big toes, pecking for food as they go. They have long broad wings with "fingered" wingtips and striking patterns in flight. Many have interesting mating displays.
- Kori bustard, Ardeotis kori (Ex)
- Denham's bustard, Neotis denhami
- White-bellied bustard, Eupodotis senegalensis
- Red-crested korhaan, Lophotis ruficrista
- Black-bellied bustard, Lissotis melanogaster
The buttonquails are small, drab, running birds which resemble the true quails. The female is the brighter of the sexes and initiates courtship. The male incubates the eggs and tends the young.
The jacanas are a group of tropical waders in the family Jacanidae. They are found throughout the tropics. They are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat. There 8 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Swaziland.
Painted-snipe are short-legged, long-billed birds similar in shape to the true snipes, but more brightly coloured. There are 2 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Swaziland.
- Greater painted-snipe, Rostratula benghalensis
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 Swaziland.
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 2 species which occur in Swaziland.
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 3 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Temminck's courser, Cursorius temminckii
- 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 12 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Blacksmith plover, Vanellus armatus
- Senegal lapwing, Vanellus lugubris
- Black-winged lapwing, Vanellus melanopterus
- Crowned lapwing, Vanellus coronatus
- Wattled lapwing, Vanellus senegallus
- Grey plover, Pluvialis squatarola (A)
- Ringed plover, Charadrius hiaticula (A)
- Kittlitz's plover, Charadrius pecuarius
- Three-banded plover, Charadrius tricollaris
- White-fronted plover, Charadrius marginatus (A)
- Chestnut-banded plover, Charadrius pallidus
- Caspian plover, Charadrius asiaticus (A)
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 89 species worldwide and 12 species which occur in Swaziland.
- African snipe, Gallinago nigripennis
- Marsh sandpiper, Tringa stagnatilis
- Common greenshank, Tringa nebularia
- Green sandpiper, Tringa ochropus (A)
- Wood sandpiper, Tringa glareola
- Terek sandpiper, Xenus cinereus (A)
- Common sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos
- Ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres (A)
- Sanderling, Calidris alba (A)
- Little stint, Calidris minuta
- Curlew sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea
- Ruff, Philomachus pugnax
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.
- Grey-headed gull, Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus
- Caspian tern, Hydroprogne caspia (A)
- Sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscatus (A)
- Whiskered tern, Chlidonias hybrida
- White-winged tern, Chlidonias leucopterus
Pigeons and doves
- Rock pigeon, Columba livia (I)
- Speckled pigeon, Columba guinea
- Rameron pigeon, Columba arquatrix
- Lemon dove, Columba larvata
- Red-eyed dove, Streptopelia semitorquata
- Ring-necked dove, Streptopelia capicola
- Laughing dove, Spilopelia senegalensis
- Emerald-spotted wood dove, Turtur chalcospilos
- Tambourine dove, Turtur tympanistria
- Namaqua dove, Oena capensis
- African green pigeon, Treron calva
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.
- Brown-necked parrot, Poicephalus robustus
- Meyer's parrot, Poicephalus meyeri (A)
- Brown-headed parrot, Poicephalus cryptoxanthus
The turacos, plantain eaters and go-away-birds make up the bird family Musophagidae. They are medium-sized arboreal birds. The turacos and plantain eaters are brightly coloured, usually in blue, green or purple. The go-away birds are mostly grey and white. There are 23 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Livingstone's turaco, Tauraco livingstonii
- Knysna turaco, Tauraco corythaix
- Purple-crested turaco, Tauraco porphyreolophus
- Grey go-away-bird, Corythaixoides concolor
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 Swaziland.
- Pied cuckoo, Clamator jacobinus
- Levaillant's cuckoo, Clamator levaillantii
- Great spotted cuckoo, Clamator glandarius
- Thick-billed cuckoo, Pachycoccyx audeberti
- Red-chested cuckoo, Cuculus solitarius
- Black cuckoo, Cuculus clamosus
- Common cuckoo, Cuculus canorus
- African cuckoo, Cuculus gularis
- Klaas's cuckoo, Chrysococcyx klaas
- African emerald cuckoo, Chrysococcyx cupreus
- Dideric cuckoo, Chrysococcyx caprius
- Black coucal, Centropus grillii
Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons.
