Working for birds in Africa

African Checklist - Introduction and Scope

Brief version history

Date Changes
June 2005 Original checklist published
January 2007 Taxonomic review, additon of range and status of non passerines, species additions. Details here
January 2008 Review of English names, range & status of passerines. Additions, particularly of vagrants. Details here
May 2009 Taxonomic and scientific review of updates from the main authorities. Review of English names and a brief review of French names. Significant changes to the species list. Details here
March 2010* Updates and changes noted from Volume 14 of Handbook of the Birds of the World, Clements checklist version 6.4, IOC revised versions up to and including 2.4 and Birdlife version 2. These updates have revised a few preferred names but have mostly resulted only in changes to the notes. Details here

*Current version

Download the checklist

African Bird Club Checklist. Compiled by Peter Lack.

Introduction to the March 2010 version including changes over previous versions here

Non-Passerines Download here

Passerines Download here

Introduction & Scope

The African Bird Club has, since 2002 published a Checklist of African Birds. A preliminary version was put onto the Internet in August 2002, with a request for comments and suggestions. Several people responded with a series of very helpful notes and corrections, many of which have been incorporated.

Until the end of 2003, in an attempt to ensure that readers and others could find out from a single widely available reference what form was being considered, the Club rigidly followed the names used in the volumes of Birds of Africa, or at least gave the name used there as an alternative, in all publications and in particular the Bulletin of the African Bird Club. For those species not covered by Birds of Africa, eg those on the Indian Ocean islands, it was requested that authors used a standard known reference for these, such as Dowsett & Forbes-Watson (1993).

Taxonomy is not an exact science, views are continually changing and, to a degree, everyone has their own views. In particular it has been recognised for some time that some of the names and classifications in Birds of Africa (especially the earlier volumes) were not in keeping with current thinking. The Club still considers it essential that the Bulletin, and any other publications, should use a standard set of names. It is hoped that others may consider this to be a standard and also follow it. From 2004 the Club has used this list as its source.

The Club continues to monitor taxonomic changes and this list will certainly not be the last word on the subject. It will be kept under review and taxonomic and nomenclature changes will be made periodically as they are thought necessary. Additional species recorded will be added similarly. Indeed with this latest revision, all names for which there was disagreement between sources were reviewed specifically and in a fair number of cases the preferred scientific name and in some cases the English name has been changed to reflect general current thinking (see list of changes at Version History).

The list covers all species recorded in the area covered by the African Bird Club: mainland continental Africa and its immediate islands, and including North Africa; the Indian Ocean islands of Seychelles, Comoros, Madagascar and Mascarenes; Socotra; the southern ocean islands of Amsterdam, Kerguelen, Marion, Prince Edward, and Crozet; the islands on the mid Atlantic Ridge (Tristan group (including Gough), Ascension, St Helena); and the Cape Verde Islands, Canaries, Madeira and the Azores.

The list comprises a set of preferred names (scientific, English and French) with notes of alternative classifications and names adopted by other texts.


I would like to thank all those people who have responded specifically to earlier versions, in particular Nik Borrow, Jon Fjeldsa, Giles Mulholland and Steve Preddy. As they and others will see, not all of their suggestions have been incorporated as they did not always agree either with each other or with me but the comments have certainly improved the accuracy and, in my opinion, usefulness of the final result.

Please note errors, and in particular additional species to be included (when accepted) to .

Peter Lack African Bird Club

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