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Saturday, July 13, 2024

List of 5 Species of Birds Native to the African Continent

Africa is a paradise for birdwatchers. The continent houses birds of more than two thousand, three hundred (2,300) species.

Out of this figure, 66% percent of the species are endemic to Africa.

African birds are as old as the dinosaurs, and you can spot varieties of them with different sizes, colors, and shapes in Africa Safari.

Below is a list of species of birds native to the African continent, emphasizing the most popular ones such as the red-billed quelea, blue crane, common ostrich, African fish eagle, and African wood owl.

1. Red-billed Quelea

The red-billed quelea is the most familiar species of bird native to Africa, especially sub-Sahara Africa. 

In most African countries, people regard this bird as a pest. 

African origin of red-billed quelea

The naturalists and explorers discovered the bird first in sub-Saharan Africa, Sudan, Senegal, Tanzania, South Africa, Chad, Somalia, Mozambique, and Gabon. 

Presently, you can find about 1.5 million red-billed queleas across other African countries.

Botanical name and sub-species of Red-billed Quelea

The botanical name for red-billed quelea is quelea quelea, named in 1758 by Linnaeus.

However, the bird has three subspecies, namely, quelea quelea quelea, Ethiopia, and lathamii.

Features of red-billed quelea

Red-billed quelea is the most abundant of all wild birds still living. The bird has the size of a sparrow, and they live in groups. Sighting them from afar, you will think you have seen an ash cloud.

An adult Red-billed Quelea weighs 18 to 20 grams and is about 12cm long. The male Red-billed Quelea has an extra colorful red bill and plumage than the female.

Scientific classification of Red-billed Quelea

  • Species: Q. quelea
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Genus: Quelea
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Family: Ploceidae
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes

Diet of the red-billed quelea

Red-billed Queleas are granivorous birds as they feed basically on grains. At other times, they feed on insects.

The life cycle, breeding, and mating

The small weaver bird has a life cycle of 3 years, implying that the average red-billed quelea lives for about three years. 

The bird starts breeding around the shorter rainy seasons, usually towards early November.

Before mating occurs, the male first starts building a nest, which after the female bird examines the nest, the two will mate and then complete building the nest.

The eggs of the red-billed quelea come in faded blue color, and incubation takes 12 days. Upon hatching the eggs, the parents feed the chick with insects and caterpillars.

After two weeks, the chick can live independently, and the female bird can reproduce at a year old if they survive.

2. Blue crane

The Blue Crane is regarded as the national bird of Africa and originates from South Africa

It is very significant among the Xhosa people as they call it ‘Indwe,’ which means flag.

In history, the ancient people of Xhosa used the Blue crane feathers to honor warriors after wars in the Ukundzabela ceremony. 

You can presently spot about 25,000 Blue cranes across South Africa and other African countries.

Features of the Blue Crane

The Blue crane has a darker bluish-grey upper neck and a lighter bluish-grey body. 

The bird looks almost like a cobra when you look at the thick nape and head.

It has wing feathers and a black tail. The bird is about 120 centimeters tall and weighs about 6.2 kg.

Scientific classification of the Blue Crane

  • Scientific name: Anthropoides paradiseus
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Order: Gruiformes
  • Family: Gruidae

Diet of the Blue crane

The blue crane feeds mainly on plants, especially roots, grasses, waste cereal grain, sedges seed, and other plant matters. Some other times, they feed on fish, insects, reptiles, worms, frogs, and a lot more.

Lifecycle of the Blue crane

Blue cranes live for up to 40 years. They breed primarily during summers laying at least two eggs. Their incubation period takes about 33 days, while the chick stays with the parents independently for about five months.

The female bird is already mature enough to mate and reproduce at the age of 3 to 5. Most often, the birds die before they reach one year because of the threats they face among traitors.

3. Common Ostrich

Ostrich or common ostrich, otherwise called Struthio camelus, is a bird native of Southern Africa and across Sub-Sahara Africa. They are giant birds still in existence in the world. 

Features of Common Ostrich

Ostrich is a long-necked bird with legs and a round body shape. Female ostriches come in light brown colors, while the males come in white and black colors to attract females.

Generally, ostrich is very large and weighs 1,500 grams. They have about 9 feet tall, with two toes that enable them to run fast, about 70 kilometers per hour.

Where to find Ostrich in Africa

You can find ostrich in the Southern and Eastern parts of Africa and North Africa across Sudan and Morocco.

Diets of ostrich

Ostrich feeds on rodents, lizards, insects, plant matter, and snakes. To help grind and break down their food, they consume sands and stones.

Scientific Classification of the Ostrich

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Class: Aves
  • Species: S. camelus
  • Order: Struthioniformes
  • Family: Struthionidae
  • Height: 2.1 – 2.8 m (for common ostrich)
  • Genus: Struthio; Linnaeus, 1758
  • Speed: Common ostrich: 70 km/h

Family life of the ostrich

Ostrich lives for about 40 to 70 years, and as long as they live, they continue to breed well. The male attracts the male by spreading its wings.