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.
- 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 (A)
- African wood owl, Strix woodfordii
- Pearl-spotted owlet, Glaucidium perlatum
- African barred owlet, Glaucidium capense
- Marsh owl, Asio capensis
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds that usually nest on the ground. They have long wings, short legs and very short bills. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves. There are 5 species which have been recorded in Swaziland.
- Eurasian nightjar, Caprimulgus europaeus
- Fiery-necked nightjar, Caprimulgus pectoralis
- Freckled nightjar, Caprimulgus tristigma
- Square-tailed nightjar, Caprimulgus fossii
- Pennant-winged nightjar, Caprimulgus vexillarius
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 Swaziland.
- African palm swift, Cypsiurus parvus
- Alpine swift, Tachymarptis melba
- Common swift, Apus apus
- African swift, Apus barbatus
- Little swift, Apus affinis
- Horus swift, Apus horus
- 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 Swaziland.
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 Swaziland.
- 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 Swaziland.
- Half-collared kingfisher, Alcedo semitorquata
- Malachite kingfisher, Corythornis cristatus
- African pygmy kingfisher, Ispidina picta
- Grey-headed kingfisher, Halcyon leucocephala
- Woodland kingfisher, Halcyon senegalensis
- Brown-hooded kingfisher, Halcyon albiventris
- Striped kingfisher, Halcyon chelicuti
- Giant kingfisher, Megaceryle maximus
- Pied kingfisher, Ceryle rudis
The bee-eaters are a group of near passerine birds in the family Meropidae. Most species are found in Africa but others occur in southern Europe, Madagascar, Australia and New Guinea. They are characterised by richly coloured plumage, slender bodies and usually elongated central tail feathers. All are colourful and have long downturned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar. There are 26 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Swaziland.
- White-fronted bee-eater, Merops bullockoides
- Little bee-eater, Merops pusillus
- Blue-cheeked bee-eater, Merops persicus
- European bee-eater, Merops apiaster
- Southern carmine bee-eater, Merops nubicoides
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 4 species which occur in Swaziland.
- European roller, Coracias garrulus
- 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 Swaziland.
- 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 Swaziland.
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.
- Southern red-billed hornbill, Tockus rufirostris
- Southern yellow-billed hornbill, Tockus leucomelas
- Crowned hornbill, Tockus alboterminatus
- African grey hornbill, Tockus nasutus
- Trumpeter hornbill, Ceratogymna bucinator
- Southern ground-hornbill, Bucorvus leadbeateri
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.
- White-eared barbet, Stactolaema leucotis
- Yellow-rumped tinkerbird, Pogoniulus bilineatus
- Yellow-fronted tinkerbird, Pogoniulus chrysoconus
- Red-fronted tinkerbird, Pogoniulus pusillus
- Pied barbet, Tricholaema leucomelas
- Black-collared barbet, Lybius torquatus
- Crested barbet, Trachyphonus vaillantii
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 4 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Scaly-throated honeyguide, Indicator variegatus
- Greater honeyguide, Indicator indicator
- Lesser honeyguide, Indicator minor
- Wahlberg's honeyguide, Prodotiscus regulus
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.
- Rufous-necked wryneck, Jynx ruficollis
- Bennett's woodpecker, Campethera bennettii
- Golden-tailed woodpecker, Campethera abingoni
- Ground woodpecker, Geocolaptes olivaceus
- Cardinal woodpecker, Dendropicos fuscescens
- Olive woodpecker, Dendropicos griseocephalus
- Bearded woodpecker, Chloropicus namaquus
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. There are 15 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Swaziland.
