There’s no denying it, Kruger has A LOT of birds. Kruger Nationwide Park in South Africa is among the largest sport reserves in Africa and covers a variety of habitats. It’s no shock that Kruger has one of many highest range of chicken species in Southern Africa.
At the least 613 chicken species have been documented within the park (based on Avibase) although about 85 of these are thought-about extraordinarily uncommon (or unintentional) sightings. If you happen to contemplate that there are solely 10,906 accepted chicken species in all the world (based on Cornell Lab’s Birds of the World checklist), which means almost 6% of the world’s birds have proven up in Kruger!
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If you’re in Kruger to do some birding, head out to the north a part of the park. Birding within the north of Kruger is world class and other people journey from everywhere in the world to go birdwatching. There are many safari lodges in Kruger the place you possibly can loosen up after a tough day of birding!
Listed here are among the birds in Kruger you may discover throughout your subsequent Kruger safari.
Birds of Kruger Nationwide Park
What higher strategy to begin the birds of Kruger checklist than with the most important chicken on the planet: the ostrich! (Struthio camelus.) In addition they make the greatest eggs on the planet.
These birds are enormous, not afraid of the noon warmth, and stroll round in open areas, so you will have an excellent likelihood of seeing ostriches at any time in Kruger. It might be about as shut as you’ll get to seeing a dinosaur in motion.
Francolins and Spurfowl
Francolins and spurfowl are lots of enjoyable. You’ll usually hear them squawking loudly at daybreak or nightfall lengthy earlier than you see them. But when they’re shifting quietly, you’ll must look fastidiously to identify these cryptically-colored birds strolling amongst the undergrowth (they give the impression of being kind of like chickens operating round). They often develop into fairly tame round relaxation camps the place you may get get an excellent take a look at them. There are 12 species of francolins and spurfowls in Kruger (together with the blue quail).
The Swainson’s spurfowl is a typical resident within the park and may be seen in pairs or small flocks. They like woodland and savanna habitats.
This spurfowl prefers thickets in savanna, woodlands, and on the fringe of forests. Throughout winter months they feed on plant matter, whereas in the summertime they complement their weight-reduction plan with bugs.
Geese and Geese
Kruger has lots of rivers, dams, and waterholes so you possibly can spot all kinds of waterfowl. There have been 19 species of geese and geese documented within the park! Right here’s one in every of our favorites…
African pygmy goose
Although it’s referred to as a goose, the African pygmy goose (Nettapus auritus) is extra carefully associated to geese and is technically termed a “perching duck”. It’s the smallest waterfowl in Africa and one of many smallest on the planet! Plus it’s actually cute.
Whereas the lesser jacana has appeared within the park, it’s thought-about uncommon or unintentional. The one Jacana you’re more likely to see in Kruger is the African jacana…
The African jacana (Actophilornis africanus) is immediately recognizable wading throughout lily pads with its insanely lengthy toes and claws!
There are three species of grebes present in Kruger they usually’re a few of our private favorites.
The little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) could appear to be a small duck however the grebes will not be very carefully associated to geese in any respect. Also referred to as a “dabchick”, the little grebe has an enormous vary throughout a lot of Africa, Europe, and Asia!
There are 8 species of storks in South Africa and all of them are present in Kruger: White stork, Saddle-billed stork, Woolly-necked stork, Marabou stork, Yellow-billed stork, African open invoice, Black stork, and Abdim’s stork. Seek for storks in Kruger by trying round aquatic habitats or search for their giant nests in bushes.
Often present in flocks of 10-50 birds, the White stork (Ciconia ciconia) is a migrant and is discovered within the park from October to Might. They’re insect eaters however will often take mice and small reptiles.
Marabou storks (Leptoptilos crumenifer) will not be recognized for being the prettiest of the stork bunch and their featherless faces is perhaps why. The simplest of the storks to establish due to their pendulous crimson throat sac and their bulbous orange-red air-sac partly hidden beneath their feathers on their hind neck. Marabou storks are scavengers however generally they’ll hunt small mammals or reptiles.
Herons and Egrets
A typical resident, the Black-headed heron (Ardea melanocephala) is lively each diurnally and nocturnally. Discovered alongside the perimeters of wetlands.
Black-headed herons feed on small reptiles, small mammals, and birds.
Cormorants and Darters
The African darter (Anhinga rufa) is the one chicken of the Anhinga genus in South Africa.
Secretary birds are terrestrial raptors and are at all times a spotlight of our journey if we see one. They hunt for snakes and lizards in grasslands and savannah. That is how they received their scientific title Sagittarius serpentarius.
Yow will discover them in grasslands and open savannah whereas they hunt. They’re usually discovered alone whereas they forage.
Examine on extra secretary chicken information to study extra about these birds.
Lapwings are long-legged plovers present in grassland or alongside wetlands. They’re recognized to be one of many noisiest birds round.
The Blacksmith lapwing will get its title due to its name, because it resembles a blacksmith’s hammer. Discovered alongside marshes and moist grasslands they feed on aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.
