Working for birds in Africa



Wed, 02/06/2013 - 13:34 -- abc_admin

The following largely unconfirmed records have appeared in recent Bulletins of the African Bird Club and are for information only.

from ABC Bulletin 23.1

The following records are from the period late May–August 2015. An adult Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus was observed near Duazon, east of Monrovia, on 14 June and 18 August, and an immature Shikra Accipiter badius in Monrovia on 26 August; both species are rarely recorded on the coast. An Ayres’s Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii near Careysburg, c.24 km northeast of Monrovia, on 23 August is a new locality. Also near Careysburg on 23–24 August, i.e. in the rainy season, a group of 5–6 Long-tailed Nightjars Caprimulgus climacurus, including at least two juveniles, was found; Gatter (1997. Birds of Liberia) considers the species to be a dry season visitor and possible resident, but there are no breeding records. Senegal Parrots Poicephalus senegalus are still present in Monrovia, but in much smaller numbers than Rose-ringed Parakeets Psittacula krameri: they were seen only twice in c.20 days between May and late August 2015, with max. five on 27 August, whereas Rose-ringed Parakeets were seen quite regularly; both species are thought to have been introduced and have established local populations. Up to five Ethiopian Swallows Hirundo aethiopica were at Libassa Lodge, Margibi County, east of Monrovia, on 30–31 May. At least one pair of Sharpe’s Apalises Apalis sharpii at Wulki Farm, near Careysburg, on 23–24 August, is a new locality, a considerable distance from the species’ known range. 

from ABC Bulletin 22.1

A colony of Preuss’s Cliff Swallows Pterochelidon preussi was found at the St. Paul River bridge, in northern Monrovia, on 2 June, west of the previously reported colony at Harbel, near the airport. 

from ABC Bulletin 21.2

A short survey in Grand Cape Mount County, in the south-west, in June 2014, confirmed the presence of 62 species new for the relevant square in Gatter (1997. Birds of Liberia). Records of Lead-coloured Flycatcher (=Grey Tit-flycatcher) Myioparus plumbeus and Bioko Batis Batis poensis represent considerable range extensions, although the former has now been recorded both in the east and the west of the country. Additional new square records include those of Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus, Willcocks’s Honeyguide Indicator willcocksi, Green-tailed Bristlebill Bleda eximius, Yellow-bearded Greenbul Criniger olivaceus, Rufous-winged Illadopsis Illadopsis rufescens and Copper-tailed Glossy Starling Lamprotornis cupreicauda.

from ABC Bulletin 21.1

An expedition to eastern Liberia conducted in February - March 2013 to search for the mysterious Liberian Greenbul Phyllastrephus leucolepis, sponsored by the ABC and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife UK partner), was unsuccessful in locating the species, but recorded some others of interest. Eight species were new for the two quarter-degree grid cells targeted by the expedition (that containing Zwedru and the one north of it; cf. Gatter 1997. Birds of Liberia), including Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus, Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis and Plain-backed Pipit Anthus leucophrys, all in Zwedru town. Brown Nightjars Veles binotatus were heard and recorded in Cavalla Forest, north-west of Zwedru (sound-recordings have been uploaded to xeno-canto. org). Other new grid-cell records from the Cavalla Forest were Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti, White-throated Greenbul Phyllastrephus albigularis, Black-capped Apalis Apalis nigriceps and Grey-throated Flycatcher Myioparus griseigularis.

Five globally threatened species were observed. Groups of White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides, including a flock of c.8, were seen in three well-separated locations. Timneh Parrots Psittacus (erithacus) timneh were seen daily, but in small numbers (largest count was of ten on 22 February); they are reportedly trapped to be sold across the border in Côte d’Ivoire. Brown-cheeked Hornbill Bycanistes cylindricus and Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata were reasonably common in Cavalla Forest, the latter being observed on most days. Yellow-bearded Greenbul Criniger olivaceus was not uncommon in closed-canopy forest. Five Near Threatened species were also observed: Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus, Green-tailed Bristlebill Bleda eximius, Rufous-winged Illadopsis Illadopsis rufescens, Copper-tailed Glossy Starling Lamprotornis cupreocauda and Red-fronted Antpecker Parmoptila rubrifrons.