- African broadbill, Smithornis capensis
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 7 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Rufous-naped lark, Mirafra africana
- Flappet lark, Mirafra rufocinnamomea
- Sabota lark, Calendulauda sabota
- Dusky lark, Pinarocorys nigricans (A)
- Rudd's lark, Heteromirafra ruddi
- Chestnut-backed sparrow-lark, Eremopterix leucotis (A)
- Red-capped lark, Calandrella cinerea
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 15 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Sand martin, Riparia riparia
- Brown-throated martin, Riparia paludicola
- Banded martin, Riparia cincta
- Grey-rumped swallow, Pseudhirundo griseopyga
- Rock martin, Ptyonoprogne fuligula
- Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica
- White-throated swallow, Hirundo albigularis
- Wire-tailed swallow, Hirundo smithii
- Blue swallow, Hirundo atrocaerulea
- Pearl-breasted swallow, Hirundo dimidiata
- Greater striped swallow, Cecropis cucullata
- Lesser striped swallow, Cecropis abyssinica
- Rufous-chested swallow, Cecropis semirufa
- 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 13 species which occur in Swaziland.
- African pied wagtail, Motacilla aguimp
- Cape wagtail, Motacilla capensis
- Yellow wagtail, Motacilla flava
- Mountain wagtail, Motacilla clara
- Yellow-throated longclaw, Macronyx croceus
- Orange-throated longclaw, Macronyx capensis
- Striped pipit, Anthus lineiventris
- African rock pipit, Anthus crenatus
- Plain-backed pipit, Anthus leucophrys
- Buffy pipit, Anthus vaalensis
- African pipit, Anthus cinnamomeus
- Long-billed pipit, Anthus similis
- Bush pipit, Anthus caffer
The cuckooshrikes are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are predominantly greyish with white and black, although some species are brightly coloured.
- White-breasted cuckooshrike, Coracina pectoralis
- Grey cuckooshrike, Coracina caesia
- Black cuckooshrike, Campephaga flava
Bulbuls are medium-sized songbirds. Some are colourful with yellow, red or orange vents, cheeks, throats or supercilia, but most are drab, with uniform olive-brown to black plumage. Some species have distinct crests.
- Common bulbul, Pycnonotus barbatus
- Sombre greenbul, Andropadus importunus
- Yellow-bellied greenbul, Chlorocichla flaviventris (A)
- Terrestrial brownbul, Phyllastrephus terrestris
- Yellow-streaked bulbul, Phyllastrephus flavostriatus
- Eastern nicator, Nicator gularis
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.
- Orange ground thrush, Geokichla gurneyi
- Groundscraper thrush, Psophocichla litsitsirupa
- Olive thrush, Turdus olivaceus
- Kurrichane thrush, Turdus libonyana
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 20 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Red-faced cisticola, Cisticola erythrops
- Rock-loving cisticola, Cisticola aberrans
- Rattling cisticola, Cisticola chiniana
- Wailing cisticola, Cisticola lais
- Tinkling cisticola, Cisticola tinniens
- Croaking cisticola, Cisticola natalensis
- Piping cisticola, Cisticola fulvicapillus
- Zitting cisticola, Cisticola juncidis
- Desert cisticola, Cisticola aridulus
- Cloud cisticola, Cisticola textrix
- Pale-crowned cisticola, Cisticola cinnamomeus
- Wing-snapping cisticola, Cisticola ayresii
- Tawny-flanked prinia, Prinia subflava
- Karoo prinia, Prinia maculosa
- Drakensberg prinia, Prinia hypoxantha
- Bar-throated apalis, Apalis thoracica
- Yellow-breasted apalis, Apalis flavida
- Rudd's apalis, Apalis ruddi
- Green-backed camaroptera, Camaroptera brachyura
- Miombo camaroptera, Calamonastes undosus
- Yellow-bellied eremomela, Eremomela icteropygialis
- Greencap eremomela, Eremomela scotops (A)
- Burnt-neck eremomela, Eremomela usticollis
- African bush warbler, Bradypterus baboecala
- Eurasian river warbler, Locustella fluviatilis (A)
- Fan-tailed grassbird, Schoenicola brevirostris
- Sedge warbler, Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
- African reed warbler, Acrocephalus baeticatus
- Marsh warbler, Acrocephalus palustris
- Great reed warbler, Acrocephalus arundinaceus
- Lesser swamp warbler, Acrocephalus gracilirostris
- Icterine warbler, Hippolais icterina
- African yellow warbler, Iduna natalensis
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.
- Garden warbler, Sylvia borin
- Greater whitethroat, Sylvia communis
- Chestnut-vented warbler, Sylvia subcoerulea
- Bush blackcap, Lioptilus nigricapillus (A)
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.
