If you want to see the most beautiful exotic African birds on the continent, then the question is where to start from.
With more than 2500 species of wild birds spread throughout the continent in all types of climate, vegetation and landscape, Africa is a bird watchers’ paradise.
Some birds are only endemic to the continent and special that way, while some birds have adapted beautifully to their environments.
Although the continent is more famous for its big game like lions and elephants, birds are a definite addition to your safari wish list and itinerary.
Below is a list of the most amazing, and beautiful exotic birds of Africa.
1.The Ostrich- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but surely exotic!
Ostriches are the largest and heaviest birds on earth and are native to Africa. These flightless birds can only be found in the wild on the continent. While maybe not the prettiest one, it sure is peculiar!
The only two living species of the ostrich are the Somali and the common ostrich.
They are the fastest of any birds on land capable of running at 70 km/h (43.5 mph).
They stand 2 to 3 meters tall and can weigh from 90 to 130 kilograms.
Ostriches generally prefer open areas, thus savanna areas and grasslands and they can be found generally south of the Sahara.
The Somali ostrich can be found in the Horn of Africa. The common ostrich has a wide range of habitats, from East Africa, to North Africa, and to Southern Africa.
2. The Flamingo-pink elegance!
Flamingos are spectacular with their pink plumage, and long reed-like legs.
Around the world, there are about six species of flamingo and they are quite easy to spot, as they are always around wet habitats.
The species you’ll find in Africa include the lesser flamingo and the greater flamingo.
- The lesser flamingo has pink legs, bills, and plumage, and is smaller compared to other flamingo species.
They can be found in Eastern and Southern Africa, with the best places to find them being the Rift Valley lakes, Botswana, and Namibia and to lesser extents, Ethiopia and Sudan.
- The greater flamingo; the largest of all the species has pale pink plumage, long and lean necks, and bills that have a downward curve that is black-tipped.
The greater flamingo generally prefers warmer regions and can be found in Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, and Kenya.
Personally, I was greatly impressed by the flamingos in the great Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania. Agh, those fine memories!
Grey Crowned Crane- an intriguing exotic African bird
The birds get their name from their yellow plume tipped with black. It is also the national bird and symbol of Uganda.
Due to their beauty and splendor, they are considered a status symbol. They are thus illegally captured and sold into captivity which has put their status as endangered.
Gray-crowned cranes are non-migratory birds, but will move following seasonal changes, but not for long distances.
Their range stretches from Kenya, Uganda, the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe, to Southeastern South Africa.
The Lilac-Breasted Roller
The lilac-breasted Roller is a beautifully stunning bird known for its breathtaking aerobatic displays during the mating season.
It is a large-headed chunky bird with a lilac-colored breast, a spring-green crown, and rusty cheeks. It is also the national bird of Kenya.
They are found throughout Eastern and Southern sections of Africa.
They live in open savanna habitats with scattered shrubs and trees, but will be found less often in riverine areas and light forests.
They occur in Eritrea, throughout East Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.
Sunbirds are strong active flying birds that mostly feed on nectar and insects.
Not to be confused with the nectar-eating hummingbirds, sunbirds don’t hover, instead, they perch and their beaks are curved.
They are very important pollinators for plant species such as orange trees. They sure belong to the list of most beautiful exotic birds of Africa, in my opinion.
Males are quite colorful due to their shimmering plumage which makes them appear varied depending on the light source and brightness. Females are less colorful.
Sunbirds are numerous in Africa but also occur east towards the pacific islands.
The most widespread species found in Africa is the splendid sunbird, with black wings, black tails, green back, and a purple head.
This is a common term for a small group of parrots; nine species, of which all are native to Africa.
These birds get their name from the strong bonds formed between pairs. Among parrot species, they are quite small at just over 5 inches.
In the wild, they live in small flocks and have a diet of seeds, grasses, vegetables, and fruits.
Most lovebird species are native to the African continent, even the grey-headed lovebird that is found in Madagascar.
Also known as the South African or cape penguin, these penguins have black stripes and unique black spots on their chests, as well as pink-colored glands above the eyes.
A unique feature, of these birds, is that their pink-colored glands become pinker the hotter the penguin gets.
They are found on the African mainland, and their colonies are distributed on 24 islands from Bird Island, Algoa Bay, South Africa, to Hollams bird island, Namibia.
This penguin is unique in that it is the only penguin species that breeds on the continent.