Other records of interest from Cavalla Forest included Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash, Spot-breasted Ibis B. olivacea, Hartlaub’s Duck Pteronetta hartlaubii, Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus, Long-tailed Hawk Urotriorchis macrourus, Forest Wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus castaneiceps, Black Dwarf Hornbill Tockus hartlaubi, African Piculet Sasia africana and Brown-chested Alethe Alethe poliocephala.  Elsewhere in Liberia, House Sparrows Passer domesticus were observed in small numbers at Roberts International Airport, Monrovia, and at Robertsport. Ethiopian Swallows Hirundo aethiopica were also seen at Roberts International Airport and were common in Monrovia.

from ABC Bulletin 19.2

A Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus was observed in Monrovia harbour on 16 - 17 April 2012; this species is only occasionally seen along the country’s coast.

from ABC Bulletin 19.1

Exploration of East Nimba Nature Reserve in April - May 2010 and October - November 2011 produced the following records of interest. A Brown Snake Eagle Circaetus cinereus on 6 April 2010 is a first record for the Nimba region, as is a Blue Quail Coturnix adansonii flushed at 1,190 m on 2 May. A Brown Nightjar Veles binotatus was heard at 860 m on 17 November - the first Nimba record since it was collected at Grassfield in 1971. Flocks of African Black Swifts Apus barbatus migrated south over the mountain on 17 November (up to 50 together), as well as over Yekepa (c.50 on 5 November). A few Black-and-white-casqued Hornbills Bycanistes subcylindricus were seen in 2010 - 11, representing a new species for the area (first noted in 2008–9). A Lyre-tailed Honeyguide Melichneutes robustus displayed near Grassfield on 28 October; this is the first record in decades. An African Broadbill Smithornis capensis was heard in forest at 1,330 m, well above the altitude occupied by Rufous-sided Broadbill S. rufolaterialis. The first breeding record for Liberia of Fanti Saw-wing Psalidoprocne obscura was obtained on 6 May (one bringing lichen to a hole in a bank, at 1,330 m). Several Rock-loving Cisticolas Cisticola aberrans were discovered in rocky grassland in the old mine area (October 2011), this being the first record for the Liberian side of Nimba. An immature White Wagtail Motacilla alba at Yekepa on 27 - 28 October is a new species for Liberia. Sierra Leone Prinia Schistolais leontica was found to be rather local (five locations only), at 1,170–1,350 m, and does not seem to have colonised all forest-edge habitats created by the former mining operations. Nimba Flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae was encountered at four locations, all along the altitudinal gradient to 1,170 m, with one observation at 1,330 m in 2009 - thus well above the previous upper limit of 600 m. At least three territories of African Blue Flycatcher Elminia longicauda were located at forest edge above 1,170 m, a new species for Liberia. Square-tailed Drongo Dicrurus ludwigii was very common above 780 m, replacing Shining Drongo D. atripennis altitudinally. A male indigobird at Grassfield in October 2011 could only be Cameroon Indigobird Vidua camerunensis, given the only firefinch host present is Blue-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta rubricata; this confirms the species for the Liberian list.

Preliminary surveys of the Gba Community Forest in West Nimba in November 2011 revealed the presence of a population of Gola Malimbes Malimbus ballmanni, a new record for Nimba County. Also of interest there were Brown-cheeked Bycanistes cylindricus and Yellow-casqued Hornbills Ceratogymna elata (singles), Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti (one singing at 800 m, on Mount Beeton), Yellow-bearded Greenbul Criniger olivaceus, Green-tailed Bristlebill Bleda eximius, Rufous-winged Illadopsis Illadopsis rufescens and Copper-tailed Starling Lamprotornis cupreocauda, all of which were widespread.

A Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis was photographed between Tweh Town and Popoph Mission, c.5 km from the coast and 20 km east-south-east of Greenville, on 30 June 2011; the species is considered an uncommon and irregular visitor to Liberia, and this seems to be the first record for Sinoe County. A colony of Preuss’s Cliff Swallows Petrochelidon preussi was found under a bridge near Greenville Port in June, representing a further range extension for this species. Ethiopian Swallow Hirundo aethiopica was found in small numbers at Buchanan, on the coast, on 20 November and probably at the international airport on 21 October; the species was first discovered in eastern Liberia in February 2011, but could have been overlooked in the past - the presence of the commensal Red-chested Swallow Hirundo lucida in Liberia is very doubtful, as the male supposedly collected by Büttikofer (cf. Gatter 1997. Birds of Liberia) was later corrected by him to Barn Swallow H. rustica, and his nest with three chicks was not preserved. A Grey Ground Thrush Zoothera princei was observed in Sapo National Park, near Chimp Camp, on 3 July. House Sparrows Passer domesticus were seen in Monrovia: one male in town on 22 October and one at West Point on 21 November, with four or five near the National Port Authority office on 22 November; Northern Grey-headed Sparrow P. griseus remains the common sparrow in Monrovia.