- Cape rock thrush, Monticola rupestris
- Sentinel rock thrush, Monticola explorator
- Pale flycatcher, Melaenornis pallidus
- Southern black flycatcher, Melaenornis pammelaina
- Fiscal flycatcher, Sigelus silens
- Spotted flycatcher, Muscicapa striata
- African dusky flycatcher, Muscicapa adusta
- Ashy flycatcher, Muscicapa caerulescens
- Grey tit-flycatcher, Myioparus plumbeus
- White-starred robin, Pogonocichla stellata
- 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
- Bearded scrub-robin, Cercotrichas quadrivirgata
- Brown scrub-robin, Cercotrichas signata (A)
- Red-backed scrub-robin, Cercotrichas leucophrys
- African stonechat, Saxicola torquatus
- Buff-streaked chat, Campicoloides bifasciatus
- Mountain wheatear, Oenanthe monticola
- Capped wheatear, Oenanthe pileata (A)
- Familiar chat, Cercomela familiaris
- Southern anteater-chat, Myrmecocichla formicivora
- Mocking cliff-chat, Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris
The wattle-eyes, or puffback flycatchers, are small stout passerine birds of the African tropics. They get their name from the brightly coloured fleshy eye decorations found in most species in this group. There are 31 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Black-throated wattle-eye, Platysteira peltata (A)
- Cape batis, Batis capensis
- Chinspot batis, Batis molitor
- Fairy flycatcher, Stenostira scita (A)
The monarch flycatchers are small to medium-sized insectivorous passerines which hunt by flycatching. There are 99 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Swaziland.
- African crested-flycatcher, Trochocercus cyanomelas
- African paradise-flycatcher, Terpsiphone viridis
- Arrow-marked babbler, Turdoides jardineii
The Paridae are mainly small stocky woodland species with short stout bills. Some have crests. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects. There are 59 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Swaziland.
- Black tit, Melaniparus niger
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 Swaziland.
- African penduline tit, Anthoscopus caroli
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 11 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Collared sunbird, Hedydipna collaris
- Eastern olive-sunbird, Cyanomitra olivacea
- Mouse-coloured sunbird, Cyanomitra veroxii
- Amethyst sunbird, Chalcomitra amethystina
- Scarlet-chested sunbird, Chalcomitra senegalensis
- Malachite sunbird, Nectarinia famosa
- Southern double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris chalybeus
- Greater double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris afer
- Mariqua sunbird, Cinnyris mariquensis
- Purple-banded sunbird, Cinnyris bifasciatus
- White-breasted sunbird, Cinnyris talatala
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 is 1 species which has been recorded in Swaziland.
- Cape white-eye, Zosterops virens
The sugarbirds resemble large sunbirds in general appearance and habits, but are possibly more closely related to the Australian honeyeaters. They have brownish plumage, the long downcurved bill of passerine nectar feeders and long tail feathers. There are 2 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Swaziland.
- Gurney's sugarbird, Promerops gurneyi
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 Swaziland.
Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey. There are 4 species which have been recorded in Swaziland.
- Red-backed shrike, Lanius collurio
- Lesser grey shrike, Lanius minor
- Southern fiscal, Lanius collaris
- Magpie shrike, Corvinella melanoleuca
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 11 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Brubru, Nilaus afer
- Black-backed puffback, Dryoscopus cubla
- Black-crowned tchagra, Tchagra senegala
- Brown-crowned tchagra, Tchagra australis
- Southern tchagra, Tchagra tchagra
- Southern boubou, Laniarius ferrugineus
- Bokmakierie, Telophorus zeylonus
- Sulphur-breasted bushshrike, Telophorus sulfureopectus
- Olive bushshrike, Telophorus olivaceus
- Four-coloured bushshrike, Telophorus viridis
- Grey-headed bushshrike, Malaconotus blanchoti
The helmetshrikes are similar in build to the shrikes, but tend to be colourful species with distinctive crests or other head ornaments, such as wattles, from which they get their name. There are 12 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Swaziland.
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 2 species which occur in Swaziland.
