Working for birds in Africa



Wed, 02/06/2013 - 15:23 -- abc_admin

Pink-footed Puffback Dryoscopus angolensis Nigeria

Image Credit: 
Tasso Leventis

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

from ABC Bulletin 22.2

The following species, found on the Okpara River, the boundary between Benin and Nigeria, at 08°16’N, on 12 - 13 April 2015, represent northerly extensions of their known ranges in south-west Nigeria west of the Niger River: Green Turaco Tauraco persa, Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius, Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus, Black-throated Coucal Centropus leucogaster, Wood Owl Strix woodfordii, Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica, Baumann’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus baumanni, Grey-headed Bristlebill Bleda canicapillus, Western Nicator Nicator chloris, Green Crombec Sylvietta virens, Yellow White-eye Zosterops senegalensis and Tropical Boubou Laniarius aethiopicus. For most of these species there were previously no records north of Ile-Ife, at 07°29’N. Little Weaver Ploceus luteolus represents a significant extension south from the Niger River at Kainji. 

from ABC Bulletin 22.1

In 2014, breeding was recorded for the first time in Nigeria for Spot-breasted Ibis Bostrychia rara (a nest containing one egg at Abo Ebam, Boki Local Government Area, Cross River State) and African Grass Owl Tyto capensis (a nest with two chicks at 1,500 m in Becheve Nature Reserve, Obudu Plateau; the latter is also the first record for the species in the country.

Records from April 2013–July 2014 from CERCOPAN’s Rhoko Camp, situated within the buffer zone of the Oban Division of Cross River National Park (CRNP), Cross River State, include the following. Black-eared Ground Thrush Geokichla camaronensis, a new species for Nigeria, was encountered on four occasions, including at least one recently fledged juvenile; this species is known from nearby Korup National Park, Cameroon. Brown Nightjar Veles binotatus was found to be resident; the species was previously known from one other site in Nigeria, Erokhut Camp, also in the Oban Division of CRNP, in 2009. A Buff-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura elegans sang almost every night throughout the dry season from mid-December 2013 to early March 2014; there is only one previous record, of a bird taken at Ubiaja in April 1935 (Elgood et al. 1994. The Birds of Nigeria). Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti, known previously only from Erokhut, in the Oban Division of CRNP, was recorded on several occasions in April–July 2014. A Grey Ground Thrush Geokichla princei was observed on 4 June 2013; there are only a handful of records in Nigeria, the most recent in 1997.

Other species that are rarely recorded in the country or are at the western edge of their range include the following. White-crested Tiger Heron Tigriornis leucolopha was seen twice at dusk in April–May 2013. Spot-breasted Ibises Bostrychia rara flew in twos or threes over Rhoko Camp at dusk on three dates in February–April 2014. Red-thighed Sparrowhawk Accipiter erythropus was recorded approximately once per month. A pair of Chestnut-flanked Sparrowhawks A. castanilius displayed regularly in April–July 2013. Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus was observed singly or in pairs, once four together; most records were in January–February 2014 when birds were often displaying above the forest. Black Guineafowl Agelastes niger was encountered regularly, being more conspicuous and vocal in the dry season. Nkulengu Rail Himantornis haematopus was particularly vocal at night during the late dry season until the start of the rains (February–June 2014) when up to three pairs could be heard duetting. Vermiculated Fishing Owl Scotopelia bouvieri, Akun Eagle Owl Bubo leucostictus and Sjöstedt’s Owlet Glaucidium sjostedti were found regularly throughout the year. One or two Black Spinetails Telacanthura melanopygia were frequent in April– early May 2013 and occasionally thereafter until mid July, with a pair in aerial display on 12 July; in 2014, there was only a single record, of one, on 21 April. Bare-cheeked Trogon Apaloderma aequatoriale was heard singing almost daily, especially during the dry season in late November–mid March. Up to six Blue-moustached Bee-eaters Merops mentalis were observed regularly at Ebontema Tourist Camp in late April–May 2013, with up to three there in October 2013–early April 2014; the species has not previously been recorded in the wet season. Lyre-tailed Honeyguide Melichneutes robustus was heard on 25 and 27 July 2014, whilst Cassin’s Honeybird Prodotiscus insignis was noted on 29 July and 11 September 2013. Forest Swallow Petrochelidon fuliginosa was first recorded on 8 November 2013 and up to three were subsequently observed regularly, with a group of 20 on 14 January; the species was probably previously overlooked. Black Saw-wing Psalidoprocne pristoptera was an unexpected dry-season visitor, frequenting the ecotone between forest and farmland, with five present from 8 October 2013 until mid January and ten on 20 October. Rufous Flycatcher Thrush Stizorhina fraseri was recorded in October 2013–January 2014, whilst Kemp’s Longbill Macrosphenus kempi and Yellow Longbill M. flavicans were found to be scarce residents. Presumably the same Rufous-vented Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone rufocinerea was seen several times in the dry season, between 24 November 2013 and 20 January 2014. A pair of Tiny Sunbirds Cinnyris minullus was observed regularly, whilst Johanna’s Sunbird C. johannae was also present. A Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus was singing on 16 January 2014.