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

In January - March 2011 the following were reported. An Ethiopian Swallow Hirundo aethiopica at Putu camp, north of Sapo National Park, on 17 February constitutes an addition to the country list. Chattering Cisticola Cisticola anonymus, found in a clearing within Gola Forest, near the border with Sierra Leone, on 20 March is another first for Liberia.

Also in Gola Forest, a flock of c.10 Black-collared Lovebirds Agapornis swindernianus was seen on 3 March, a Brown Nightjar Veles binotatus was singing on 21–22 March, and a silent Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti was observed at forest edge on 19 March, whilst another was heard on 20th. Preuss’s Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon preussi was found breeding again under the Du River bridge linking Roberts International Airport to the Firestone Plantation: 80–100 were present on 17 April and >120 on 25 April, including several recently fledged juveniles. This species is spreading west and south and was first found at this site in February 2005. A flock was also observed further west along the coast, at the bridge at the border crossing to Sierra Leone, in March. In Monrovia, a male House Sparrow Passer domesticus was seen on 8 February (AMa), with another on 20 April; there are only two previous records from 20 years ago, plus a recent report from Cape Mount.

An ornithological survey of the Putu Range, adjacent to Sapo National Park in south-east Liberia, in January - February 2011, produced 13 species of global conservation concern, among them White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides, Black-headed Rufous Warbler Bathmocercus cerviniventris, Nimba Flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae (previously known only from four other locations in Liberia) and Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni (seen in three mixed-species flocks). The three large hornbill species of the forest zone, Brown-cheeked Bycanistes cylindricus, Black-casqued Ceratogymna atrata and Yellow-casqued Hornbill C. elata, were still remarkably common, with the globally Near Threatened Yellow-casqued even being abundant. Four Yellow-footed Honeyguides were encountered; there are very few records in Liberia and these are the first for the south-east.

Range extensions or new localities were noted for 57 species, including the following. A male Red-chested Flufftail Sarothrura rufa and a duetting pair were heard at a small swamp; this species is rarely recorded in West Africa and Gatter (1997. Birds of Liberia) mentions only two records, from north-west Liberia. A Brown Nightjar was singing at dawn and dusk on 22 January. Up to four Bates’s Swifts Apus batesi were seen on Mount Jideh; in Liberia, this species was previously known only from the Nimba area and over forests at higher altitudes in northern Lofa County. A Willcocks’s Honeyguide Indicator willcocksi was observed once, whilst single African Piculets Sasia africana were encountered at three widely scattered locations; for the latter species, only two previous records are mentioned for Liberia. A pair of Plain-backed Pipits Anthus leucophrys foraged on a football field at Geeblo village on 29 January; this species penetrates the forest zone through large clearings. Blue-shouldered Robin Chat Cossypha cyanocampter was found at three locations in farmbush at forest edge, whilst singing Grey-throated Flycatchers Myioparus griseigularis were regularly recorded throughout the forest. Lead-coloured Flycatchers M. plumbeus were observed at three locations; curiously, the only records mentioned by Gatter (1997) are of two collected in 1891 near Monrovia, but recently the species was recorded in North Lorma and Gola National Forests, and in the Nimba area.


In Sapo National Park, White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides appeared in a remarkably high proportion of photographs taken by camera traps in 2009; this Upper Guinea forest endemic is considered rare at the site.

During field work at Mts Tokadeh and Gangra and the East Nimba Nature Reserve (ENNR), in the Nimba Mountains, in June - July 2008 and January 2009 the following were recorded. The most interesting find was perhaps that of two pairs of Sierra Leone Prinias Schistolais leontica at the old LAMCO mine site. Other species of conservation concern included Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata (rare; only one location), Western Wattled Cuckooshrike Lobotos lobatus (a male at ENNR), Green-tailed Bristlebill Bleda eximius (all three sites), Yellow-bearded Greenbul Criniger olivaceus (all three sites), Black-headed Rufous Warbler Bathmocercus cerviniventris (six singing males), Nimba Flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae (three locations), Rufous-winged Illadopsis Illadopsis rufescens and Copper-tailed Glossy Starling Lamprotornis cupreocauda. Other noteworthy species included Hartlaub’s Duck Pteronetta hartlaubii (a pair in a swamp at Tokadeh), Bates’s Swift Apus batesi (two sites), Blue-headed Bee-eater Merops muelleri (at all three sites), Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla (one in a patch of savanna at Tokadeh on 22 January; this Palearctic migrant is rarely recorded in Liberia), Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike Campephaga phoenicea (an independent juvenile at Mt Gangra on 13 January; this partial intra-African migrant is a rare visitor to the north), Baumann’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus baumanni (all three sites), Common Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis (at least two at the old LAMCO mine; a rare and local winter visitor), Grey Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus  plumbeus (three at Tokadeh; first record for Nimba, representing a southward range extension) and Fiery-breasted Bushshrike Malaconotus cruentus (at all three sites).