Sandgrouse are granivorous birds that may be discovered both foraging on the bottom or round water our bodies as they drink repeatedly. Throughout breeding season and chicks have hatched, males go to waterholes to soak their stomach feathers in water to convey to the younger.
The one species of sandgrouse present in Kruger, the Double-banded sandgrouse’s most well-liked habitat is the savanna and Mopane woodland. Granivorous, prefers the seeds of leguminous bushes and shrubs.
The male has a black and white breast band whereas the feminine’s physique is barred.
Doves and Pigeons
African mourning collared dove
There are 12 species of owls in South Africa, and you could find ALL these species in Kruger. So, in case you are on an owl quest, Kruger is the place to be.
The easiest way to see owls in Kruger is by becoming a member of night time sport drives, and likewise by strolling quietly round your relaxation camp at night time.
African scops owl
The African scops owl (Otus senegalensis) is the smallest owl in Southern Africa. It has small ear tufts that they’ll generally lay flat.
You may see the African scops owl throughout night drives in Kruger or in case you are fortunate, they’ll be hanging out on a tree at your campsite. We noticed the owl within the photograph whereas tenting at Letaba restcamp.
Pel’s Fishing owl
The Pel’s Fishing owl (Scotopelia peli) is on each birder’s checklist once they go to Kruger and will not be simple to identify.
They’re the second largest owl in Southern Africa they usually feed nearly completely on fish.
We got here throughout this Pel’s Fishing owl throughout an evening drive whereas we have been staying at The Outpost Lodge. This owl was perched on a department above the Luvuvhu River whereas trying to find fish.
A number of species of kingfishers are discovered within the park. Scope the riverbanks throughout the breeding season as some species nest in excavated tunnels.
Not all kingfishers eat fish! For instance, the Woodland kingfishers feed on bugs, frogs, and small birds!
The biggest of the kingfishers, the Large kingfisher is a typical resident at altitudes greater than 1,500m. You may inform females from males by taking a look at their breasts. Females have mottled breasts, whereas males have rufous coloured breasts (just like the one within the photograph). Females have a rufous stomach, whereas males have a mottled stomach.
The Large kingfisher feeds on primarily fish, but additionally hunts for crabs, frogs, and aquatic invertebrates.
The Woodland kingfisher is a migrant and is just present in Kruger from October to April. They feed on bugs, small snakes, frogs, and small birds.
Bee-eaters are one of the crucial colourful birds you’ll come throughout in Kruger. In chilly winter mornings, you could find small teams of them lined on a department whereas conserving one another heat and absorbing the warming rays of dawn.
Bee-eaters feed on bees and wasps and their nests are excavated tunnels in riverbanks and quarries.
Southern Carmine bee-eater
The biggest African bee-eater, the Southern carmine bee-eater (Merops nubicoides) is a migrant and may be seen in Kruger Park from August/September till March/April.
These bee-eaters breed in massive colonies on riverbanks.
The white-fronted bee-eater (Merops bullockoides) is a typical resident of Kruger Nationwide Park and located alongside river banks in dry woodland.
There are six hornbill species in South Africa, and all of them may be present in Kruger.
These arboreal or semi-terrestrial birds are giant (the Southern floor hornbill is large) and have an omnivorous weight-reduction plan.
Their giant payments are very distinct, with a maxillary casque (bigger in males), and though these look fairly strong, their payments are gentle and honey-combed with air pockets.
Hornbills are monogamous they usually nest in tree and rock cavities. When nesting, the feminine closes herself up within the nest by blocking it apart from a slender gap that the male makes use of to feed her by means of. She’s going to keep in it for about 2.5 months. This habits ensures the chicks are totally protected in opposition to predators.
Southern floor hornbill
The biggest of the South African hornbills, the Southern hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeareti) is an endangered chicken and any encounter with these unimaginable animals is memorable.
You may see them strolling across the savanna in small teams. We noticed the person within the photograph with one other grownup and a juvenile (juveniles have yellow markings as an alternative of crimson). We noticed them for some time as they have been foraging for bugs. As soon as they’d discovered one, they might carry it round (as within the photograph) as in the event that they have been very pleased with their discover.
Southern red-billed hornbill
The Southern red-billed hornbill (Tockus erythrorhunchus) is a medium hornbill that may be distinguished by its yellow eyes, crimson beak, and a black patch in its decrease mandible.
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
With a spread just like that of the African gray hornbill, the Southern yellow-billed hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) is a really curious chicken and it is extremely entertaining to observe.
Throughout one in every of our visits to the Kgalagadi Transfontier Nationwide Park, we have been staying at a cabin at Urikaruus Wilderness Camp when a faucet on the window glass woke us up. There have been two southern yellow-billed hornbills ‘knocking’ at our window! We suspected they noticed their very own reflection within the glass and weren’t amused by it!
At any time when we see these hornbills, we attempt to comply with them for some time as they like to analyze every little thing they usually entertain us for hours.
