Africa is home to over 2,700 bird species that come in an almost infinite number of sizes, shapes, and colors. From the soaring eagles and vultures that dominate the skies to the colorful flamingos found in wetlands and forests, you are sure to be inspired and amazed by the beauty of these incredible birds which are often overlooked at the expense of large mammals despite the fact that birds have always been in existence since the age of dinosaurs and fill a variety of roles in African ecosystem. Here’s a look at the Most Common African Birds.
1. African Fish Eagle.
African fish eagles are large and distinctive birds that are often seen perched prominently near bodies of water. These birds have a unique appearance: white head and tail, brown wings, and body. They are also endowed with a large, hooked beak and long, powerful talons, adapted for catching fish, which is their primary food source. In addition to fishing, African fish eagles feed on other prey, such as birds, and reptiles, and even scavenge on carcasses if necessary.
2. Kori Bustard.
The Kori Bustard is the world’s heaviest flying bird that prefers to spend most of its time on the ground, foraging. This bird feeds primarily on seeds, lizards, insects, rodents, and small reptiles, which it locates by sight and captures with its strong legs and powerful bill. Interestingly, they are polygamous birds, with male species attracting and mating with multiple females before leaving them to incubate the eggs and raise the chicks on their own.
3. Lilac Breasted Roller.
The Lilac-breasted Roller is a colorful bird found in Africa, specifically in grassland, savanna, and wooded areas. It is popularly known for its acrobatic hunting style, whereby it perches on a high branch and watches for its prey, before diving down to catch it with its beak. This bird’s diet consists of insects, small reptiles, rodents, as well as other smaller birds. The Lilac-breasted Roller is also popular for its beautiful courtship whereby the male species performs a series of aerial acrobatics and calls to attract the other opposite sex.
4. Lappet-Faced Vulture.
The Lappet-faced vulture is easily recognizable due to its distinctive appearance, with a bald head and a prominent, fleshy protrusion on the top of its beak. This bird has a strong, powerful beak and talons that are built for tearing apart the hides, tendons, and any other tissue from its prey, which may be too tough for other scavengers. As the largest vulture in Africa, the lappet-faced vulture dominates other vultures during feeding and is strong enough to drive off a jackal.
5. Secretary Bird.
The Secretary Bird is a distinctive-looking bird, with a long, crane-like neck, a long tail, and long, thin legs. It gets its name from the long, quill-like feathers on its head, which resemble the quills used by secretaries to write during the 18th and 19th centuries. They are fairly terrestrial and use their long, thin legs to chase and catch insects, small mammals, lizards, snakes, and young birds. It is also known for its impressive courtship displays, in which the male and female perform elaborate aerial acrobatics and calls.
6. Helmeted Guineafowl.
The helmeted guineafowl is a large, terrestrial bird popularly known for its distinctive helmet-like protrusion on the top of its head. In addition to its distinctive appearance, this bird is also known for its loud, distinctive calls, which are often heard in the early morning and late afternoon and they feed on a wide variety of foods, including seeds, fruit, insects, and small invertebrates. They can easily spot in open woodlands, grasslands, and savannas.
7. Egyptian Goose.
The Egyptian goose is well-known for its long neck, slender body, and distinctive head plumes. They are typically found near bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and marshes and they feed on a variety of plants and animals such as seeds, grains, roots, and small invertebrates. They are also widely recognized for their loud calls, which can often be heard at dawn and dusk.
There are several species of flamingo that can be seen in Africa, including the greater flamingo and lesser flamingo. These birds are often associated with shallow, saline lakes and lagoons where they primarily feed on algae, small crustaceans, and other small invertebrates, which they filter from the water using their specialized beaks. They are highly social birds that prefer to live in large colonies, where they can be seen standing on one leg and preening their feathers.
9. Grey Crowned Crane.
The grey-crowned crane is popularly known for its distinctive grey crown, which gives it its name. These birds prefer to live in a wide range of habitats, including grasslands, wetlands, and savannas, and they are often seen near bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and marshes. They are omnivorous and feed on a variety of plants and animals, including seeds, grains, insects, and small vertebrates. In Africa, these birds are considered a symbol of peace and prosperity in some African cultures.
10. Common Ostrich.
The common ostrich is the largest living bird by height and mass. They are popularly known for their long legs and necks, and they can run at speeds of up to 69 km per hour, which makes them the fastest bird on land. Their long, powerful legs double up as defensive weapons which pack a powerful kick that can seriously injure or even kill predators such as lions or hyenas. However, it’s worth noting that ostriches generally try to avoid confrontations with predators and will usually only resort to using their legs for defense as a last resort.
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