During field work in three National Forests, North Lorma in the north-west, Gola in the west and Grebo in the east, from 19 November to 11 December 2005, some noteworthy records were made. Olive Ibis Bostrychia olivacea was found in North Lorma; the species is not mentioned for the Wologizi area by Gatter (1997, Birds of Liberia). A Spot-breasted Ibis Bostrychia rara flew over the village of Jalipo, Grebo, on 7 and 11 December. A melanistic Black Sparrowhawk Accipiter melanoleucus was seen in Gola; although this is a widespread forest resident in Liberia, it had not previously been recorded in at this site. A Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus was seen at Monrovia on 14 December; this species is mapped only for the north of the country by Gatter (1997). Two groups of White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides were encountered in Grebo Forest. Also in Grebo, Black-collared Lovebird Agapornis swindernianus was observed at two locations; Gatter (1997) mentions that it is a very rare or extinct resident in Liberia. Gola and Grebo constituted new localities for Cassin’s Honeybird Prodotiscus insignis, whereas Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti was recorded at North Lorma. A male Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens was seen well at Voinjama on 26 November; only one previous record, from 1984 near Bawomai, is mentioned by Gatter (1997).

Up to 25 Fanti Saw-wings Psalidoprocne obscura, four Lesser Striped Swallows Hirundo abyssinica, a pair of Plain-backed Pipits Anthus leucophrys and a Black-winged Oriole Oriolus nigripennis were observed at Fishtown, near Grebo, on 11-12 December; these species were not previously mapped for the area. A colony of Preuss’s Cliff Swallows Hirundo preussi numbering c.100 nests was found at Voinjama; this species is said to be a rare (dry-season?) visitor by Gatter (1997). A Western Wattled Cuckoo-Shrike Lobotos lobatus was seen within a mixed-species flock in Grebo. A singing Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat Cossypha cyanocampter observed near Jalipo, Grebo, on 11 December, with another at Fishtown the next day, were not previously mapped for the area. A pair of Black-headed Rufous Warblers Bathmocercus cerviniventris was found near a small stream at Luyema, North Lorma. Up to three Western Olivaceous Warblers Hippolais (pallida) opaca were observed in detail in a clearing in Gola, on 27 November-3 December; this is a new locality for this Palearctic migrant, for which there are apparently only two previous records. In the same clearing, a pair of Short-winged Cisticolas Cisticola brachypterus was singing; this species was apparently known only from coastal and northern savannas. Black-capped Apalis Apalis nigriceps was common in Grebo, which constitutes a new locality, and five singing Nimba Flycatchers Melaenornis annamarulae were also found there. A singing Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus griseigularis was seen at Gola and another at Jalipo, Grebo; this species was previously recorded only from Yekapa / Nimba. Grey Tit-Flycatcher M. plumbeus was found singing at Luyema and in a nearby clearing, North Lorma, on 19 November, and in a clearing in Gola on 27 November-3 December; the only records mentioned by Gatter (1997) are two collected in 1891 near Monrovia. In Gola, a pair of Bioko Batis Batis poensis was observed at their nest, which contained two feathered nestlings on 3 December; this is a new locality for this species, of which very few nests have ever been found. A large rock with 20 nests of White-necked Picathartes Picathartes gymnocephalus was located inside Grebo Forest. A single and a pair of Lagden’s Bush-Shrikes Malaconotus lagdeni were observed in mixed bird parties in Grebo. Two pairs of the endangered Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni, each with a juvenile, were foraging with mixed-species flocks in Gola Forest.

On March 5, 2005, an estimated 2,100 Black Terns Chlidonias niger and 1,100 Royal Terns Sterna maxima were sighted at the Lofa river mouth in Bomi County about 20 km west of Monrovia. These were the highest counts of the species at a single site.

On March 4, 2005, an Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius, a vagrant to Liberia, was sighted along a coastal lagoon near Robertsport, a coastal town about 72 km west of Monrovia.

For the first time in Liberia on February 24, 2005, Preuss's Cliff Swallow Hirundo preussi was sighted on the coast, breeding under the Du River Bridge that links Roberts International Airport to the Firestone Plantation Company. The only record of the species by Wulf Gatter was in Voinjama in the north-west and Mt. Nimba in the north of the country.

