List of birds of the Gambia

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This is a list of the bird species recorded in the Gambia. The avifauna of the Gambia include a total of 576 species, one of which has been introduced by humans and two of which are globally threatened. The country, which is very small and almost completely surrounded by Senegal, has no endemic species.

The following tags have been used to highlight several categories. Not all species will fall into one of these categories. Those that do not are commonly occurring native species.

  • (A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in the Gambia[1]
  • (I) Introduced - a species introduced to the Gambia as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions

Table of contents

See also        References        External links

Little grebes are locally common in freshwater ponds, creeks and rice fields, particularly in the Western Division.[2]


Order: Podicipediformes   Family: Podicipedidae

Grebes are small to medium-sized diving birds. They breed on fresh water, but often visit the sea whilst migrating and in winter. They have lobed toes and are excellent swimmers and divers; however, their feet are placed far back on their bodies, making them quite ungainly on land. There are 19 species worldwide. Of these, one species has been recorded in the Gambia.


Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Procellariidae

Shearwaters are medium-sized, long-winged seabirds. Highly pelagic, they come ashore only to breed, nesting on islands and rocky cliffs. They generally glide low above the water on stiff wings, and feed on fish, squid and similar oceanic food. There are 23–27 species worldwide. (Some experts split Audubon's shearwater into several distinct species, while others consider those distinctive forms to be subspecies.) Of these, 13 species have been recorded in Africa and two in the Gambia.

Wilson's storm petrels are sometimes abundant offshore between April and September.[2]

Storm petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Hydrobatidae

The storm-petrels are relatives of the petrels and are the smallest seabirds. They feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like. There are 21 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in the Gambia.


Pink-backed pelicans are abundant along the coast, less common most places upriver.[2]

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Phaethontidae

Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their heads and long wings have black markings. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Gambia.


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. There are 8 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the Gambia.

Northern gannets are sometimes seen offshore, generally after strong harmattan winds.[2]

Gannets and boobies[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Sulidae

Gannets and boobies are large seabirds with long beaks and long, pointed wings. They eat fish, which they hunt by plunge-diving from heights of up to 30 m and chasing their prey underwater. They nest colonially on islands and along coasts, either on the ground or in trees. There are ten species worldwide; of these six have been recorded in Africa and two in the Gambia.


Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Phalacrocoracidae

Cormorants are medium to large seabirds, found primarily along the coast, but occasionally ranging some way inland in aquatic environments. Their plumage is generally dark, though most species have areas of brightly coloured skin on the face. They are primarily fish eaters. Their bills are long, thin and sharply hooked, and their four-toed feet are webbed. Because their plumage is only semi-waterproof, they often stand out of the water with their wings outstretched to dry out their feathers. There are 39 species worldwide; of these, 11 have been reported in Africa and two in the Gambia.

The African darter is sometimes called the "snake bird" due to its habit of swimming with only its head and neck sticking out of the water.[3]


Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Anhingidae

Darters are large waterbirds, found primarily in fresh and brackish water habitats. Because their plumage is not entirely waterproof, they often stand out of the water with their wings outstretched, drying off. Darters are strongly sexually dimorphic; males generally have much darker plumage than do females. They eat primarily fish, which they catch by diving from the water's surface. There are two to four species worldwide (some taxonomists lump all the Old World species as Anhinga melanogaster, while others treat them separately); of these, one has been recorded in Africa and in the Gambia.


Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Fregatidae

Frigatebirds are large seabirds typically found soaring over tropical oceans. They have long wings and a deeply forked tail; their plumage is either black (males) or black-and-white (females and young). Males have coloured inflatable throat pouches, which are used in courtship. Frigatebirds spend most of their time in the air. They are kleptoparasites and often chase other seabirds to get them to drop their catches of fish; they also scoop fish from the water's surface. There are five species worldwide; of these four have been reported in Africa and one in the Gambia.

Herons, egrets and bitterns[edit]

The huge Goliath heron is shy and solitary, typically preferring narrower creeks to more open areas.[2]

Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Ardeidae

Herons, egrets and bitterns are long-legged birds typically associated with wetlands; herons and egrets are long-necked, while bitterns tend to be shorter-necked and quite secretive. Birds in this family often wade in shallow waters, preying on various aquatic organisms (including fish and frogs) as well as reptiles, amphibians and the occasional small bird. In flight, they hold their neck retracted in a gentle S-curve. There are 61 species worldwide; of these, 29 occur in Africa and 18 in the Gambia.