African Sacred Ibis
The African sacred ibis is well known for its role in the Ancient Egyptian religion, as it was linked to Thoth, the god of wisdom, art, science, judgment, and magic.
Even though the bird is linked to an Egyptian god, it does not exist anymore in modern-day Egypt.
The bird can be found throughout the continent south of the Sahara.
In West Africa, they can be found along the Niger delta in Mali, Lac Fitri in Chad, Logone of Central African Republic, and the Saloum Delta in Senegal.
Along the Nile delta in Sudan, the birds are plentiful.
The Secretary Bird
The secretary bird is a large bird of prey endemic to Africa and is found in open savanna and grasslands.
These birds are tall, standing at nearly four feet, and they are mostly terrestrial, and usually fly when necessary.
Together with Caracaras, secretary birds are the only bird species that are known to hunt on the ground.
The bird’s favorite meal is snakes, which is a fact from its scientific name, ‘Sagittarius sepentarius’, which means the archer of snakes.
The secretary bird is native to Africa, and its habitat ranges from just south of the Sahara Desert, Somalia, and Senegal to South Africa.
Doesn’t this bird belong to the list of the most beautiful exotic birds of Africa?
Hornbills are a family of birds found in tropical and subtropical Melanesia, Asia and Africa.
Their most defining feature is their long, downward curved bill which is in most cases brightly colored and will sometimes have a casque on the upper beak.
Hornbills have broad wings, a long tail, and gray, brown, or black feathers.
Africa is fortunate enough to have both the largest hornbill species; Southern Africa’s ground hornbill which stands at three feet and the smallest species; the red-billed dwarf hornbill.
They are famous for their breeding routine as the female lays her eggs in a hole or crevice and completely seals herself in with mud living in only a tiny opening for food.
While she incubates the eggs, it is the male’s job to bring her food.
The Cape Glossy Starling
Sometimes referred to as the ‘oil spill bird’ on account of its uniquely glossy and shiny coats with coats of iridescent blue-green color.
The birds are known to congregate in massive swarms that form majestic and large flight paths and formations.
The bird lives in open bushveld, woodland, and the suburbs.
These birds are found in South Africa and are widespread from the Eastern Cape all through Southern Africa; Lesotho, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. And we saw them lots ourselves in Pongola Game Reserve.
The Cape Sugarbird
This is a beautiful bird that is native and endemic to South Africa. The species is noisy and considered a very important pollinator for various plant species.
Both male and female birds have long, slender, and slightly curved bills.
The birds feed on nectar and their beaks are highly evolved for the same, they also feed on a wide range of insects.
The Cape sugarbird is widely spread across South Africa in areas where flowers are abundant.
Are you thinking about buying binoculars to have a good look at all the magnificent birds of Africa?
Frequently Asked Questions
I always try to add a few questions that you might wonder about a topic, so here we go!
Q1: Are all the birds mentioned in your list endangered?
A1: While some birds, like the Gray-Crowned Crane, face endangerment due to illegal capture, not all the birds on the list are endangered. Each species has its own conservation status, with efforts in place to protect and preserve their habitats.
Q2: Where is the best place to spot these exotic birds in Africa?
A2: The best places to spot these birds vary, but generally, areas with diverse habitats like savannas, grasslands, and wetlands are ideal. Specific regions mentioned in the article, such as the Rift Valley lakes, Botswana, Namibia, and the Ngorongoro crater, are known hotspots for birdwatching.
Q3: Do these birds migrate, or are they mostly found in specific regions?
A3: The migratory patterns of the birds mentioned differ. For example, the Gray-Crowned Crane is non-migratory but may move following seasonal changes. On the other hand, flamingos, particularly the lesser flamingo, are known for their migratory behavior.
Q4: What is the significance of the African Sacred Ibis in ancient Egyptian religion?
A4: The African Sacred Ibis was linked to Thoth, the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom and magic. However, despite its historical significance, the bird no longer exists in modern-day Egypt. It can still be found throughout the continent south of the Sahara.
Q5: How can individuals contribute to bird conservation efforts in Africa?
A5: Contributing to reputable conservation organizations, supporting sustainable tourism practices, such as in Sibuya Game Reserve, and spreading awareness about the importance of preserving natural habitats are ways individuals can contribute to bird conservation efforts in Africa.
My Final Conclusion.
I hope that I have informed you enough about these top 12 beautiful exotic birds of Africa.
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I wish you happy travels!
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