In December 2004, the endangered species Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni was sighted at the north-east end of the Sapo National Park in Sinoe County. The two birds were seen nesting in a mature secondary forest about 1km away from the boundary line of the park. As a mark of appreciation and guarantee that the site will be protected, the head of the Site Support Group in the area who guided the assessment team named his boy child Malimbe after the bird. The child was born on the same day the birds were sighted.


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:35 -- abc_admin


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:34 -- abc_admin

BirdLife International (2000) Threatened Birds of the World. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

COLSTON, P. R. & CURRY-LINDAHL, K. (1986) The Birds of Mount Nimba, Liberia. British Museum (Natural History), London.

DICKERMAN, R. W., CANE, W. P., CARTER, M. F., CHAPMAN, A. & SCHMITT, C. G. (1994) Report on three collections of birds from Liberia. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 114 pp 267-274.

DOWSETT, R.J. & FORBES-WATSON, A.D. (1993) Checklist of Birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy Regions. Vol. 1: Species limits and distribution. Tauraco Press. Liège, Belgium.

GATTER, W. (1987) Migration behaviour and wintering of Palaearctic birds in Liberia (West Africa). Bird migration in Liberia I. Verh. Orn. Ges. Bayern 24 pp 479-508.

GATTER, W. (1987) Bird migration in West Africa. Observations and hypotheses on migration strategies and migration routes. Bird migration in Liberia II. Die Vogelwarte 34 pp 80-91.

GATTER, W. (1988a) The coastal wetlands of Liberia: their importance for wintering waterbirds. Int. Counc. For Bird Preservation (ICBP), Study report No. 26. Cambridge.

GATTER, W. (1988b) Midwinter counts of Palaearctic waterbirds in Liberia (West Africa). Verh. Orn. Ges. Bayern 24 pp 659-687.

GATTER, W. and WOODCOCK, M. (Illustrator) (1997) Birds of Liberia. Hardcover - 320 pages. The Pica Press / Christopher Helm, London UK, ISBN: 1-8734-0363-1. Yale University Press, US. ISBN 0-3000-7576-6.

GATTER, W . (2000). Vogelzug und Vogelbestände in Mitteleuropa. Aula Verlag. ISBN 3-8910-4645-6. The 656 page book Bird migration and Bird Populations in Central Europe gives many references to bird migration of Palearctic migrants to West Africa and their population dynamics with links to their wintering ecology in Africa.

ROBERTSON, P. Liberia chapter pp 473-480 in FISHPOOL, L.D.C. and EVANS M.I. editors (2001) Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority sites for conservation. Newbury and Cambridge, UK. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11).


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:33 -- abc_admin

Conservation International (CI) and its partners are helping the Liberian government to better protect the country’s species and ecosystems, in part by ensuring that violence does not return to the forests. In October 2006, collaborators reached a new milestone when Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf signed a forestry reform measure that aims to balance the needs of the country’s depleted forests with those of its human communities. It signifies a new era of governance and the rule of law,” says Alex Peal, director of Conservation International-Liberia. “There is a legal framework governing the protection, use, and conservation of this significant heritage that was blatantly abused for personal gains, fueled the war, and deprived a majority of the citizenry of their birth rights.”

BirdLife International has secured US $650,000 from the Critical Ecosystems Partnership for a new project in the Upper Guinea forests of West Africa. The three year project will capitalise upon IBA conservation work undertaken by the Ghana Wildlife Society and Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, and will also establish national IBA programmes in Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea and Liberia.

Liberia has 10 National Forests which are to be managed for timber production and a National Park, Sapo. This gives some measure of protection to about 14% of the total area of the country and some 30% of closed forest. Other National Parks and Nature Reserves have been proposed but have not yet been implemented.

Hunting has reduced Liberia’s fauna significantly and although there are controls on hunting, in practice gun ownership is high and much of the population depend on bush meat as a source of protein. Hunting for birds depends on the prices of cartridges. Large bird species are rare in all accessible areas of the country, but some species such as large hornbills and storks have recovered locally during the war. This is true also for many smaller species of about pigeon size due to the high price of gun shot.

The major environmental issues can be summarised as tropical rain forest deforestation, soil erosion in the north, loss of biodiversity and pollution of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage.

Liberia is party to several international environmental conventions including Biodiversity, Climate Change - Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83 and Tropical Timber 94.

Books & Sounds

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:32 -- abc_admin

The western and central parts of Africa now have an excellent guide in the Birds of Western Africa by Borrow and Demey. It is a fantastic reference work and thoroughly recommended. It covers 23 countries south of the Sahara, from Mauritania in the northwest, to Chad and Central African Republic in the east, and Congo Brazzaville in the southeast, include the Cape Verde and Gulf of Guinea Islands. The paperback version is much more portable than the hard cover edition and it is ideal for the field, although there is less detail.