African gray hornbill
With a spread similar to that of Southern yellow hornbills, the African gray hornbill (Lophoceros nasutus) is distinguishable from different hornbills by the white markings within the decrease mandible.
Present in woodlands the Topped hornbill (Lophoceros alboterminatus) has darkish brown plumage, a white stomach, it’s the one hornbill in Kruger that has a yellow strip on the base of its invoice.
Higher Blue-eared Starling
Oxpeckers are recognized to hold round buffalo, giraffes, and different mammals as they pluck their fur for nests in tree cavities and feed on their ticks and different ectoparasites.
Crimson-billed oxpeckers and Yellow-billed oxpeckers are present in Kruger and might hybridize.
With a yellow wattle across the eye and a darkish rump, the Crimson-billed oxpeckers are the commonest within the park.
Yellow-billed oxpeckers don’t have any yellow wattle across the crimson eye, and the bottom of their beak is yellow.
In Kruger, you could find 8 completely different species of weavers: Crimson-headed weaver, Southern masked weaver, Village weaver, Lesser masked weaver, Thick-billed weaver, Spectacled weaver, Cape weaver, and Holub’s golden weaver.
Weavers are well-known for his or her intricate woven nests. If you happen to see a male beginning a nest, cease and marvel at its expertise!
Southern Masked Weaver
Essentially the most widespread weaver in South Africa, the Southern masked weaver may be discovered within the open savanna, the place he favors Acacia bushes. Feeds on bugs, seeds, and nectar.
With crimson eyes, a yellow stomach, and a black masks, it may be confused with the Village weaver. One strategy to inform them aside is to take a look at their fore crown. The Southern masked weaver has a black fore crown, whereas the Village weaver has a yellow fore crown.
There are three species of Barbets in Kruger: Crested barbet, Black-collared barbet, and Acacia pied barbet.
Barbets are frugivores (feed totally on fruits) however may also eat small bugs and nectar. Barbets may be present in each forests and savanna. They’re tree cavity nesters, the place they’ll lay 3 to 5 white eggs.
The Crested Barbet (Trachyphonus vaillantii) is a typical resident in Kruger that favors dry acacia forests. Will excavate a gap on the underside of a lifeless stump for nesting.
The Black-collared barbet (Lybius torquatus) is a typical resident of Kruger and is usually present in pairs or small flocks. They favor moist woodlands. In addition they excavate holes in lifeless stumps.
There are 6 species of woodpeckers present in Kruger: Bearded woodpecker, Bennett’s woodpecker, Golden-tailed woodpecker, Cardinal woodpecker, Olive woodpecker, and Floor woodpecker.
Simply recognized by its brown cheeks & throat, crimson eyes, and speckled underparts. Their favourite meals are ants and their eggs and pupae. Present in deciduous woodlands.
It may be mistaken with Bearded woodpeckers, however a simple strategy to inform them aside is by taking a look at their underpart. The Bearded woodpecker has barred underparts whereas Bennett’s woodpecker’s underparts are speckled.
Orioles are solitary passerines that favor forest canopies. There are three species of orioles present in Kruger Nationwide Park, the Black-headed oriole, the African Golden oriole, and the Eurasian Golden oriole (migrant and unusual, solely discovered from October to April).
Very simple to establish, with black head and chest, yellow stomach, coral beak, and greenish again. the Black-headed oriole (Oriolus larvatus) is a typical resident in Kruger. Present in woodlands and savannah it feeds on bugs, fruits, and nectar. If you happen to see one with an orange brow, look carefully! It’s nectar coating its face feathers.
These daring birds are simply recognized by their forked tail, darkish colour, and crimson eyes. Throughout molt their tail seems to be double-forked.
Distinguishable from the Sq.-tailed Drongo by their extra deeply forked tail.
Each species of South African babblers are present in Kruger: the Arrow-marked Babbler and the Southern Pied Babbler.
The Arrow-marked Babbler is a typical chicken in Kruger. Present in small teams round savannah and riparian thickets.
Queleas and Bishops
These are small to medium-sized birds and are at all times present in very giant and generally combined flocks.
Southern Crimson Bishop
Very simple to establish by its vibrant crimson colour, the Southern Crimson Bishop may be discovered alongside marshy grasslands and wetlands in Kruger. Distinguishable from the Black-winged Crimson Bishop by their black forecrown. Black-winged Crimson Bishop has a crimson forecrown.
These birds have a black facial masks, a crimson eye ring, and a vibrant crimson invoice. They’re discovered nearly in every single place in Southern Africa and are at all times current in very giant teams.
Subsequent time you go to Kruger Nationwide Park, be sure to have your chicken information and your binoculars. Take a while to go to the chicken hides which can be discovered across the park and hearken to their calls. You may discover your lifer chicken!
Zoologist and wildlife photographer. She has labored within the subject with jackals, wolves, cheetahs, & leopards. She serves on the Board of Administrators of SEE Turtles, a non-profit sea turtle conservation group.