Crows and allies
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 3 species which occur in Swaziland.
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 myna, Acridotheres tristis (I)
- Wattled starling, Creatophora cinerea
- Red-shouldered glossy-starling, Lamprotornis nitens
- Burchell's glossy-starling, Lamprotornis australis
- Black-bellied starling, Notopholia corrusca
- Violet-backed starling, Cinnyricinclus leucogaster
- Pied starling, Lamprotornis bicolor
- Red-winged starling, Onychognathus morio
- Red-billed oxpecker, Buphagus erythrorhynchus
- Yellow-billed oxpecker, Buphagus africanus (Ex)
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. There are 116 species worldwide and 22 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Red-billed buffalo-weaver, Bubalornis niger
- Lesser masked-weaver, Ploceus intermedius
- Spectacled weaver, Ploceus ocularis
- Cape weaver, Ploceus capensis
- African golden-weaver, Ploceus subaureus
- Holub's golden-weaver, Ploceus xanthops
- Southern brown-throated weaver, Ploceus xanthopterus (A)
- Southern masked weaver, Ploceus velatus
- Village weaver, Ploceus cucullatus
- Forest weaver, Ploceus bicolor
- Red-headed weaver, Anaplectes rubriceps
- Red-headed quelea, Quelea erythrops
- Red-billed quelea, Quelea quelea
- Yellow-crowned bishop, Euplectes afer
- Red bishop, Euplectes orix
- Yellow bishop, Euplectes capensis
- Fan-tailed widowbird, Euplectes axillaris
- White-winged widowbird, Euplectes albonotatus
- Red-collared widowbird, Euplectes ardens
- Long-tailed widowbird, Euplectes progne
- Grosbeak weaver, Amblyospiza albifrons
- Parasitic weaver, Anomalospiza imberbis
Waxbills and allies
The estrildid finches are small passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They are gregarious and often colonial seed eaters with short thick but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but have wide variation in plumage colours and patterns. There are 141 species worldwide and 15 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Green-winged pytilia, Pytilia melba
- Green-backed twinspot, Mandingoa nitidula
- Pink-throated twinspot, Hypargos margaritatus
- Red-billed firefinch, Lagonosticta senegala
- African firefinch, Lagonosticta rubricata
- Jameson's firefinch, Lagonosticta rhodopareia
- Blue-breasted cordonbleu, Uraeginthus angolensis
- Black-tailed waxbill, Estrilda perreini
- Swee waxbill, Estrilda melanotis
- Common waxbill, Estrilda astrild
- Zebra waxbill, Sporaeginthus subflavus
- African quailfinch, Ortygospiza fuscocrissa
- Bronze mannikin, Spermestes cucullatus
- Black-and-white mannikin, Spermestes bicolor
- Magpie mannikin, Spermestes fringilloides
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 5 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Village indigobird, Vidua chalybeata
- Variable indigobird, Vidua funerea
- Purple indigobird, Vidua purpurascens
- Pin-tailed whydah, Vidua macroura
- Eastern paradise-whydah, Vidua paradisaea
The emberizids are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with distinctively shaped bills. In Europe, most species are called buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. There are 275 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Swaziland.
- Lark-like bunting, Emberiza impetuani (A)
- Cinnamon-breasted bunting, Emberiza tahapisi
- Cape bunting, Emberiza capensis
- Golden-breasted bunting, Emberiza flaviventris
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
- Forest canary, Crithagra scotops
- Black-throated canary, Crithagra atrogularis
- Yellow-fronted canary, Crithagra mozambicus
- Yellow canary, Crithagra flaviventris (A)
- Brimstone canary, Crithagra sulphuratus
- Streaky-headed seedeater, Crithagra gularis
Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or grey birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed eaters, but they also consume small insects. There are 35 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Swaziland.
- House sparrow, Passer domesticus (I)
- Great rufous sparrow, Passer motitensis
- Cape sparrow, Passer melanurus (A)
- Southern grey-headed sparrow, Passer diffusus
- Yellow-throated petronia, Petronia superciliaris
- Lepage, Denis. "Checklist of birds of Swaziland". 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 Swaziland - World Institute for Conservation and Environment