Birds of Africa south of the Sahara also covers the same countries except the Cape Verde Islands.


Book image: 
Book info: 
Birds of Western Africa, Nik Borrow & Ron Demey, Helm, Hardback.
Book description: 

Helm Identification Guide. 147 plates depicting over 1280 species in 2800 individual figures. Covers Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Rio Muni, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, part of Mauritania and the islands of Sao Tome, Principe and Bioko (Fernando Po). All the species described are illustrated in colour apart from a few vagrants, which are depicted in black-and-white in the text. Distribution maps are provided for the majority of species (except vagrants). 832 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Field Guide to the Birds of Western Africa, Nik Borrow & Ron Demey, Helm, Softback.
Book description: 

Helm Field Guide. Utilises all the plates from the Helm ID Guide by the same authors, with a concise, authoritative text on facing pages, to create a guide covering all 1,304 species found in the region. The guide also contains an updated colour distribution map for each species and a number of new images have been painted just for this guide. Covers Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Rio Muni, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, part of Mauritania and the islands of Sao Tome, Principe and Bioko (Fernando Po). 512 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Birds of Africa South of the Sahara, Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

Second edition, including 500 new images and 400 updated distribution maps. Unrivalled coverage of African birds in a single volume. 2129+ species covered with an additional 101 vagrants briefly described. Revised to reflect the latest changes in taxonomy. Species descriptions give precise identification features highlighting differences between similar species as well as briefly reporting habitat, status and call. Annotated illustrations portray distinctive plumages as well as diagnostic flight patterns and major geographic variants where applicable.


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:30 -- abc_admin

Lake Piso, Liberia

Image Credit: 
Alan G. Johnston

Birding tours

We know of no organised tours to Liberia.


See the trip report in the following section for further information.

Trip reports

This trip report titled "Birding in and around Monrovia, Liberia" was kindly sent to ABC for download by Alan G. Johnston following a visit to the Monrovia area of Liberia in January / February 2012. Download the report*.


The best route from Europe is via Brussels but several West African airlines (e.g. Slok and Bellview) with mixed safety ratings connect all the major capitals of West Africa including connections to Accra, Dakar, and Banjul.

Birding in Liberia remains a logistical challenge. Infrastructure is non-existent or badly damaged by the war. The road from Monrovia to Talla (see hotspots) is paved for most of the way but the last hour (maybe 10 miles) is on very challenging rutted dirt and sand tracks which requires 4x4 vehicles. Talla has no hotel or restaurant although an international NGO has built a new school and clinic. The local manor house was totally destroyed during the war but the grounds make a fine campground. The villagers are friendly and accommodating but do expect some compensation for 'hosting' a camp. Interestingly, cell phones work since the area is near Robertsport, probably an hour away by canoe.


Please read the safety and travel advice before travelling to Liberia. Links for the US and UK are provided below. Should you decide to travel, it is important to note that the use of binoculars and cameras can generally cause problems in Liberia.

Other safety and health issues are no different from those in many African countries. Guidebooks, travel companies and websites provide much of the advice one needs, but key points warrant repetition here: (1) be aware of the risk of malaria and seek current advice, sleep in a sealed tent or under a net and take prophylaxis as recommended; (2) always ensure you have sufficient water and some method of purification (even if this comprises a pot and a campfire for boiling); (3) do not underestimate the danger of being in the sun for too long, ensure you use sun-block, drink plenty of water and wear a hat; (4) be aware of the risk of AIDS; (5) ensure that you take a reasonably-equipped first-aid pack with you including supplies of hypodermic and suturing needles. See the following 2 websites for the latest safety and travel information: US Travel and UK FCO.

* In order to view and print this paper, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:29 -- abc_admin

TerraVilla Gardens Farm, Liberia

Image Credit: 
Alan G. Johnston

All Liberian IBA sites hold many of the Upper Guinea Endemic Bird Area species. The best example is the small Zwedru IBA with a high amount of forest destruction but three years of research. 12 of the 15 EBA species and 160 of the 184 species of the Guinea Congo forest biome that occur in Liberia were found there. This is a high percentage of species when compared to the much more intact and huge Cestos-Senkwehn forest area where 8 of the 15 EBA species and 99 of the 184 Liberian Guinea-Congo forest biome species have been found but in only one week of research. In most of the IBAs, comparable numbers of forest bird species can be expected. In other parts of Liberia, comparable numbers of species can be found even outside protected areas.

