In Birding the Dark Continent of Africa, A Continental Overview, I covered this fascinating continent with a broad brush stroke. If you select your travel destinations as a lister – where you will pick up certain species–the following list of Africa’s Top 10 Birds and Where To See Them will help plan your next excursion.
- Any Turaco species. These unbelievably colorful birds are endemic to Africa and seeing one in flight with its crimson wings is an unforgettable experience. Turacos are widespread in almost all the sub-Saharan African countries, but Uganda has Great Blue Turaco (twice the size of the “normal” Turaco) and the species I personally find most beautiful (White-crested Turaco) – although southern Africa’s Green Turacos come very close!
- Shoebill – this monstrous dull blue stork-like bird of Papyrus Swamps is best sought in Uganda, but Zambia is also a great country for it
- Either African or Green-breasted Pitta. The most reliable country for the latter is Uganda, and the former is best sought in southern Africa (especially Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi or Zambia).
- A Picathartes. This bizarre and charismatic African bird family is strictly West African, and Gabon, Ghana and Cameroon are all good for either of the two species. Actually, Picathartes have recently been found much further east at Sangha Lodge.
- Egyptian Plover and Quail Plover – two highly desirable birds – in Cameroon you have a good chance of seeing both but other West African countries are great for them too
- Helmet Vanga – vangas are a whole family endemic to Madagascar and this is the most dazzling of them all
- Long-tailed Ground-roller – or any of the other 4 spectacularly colorful ground rollers, another of Madagascar’s 5 endemic families
- A Rockjumper, a Sugarbird and Blue Crane in South Africa
- Pel’s Fishing Owl which is most easily seen in Botswana – easily done by hopping across the Namibian border briefly while on a Namibian tour
- Congo Peacock, Yellow-crested Helmet-shrike and other near-mythical and virtually impossible birds most birders only dream of seeing.
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