After the male and female mate, they both care for the egg. Usually, the egg weighs about 3 pounds of 6 by 5 inches.

An ostrich can lay about ten eggs once, and more than one ostrich can lay an egg in a place if they mate the same male. The process is called the communal laying of eggs.

After the eggs hatch, the chicks grow by 1 foot monthly, and in 6 months, they might be almost the same size as the adults.

4. African fish eagle

African fish eagle is often called Africa sea Eagle. The bird is of Sub-Sahara Africa origin and the national bird of Zambia and Namibia. There is about 300,000 bird still living.

Features of African fish eagle

The African fish eagle has almost similar features to the bald eagle. The giant bird has adult females that weigh about 3kg with wings of about 2.4 meters. 

Their males weigh 2kg with a wingspan of about 2 meters. Generally, their length is about 75cm.

They have a snow-white tail, head, and breast with brown eyes. The bird has a yellow beak that has a tip of black color.

Diet of the African fish eagle

The fish species feed primarily on other fish because they live beside open water and feed on birds and other water mammals.

Scientific classification of the African fish eagle

  • Genus: Haliaeetus
  • Species: H. vocifer
  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Class: Aves

Where to find the African fish eagle in Africa

Presently, you can find the African fish eagle across conservation centers, rivers, and lakes in Africa. 

Also, you can spot the bird across Namibia, South Africa’s Orange River, rift valley lake in Central Africa, and Lake Malawi adjoining Mozambique, Tanzania, and Malawi.

Lifecycle of the African sea eagle

The African sea eagle can live for up to 15 years when they are in the wild. Their breeding period varies across regions, while their breeding interval covers from 6 months to 1 year.

5. African wood owl

African wood owl is often called the Woodford’s owl or Strix woodfordii. It originates from Sub-Saharan Africa, and there are about 30 species of African wood owl in Africa.

Features of African Wood Owl

The African wood owl has a medium size of about a height of 30cm and 290g in weight. 

Most of the birds are chocolate in color, and their upper parts and face are of dark rufous color with dark eyes, grey bald head, and white eyebrows.

Habitat of the African Wood Owl

African wood owl lives in forest areas. You can find the bird across Gambia, Kenya, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and South Africa.

Life cycle

The African Wood Owl lives in pairs of male and female birds nest in holes of natural trees. They usually lay a maximum of 2 eggs from July to October with a 31 days incubation period.

The hatched nestling stays about 37 days in the nest. However, their fledglings remain for three weeks and sometimes a minimum of 46 days before they can fly. The African wooden owl lives for about 15 years.

Diet of the African Wood Owl

African wood owls eat beetles, bugs, moths, birds, reptiles, and mammals.

Scientific Classification of the African Wood Owl

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Species: S. woodfordii
  • Family: Strigidae
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Genus: Strix
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Strigiformes

The myth about the African Wood Owl

African wooden owl took its name Strix from the famous atrocious vampire owl that sucks baby’s blood. People also related the bird to cause death, ill-health, and bad luck.

Others believe that the African wood owls represent witches, while some relate it to knowledge and intelligence.

Other species of birds native to the African continent include;

  • Pied kingfisher
  • African Masked Weaver
  • Little Bee-eater
  • Collared Sunbird
  • Malachite Kingfisher
  • Crowned Plover
  • Marabou Stork
  • Eurasian Golden Oriole
  • Sacred Ibis
  • Flamingo
  • Saddle-billed Stork
  • Great Cormorant
  • Secretary Bird
  • Grey Crowned Crane
  • Shoebill Bird
  • Grey Go-Away Birds
  • White-faced Duck
  • Yellow-Billed Hornbill
  • Yellow-billed Oxpecker
  • Yellow-billed Stork
  • Pelican
  • Helmeted Guineafowl
  • Shoebill
  • African barbet
  • Hooded Vulture
  • Kori Bustard
  • Lappet-Faced Vulture
  • Lilac Breasted Roller

How many species of birds are native to the African continent?

Africa is home to over two thousand three hundred (2,300) species of bird. Over 60 percent (60%) of these birds trace their history to Africa.

How many bird species are endemic to Africa?

Out of the over 2,300 species in Africa, one thousand, five hundred and eighty-four (1,584) of the birds are endemic to Africa. The figure above represents 66% of the birds’ species endemic to Africa.

What are the bird species?

There are many species of birds in the world which scientists estimate to be up to ten thousand (10,000). Some species of birds are extinct, while others are still in existence.

What is the most common bird in Africa?

The most common bird in Africa is the red-billed quelea, with over 1.5 billion prevalent. The birds flock in a cluster and watch them from afar, and you will think they smolder in a cloud.


Africa has the most varied of all birds. Even though people that come for Africa safari focus mainly on mammals, these birds still catch the interest of enthusiast bird watchers.

These birds have varieties of unique colors, distinguished with their looks and moves, among other characteristics.

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