Mount Nimba Despite the former mining activities that have reduced the height of this mountain and the consequent loss of forest, probably all restricted range and localized endemics published by Colston & Curry-Lindahl (1984) and Gatter (1997) still exist here. A new mining agreement has been negotiated with Mittal Steel by the Liberian government and which will increase activity over the next few years. As part of the agreement various national and international conservation groups will map the area and document species which are found there.

Sapo National Park As Liberia's first and only fully protected area, Sapo has been the focal point of conservation efforts in Liberia since its creation in 1983. Covering 107,300 ha, the Park consists of lowland rainforest including swampy areas, dry land and riparian forests. It represents one of, if not the most intact forest ecosystem in Liberia. The Park remains reasonably connected by forested corridors to several other forest areas to the north, west and south-east, extending into Côte d'Ivoire. It is thus at the heart of the largest remaining forest block of the Upper Guinean Forest ecosystem, providing habitat to species that need to range over large areas, such as forest elephants. A faunal monitoring program was established at the Park in 2001. It quickly became clear that the Park haboured some of the richest and least disturbed wildlife in West Africa's rainforests.

In 2005 and 2006 the UN has worked to clear excombatants out of the park with limited success. As long as markets exist for bush meat, gold and diamonds and neighboring villages remain poor and underemployed, the temptation will remain to utilise the park for all possible resources.

Other birding hotspots

In these times when travelling in Liberia is not easy, it is worth mentioning some birding hotspots which are easily accessible for visitors to the capital.

Mesurado River system is a huge mangrove river and tidal influenced swamp system. It holds many waders, herons and egrets. It is surrounded by the capital Monrovia and can be explored by canoe tours arranged with local fishermen.

Junk River system is between Robertsfield Airport and Duport, a Monrovian suburb. There is an extended swamp system extending over a length of about 50 km with many arms of Mangrove creeks and brackish as well as fresh water rivers and swamp forests, many of them cut down for firewood in recent years during the war. There are many places which allow access for canoe trips, enabling one to see a hundred species in a day.

Lagoons of Congotown and Paynesville From the eastern parts of Monrovia, there are several nice lagoons which can be reached easily within a km of the main road, which hold a rich avifauna and stretch from Paynesville junction all the way to Schiefflinsville.

Forest —Savanna mosaics Between Monrovia and Paynesville and Schiefflinsville along the road to Robertsfield International Airport or the rough road to Marshall (accessible only during dry season), there are many possibilities for relatively undisturbed observations.

Quarries in Monrovia at UN-Drive Not far from the American Embassy towards the suburb "Waterside" there are old quarries along the steep rocky beach with extended fresh water ponds, little forests and mangrove allowing the observation of many interesting birds.

Sea watching at Mamba Point In both migration seasons, Mamba point, a rocky coast east of the American Embassy in Monrovia allows observations of passing sea birds.

The following information was received on 30/01/07 following a weekend trip to Talla in Grand Cape Mount County near Lake Piso. Highlights of the trip included Woodland Halcyon senegalensis, Grey-headed H. leucocephala, Blue-Breasted H. malimbica, Pied Ceryle rudis and Malachite Kingfishers Alcedo cristata, Yellow-Rumped Pogoniulus bilineatus, Red-Rumped P.atroflavus, Yellow-Throated P. subsulphureus and Speckled Tinkerbirds P. scolopaceus, Vieillot's Barbet Lybius vieilloti, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-Shrike Campephaga phoenicea, Whinchat Saxicola rubetra, Johanna's Cinnyris johannae, Variable C. venustus, Brown Anthreptes gabonicus, Western Olive Cyanomitra obscura and Buff-Throated Sunbirds Chalcomitra adelberti, Capuchin Babbler Phyllanthus atripennis and Violet-backed Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster.


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:26 -- abc_admin

Country checklist and status


We are delighted that our Corporate Sponsor iGoTerra has made its country checklists, including subspecies (IOC or Clements) as well as all other species groups like mammals, butterflies etc. available through the ABC website. The only thing required is a Basic membership / registration which is free of charge. Go to Liberia checklists. If you are already a member of iGoTerra, you will be taken directly to the country page. In case you are not a member, you will be redirected automatically to the registration form and from there can go straight to the country page.

The annotated checklist published in 1997 in Birds of Liberia (see visiting - field guides) included 610 species. At present there are about 617 species known from the country.

Endemic species

Liberian Greenbul Phyllastrephus leucolepis

Near endemic species (found in 3 or less African countries)

Nimba Flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae
Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni

The following species of the Upper Guinea forests Endemic Bird Area are also found in Liberia.