The often-gregarious hamerkop builds one of the largest and most complex of all bird nests.[4]


Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Scopidae

Hamerkops are medium-sized, all-brown wading birds named for their hammer-headed appearance, which is created by the combination of their shaggy backwards-pointing crests and their heavy black bills. Typically found in wetland areas, they forage in shallow water for amphibians, small fish, crustaceans, insects, worms and small mammals. They build enormous, complex nests—which they generally use for only a matter of months—and occupy their territories year-round. There is only a single species, which is found in the Gambia.


Yellow-billed storks are most common near the coast.[2]

Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Ciconiidae

Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long stout bills. They occur in most of the world's warmer regions and tend to live in drier habitats than herons, to which they're closely related. They build large stick nests and sometimes nest colonially. Many species are migratory. Most storks eat a variety of small vertebrates and invertebrates; some eat carrion. There are 19 species of storks worldwide; of those, eight have been recorded in Africa and seven in the Gambia.

Ibises and spoonbills[edit]

Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Threskiornithidae


Order: Phoenicopteriformes   Family: Phoenicopteridae

Ducks and geese[edit]

The white-faced whistling-duck is the country's most common and widespread duck.[2]

Order: Anseriformes   Family: Anatidae


Order: Falconiformes   Family: Pandionidae

Kites, vultures, hawks and eagles[edit]

African fish eagles are typically found perched near rivers, creeks or coastal lagoons.[2]
Hooded vultures are abundant throughout the country, particularly around human settlements.[2]
The medium-sized Wahlberg's eagle is common throughout the country all year round.[2]

Order: Falconiformes   Family: Accipitridae

Secretary bird[edit]

Order: Falconiformes   Family: Sagittariidae


Order: Falconiformes   Family: Falconidae

Francolins, quail and partridges[edit]

Order: Galliformes   Family: Phasianidae


Order: Galliformes   Family: Numididae


Order: Gruiformes   Family: Turnicidae

Black-crowned crane (Balearica pavonina)


Order: Gruiformes   Family: Gruidae

Crakes, gallinules and coots[edit]

Order: Gruiformes   Family: Rallidae


Order: Gruiformes   Family: Heliornithidae


Order: Gruiformes   Family: Otidae


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Jacanidae

The greater painted snipe is largely crepuscular, or most active around dawn and dusk.

Painted snipes[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Rostratulidae


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Haematopodidae

Stilts and avocets[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Recurvirostridae


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Burhinidae


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Glareolidae

Lapwings, plovers and dotterel[edit]

Spur-winged plovers are ubiquitous throughout the country, though seldom far from water.[2]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Charadriidae

Lapwings, plovers and dotterels are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, generally in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions. There are 66 species worldwide; of these, 33 species have been recorded in Africa and 15 in the Gambia.

Sandpipers, curlews, stints, godwits, snipes and phalaropes[edit]

Common redshanks are common to abundant throughout the country during the winter months.[2]
Common sandpipers are among the handful of waders which regularly hunt fiddler crabs.[2]
Ruddy turnstones are found in parties of 15-40 along the coast, principally between October and March.[2]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Scolopacidae


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Stercorariidae


Grey-headed gulls are abundant along the coast, sometimes gathering in flocks of hundreds or thousands.[2]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Laridae


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Sternidae


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Rynchopidae


Order: Pterocliformes   Family: Pteroclidae

Doves and pigeons[edit]

Red-eyed dove (Streptopelia semitorquata)

Order: Columbiformes   Family: Columbidae


Senegal parrot (Poicephalus senegalus)

Order: Psittaciformes   Family: Psittacidae


Order: Cuculiformes   Family: Musophagidae


Senegal coucal (Centropus senegalensis)

Order: Cuculiformes   Family: Cuculidae

Barn owl[edit]

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Tytonidae

True owls[edit]

Pearl-spotted owlet (Glaucidium perlatum)

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Strigidae


Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Caprimulgidae


African palm-swift (Cypsiurus parvus)

Order: Apodiformes   Family: Apodidae


Order: Coliiformes   Family: Coliidae


The widespread pied kingfisher is quite gregarious and is often found in small noisy groups.

Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Alcedinidae


Little bee-eater (Merops pusillus)

Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Meropidae


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Coraciidae


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Upupidae


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Phoeniculidae


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Bucerotidae


Order: Piciformes   Family: Capitonidae


Order: Piciformes   Family: Indicatoridae


Order: Piciformes   Family: Picidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Alaudidae

Swallows and martins[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Hirundinidae

Wagtails and pipits[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Motacillidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Campephagidae

Bulbuls, greenbuls, bristlebills and nicators[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Pycnonotidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Turdidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cisticolidae

African warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Macrosphenidae

Cettid warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cettiidae

Locustellid warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Locustellidae

Acrocephalid warblers[edit]

Sedge warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Acrocephalidae

Phylloscopid warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Phylloscopidae

Hyliotid warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Hyliotidae

Old World warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sylviidae

Old World flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Muscicapidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Platysteiridae

Fairy flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Stenostiridae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Monarchidae

Old World babblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Timaliidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Paridae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Certhiidae

Penduline tits[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Remizidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Nectariniidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Zosteropidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Oriolidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Laniidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Malaconotidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Prionopidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Dicruridae

Piapiac, crows and ravens[edit]

Pied crows are abundant along the coast, less common upriver.[2]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Corvidae


The long-tailed glossy-starling is common and widespread throughout the country.[2]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sturnidae


Village weaver

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Ploceidae

Estrildid finches[edit]

Red-billed firefinches forage on the ground in small family groups, often with one or more village indigobird foster chicks in tow.
The ground-feeding red-cheeked cordon-bleu is widespread throughout the country.[2]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Estrildidae

Indigobirds and whydahs[edit]

The pin-tailed whydah (male pictured above) is a brood parasite of various waxbill species.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Viduidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Emberizidae

The yellow-fronted canary is a common resident breeder throughout the country.[2]

Canaries and seedeaters[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Fringillidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Passeridae

See also[edit]


  1. ^ this information is from Barlow's A Field Guide to Birds of The Gambia and Senegal, unless otherwise noted
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Barlow, Clive; Wacher, Tim (1997). A Field Guide to Birds of The Gambia and Senegal. London: Pica Press. 
  3. ^ Orta, Jaume (1992). "Family Anhingidae (Darters)". In Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott & Jordi Sargatal. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. p. 355. ISBN 84-87334-10-5. 
  4. ^ Elliott, Andrew (1992). "Family Scopidae (Hamerkop)". In Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott & Jordi Sargatal. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 432–433. ISBN 84-87334-10-5. 
  5. ^ Mikkola, Anita and Heimo (March 2002). "First record of Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus in The Gambia". Bulletin of the African Bird Club 9 (1): 45. 
  6. ^ Ranner, Andreas; Graham Tebb; Markus Craig (March 2000). "First record of Little Crake Porzana parva in The Gambia". Bulletin of the African bird Club 7 (1): 51–52. 
  7. ^ Kirk, Gordon; Clive Barlow (August 2002). "Second confirmed record of Forbes's Plover Charadrius forbesi for The Gambia". Bulletin of the African Bird Club 9 (2): 138–139. 
  8. ^ Barlow, Clive R. (September 2009). "Three records of Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria in The Gambia". Bulletin of the African Bird Club 16 (2): 209–210. 
  9. ^ High, John (March 2006). "First record of Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus for The Gambia". Bulletin of the African Bird Club 13 (1): 77–78. 
  10. ^ Crewe, Mike D.; Brian J. Small (August 2002). "Temminck's Horned Lark Eremophila bilopha—a new species for The Gambia". Bulletin of the African Bird Club 9 (2): 136–138. 
  11. ^ a b Barnett, Linda K.; Craig Emms (March 2001). "New species and breeding records for The Gambia". Bulletin of the African Bird Club 8 (1): 44–45. 
  12. ^ Barlow, Clive (March 2007). "First Records of Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina for The Gambia and Senegal". Bulletin of the African Bird Club 14 (1): 72–73. 
  13. ^ Barlow, Clive (March 2007). "First Record of Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus for The Gambia". Bulletin of the African Bird Club 14 (1): 74–75. 
  14. ^ Crewe, Mike D.; Megan A. Crewe; Tombong Sanyang (March 2008). "First Record of Rüppell's Warbler Sylvia rueppelli for The Gambia". Bulletin of the African Bird Club 15 (1): 91–92. 

External links[edit]