For the Birds

Africa’s Big Game will always be the Big Hit, but Africa’s big and little birds are nothing short of spectacular. Since I posted the first bird list, we’ve added the following:

  • Barn owl
  • Black-collared barbet
  • African darter
African darter and pied kingfishers

African darter drying out and two pied kingfishers hunting.

We see darters and kingfishers and loads of other birds on the river by the house.

  • Fork-tailed drongo
  • Black kite
  • Gray go-away bird
Gray go-away bird

Gray go-away bird. There’s a perfectly good explanation for that name.

The go-away bird gets its name from its call. It makes a very whiny, nasal sound that sounds like “awaaaaaaay.” There’s supposed to be a “go” sound before that, but, honestly, we don’t hear it.

We can imitate this bird well.

  • Red-billed buffalo weaver
  • Western cattle egret
  • Crowned lapwing
  • Helmeted guineafowl
Helmeted guineafowl

Helmeted guineafowl

We see these things on every safari drive, but they’ve been terribly hard to photograph, always racing away when we stop.

I call them “helmet-head turkeys.”

  • Pied crow
  • Magpie shrike
  • Crimson-breasted shrike
  • Hamerkop


There’s a hamerkop nest here on the property. It’s as big as some bald eagle nests, but there’s a hole into it, so I think the birds go in rather than sit on top.

This bird picked a trapped and drowning frog out of the pool and tossed it around until it got it down the hatch. Yum! Lucky bird.

Poor frog. Nature sucks.

  • Gray-headed kingfisher
  • Pied babbler
  • Purple indigobird
  • Common moorhen
  • Lilac-breasted roller
Lilac-breasted roller

Lilac-breasted roller

We see these rollers on our early-morning walks through the neighborhood.

Shikra hanging by its feet from a bird feeder.

Shikra hanging by its feet from a bird feeder.

This shikra grabbed one of the small birds in a feeder here in the yard. It didn’t work out quite the way the shikra had hoped, which greatly benefited the small bird.

Northern black korhaan

Northern black korhaan

This thing makes an awful racket.

  • Kori bustard
  • African gray hornbill
  • White-crested helmet shrike
  • Arnot’s chat
  • White-browed sparrow weaver
  • Little bee eater
Little bee-eater

Little bee-eater

We see these on our early-morning river walk.

  • Knob-billed duck
  • White-backed vulture
  • Black-crowned night heron
  • Burchell’s starling
  • Southern yellow-billed hornbill
Southern yellow-billed hornbill

Southern yellow-billed hornbill

We mostly see the red-billed hornbills, so finding these was fun.

Southern red-billed hornbill

Southern red-billed hornbill

The hornbills we’re seeing don’t look anything like Zazu from The Lion King. I find that a little disappointing when such care was taken to get the look and movement of the lions just right. They brought lions into the studio so the illustrators could watch and study them. I think they could have been more accurate with the hornbill.

African openbill

African openbill. Huh. I wonder why it’s called that?

The openbill was on the first bird list, but we didn’t have a picture then. We see them daily on the river by the house. They poke around in the mud and catch snails.

Categories: Africa, Africa, Travel

3 replies »

  1. Oooh! So pretty! I envy you! A cross-stitched picture of the little bee eater would be cool.