White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides
Rufous Fishing-owl Scotopelia ussheri
Brown-cheeked Hornbill Bycanistes cylindricus
Western Wattled Cuckoo-Shrike Lobotos lobatus
Green-tailed Bristlebill Bleda eximius
Yellow-bearded Greenbul Criniger olivaceus
Black-headed Rufous Warbler Bathmocercus cerviniventris
Sierra Leone Prinia Prinia leontica
Sharpe's Apalis Apalis sharpii
White-necked Picathartes Picathartes gymnocephalus
Rufous-winged Illadopsis Illadopsis rufescens
Copper-tailed Starling Lamprotornis cupreocauda


Threatened species

Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni Vulnerable
White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides Vulnerable
Rufous Fishing-owl Scotopelia ussheri Endangered
Western Wattled Cuckoo-Shrike Lobotos lobatus Vulnerable
Liberian Greenbul Phyllastrephus leucolepis Critical
Green-tailed Bristlebill Bleda eximius Vulnerable
Yellow-bearded Greenbul Criniger olivaceus Vulnerable
White-necked Picathartes Picathartes gymnocephalus Vulnerable
Sierra Leone Prinia Prinia leontica Vulnerable
Nimba Flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae Vulnerable
Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni Endangered

The lists of endemic, near endemic and threatened species have been compiled from a number of sources including the African Bird Club, BirdLife International 2000, and Birds of the World Version 2.0 ® 1994-1996, Dr. Charles Sibley and Thayer Birding Software, Ltd.

Important Bird Areas

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:26 -- abc_admin

Almost the whole of Liberia falls within the Upper Guinea forests Endemic Bird Area (EBA) and all 15 of its endemic species are found. It also lies entirely within the Guinea-Congo Forest biome and 184 species characteristic of this biome have been found herein. Liberian Greenbul Phyllastrephus leucolepis has only been recorded from a limited area in the east of the country, while Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni is almost entirely confined to Liberia. This serves to highlight the importance of Liberia’s high forests which a few years ago still covered some 40% of the land area. Much more is still covered with secondary forests which also host a rich avifauna. Liberia’s coastal wetlands on the other hand are relatively unimportant ornithologically by comparison with Sierra Leone and Guinea (Gatter 1988a, b). Most of the lagoons, especially in the central coast are still surrounded by heavy forest which leaves little room for mudflats and sandspits. Water levels are high, due to annual precipitation between 2,000 mm in the north and between 3,000 and 5,000 mm along the coast. The best time for waders, egrets and herons is when water levels are at their lowest level between March and May.

Nine Important Bird Areas (IBAs) have been identified which cover 5,800 km2 or 6% of the land area. All sites comprise substantial areas of forest being representative of the Guinea-Congo Forests biome, and one site qualifies in addition for its congregation of waterbirds. The sites are listed below. The number of species found at each site is more a reflection of the work which has been done there rather than their real value.

Wologizi mountains are an isolated upland area in the north-west of the country and include Liberia’s highest peak, Mount Wuteve.

Wonegizi mountains are also in the north-west of the country adjacent to the Guinea border and are an extension of a large and long mountain range stretching from Guinea into Liberia.

Lofa-Mano is a proposed National Park in western Liberia which includes part of the Liberian Gola National Forest. It is contiguous with the Gola Forest Reserves IBA in Sierra Leone and is the least researched of the Liberian IBAs.

Nimba mountains in the north-east of the country are shared with Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire and have contiguous IBAs with both countries. The forest avifauna seems to be extremely rich compared to other IBAs but this is mainly due to the large amount of research which has been carried out there (see Zwedru Forest).

Cape Mount is a proposed Nature Reserve on the coast in the extreme west of the country near the town of Robertsport lying at a large flat ocean bay with a neighbouring large lagoon called Lake Piso. Between Lake Piso and the ocean lies the Cape Mount Peninsula, one of the most beautiful landscapes along the West African coast.

Zwedru is fragmented forest located in east central Liberia, north-west of the town of Zwedru. The Cavalla River which is the frontier with Côte d'Ivoire forms the northern boundary of the IBA. The forests of the area are being destroyed by slash and burn agriculture. This is the only known site for Liberian Greenbul Phyllastrephus leucolepis and holds a large population of Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni. Three years of intensive research make it the best researched area of Liberia apart from Mt. Nimba.

Cestos-Senkwehn lies in the lowly populated coastal centre of Liberia between the towns of Buchanan and Greenville and stretches inland from the coast for some 70 km.

Sapo National Park is located in south-east Liberia some 70 km inland from the coastal town of Greenville.

Cavalla River in Grebo National Forest is enclosed on three sides by the Cavalla River and is on the international border with Côte d'Ivoire in the far east of the country.

For further details, download the country IBAs from BirdLife International.


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