Sjöstedt’s Honeyguide Greenbul Baeopogon clamans, Eastern Bearded Greenbul Criniger chloronotus, Lesser Bristlebill Bleda notatus, Xavier’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus xavieri, Yellow-footed Flycatcher Muscicapa sethsmithi and Rachel’s Malimbe Malimbus racheliae were common, whilst Long-tailed Hawk Urotriorchis macrourus, Cassin’s Hawk Eagle Aquila africana, Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata (one of eight hornbill species present) and Woodhouse’s Antpecker Parmoptila woodhousei were frequent. The records above were made within a 400-ha core area protected by CERCOPAN, a conservation charity, in community forest. The area provides excellent birding opportunities with numerous trails and a research grid transect system. Rhoko Camp, located at the heart of the core area, offers comfortable tourist accommodation and is easily accessed by motorbike taxi from Iko Esai village. Birders are very welcome: contact or see for details. 

from ABC Bulletin 20.1

A Slender-billed Weaver Ploceus pelzelni was photographed feeding a young Didric Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius on Bonny Island, one of Nigeria’s coastal barrier islands, on 7 December 2010; although the weaver is known to parasitise Didric Cuckoo in East Africa, this is the first record for Nigeria.

from ABC Bulletin 19.1

During a visit to Anwase, Kwande, in Benue State, near the border with Cameroon, on 6 - 8 January 2012, a flufftail observed at dusk at the Kwande River with a telescope was identified as a female Chestnut-headed Flufftail Sarothrura lugens; this would be the first record for Nigeria. A Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens with heavily streaked underparts suggests it belonged to the subspecies sharpii, known to occur from Cameroon eastwards. A paradise flycatcher Terpsiphone sp. was seen with dark grey underparts, similar to Bates’s T. batesi and Rufous-vented Paradise Flycatchers T. rufocinerea, but with the upperparts dark grey as well (not rufous); the vent was dark rufous and the eye-ring was the usual bright blue. A male Tiny Sunbird Cinnyris minullus was found at the edge of regenerating forest. 

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

A male Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus visited a garden in Jos on 26 April 2011; according to Elgood et al. (1994. The Birds of Nigeria) the species is uncommon to rare and possibly only a vagrant in the country.


A huge roost of Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica, possibly comprising millions of birds, was reported for the first time from the vicinity of Butatong, near the headquarters of the Okwangwo Division of Cross River National Park, in late December 2007; according to a local farmer, the roost has been in use for over five years.

Among the Subalpine Warblers Sylvia cantillans mist-netted in Dagona Bird Sanctuary, northern Nigeria, in February 2007, the great majority proved to be of the subspecies moltoni (sometimes proposed as a separate species, Moltoni’s Warbler), with the rest being of the nominate race. Whereas the latter were very fat and not in moult, the former lacked any fat and were moulting their wing feathers. Adult S. c. cantillans and S. c. albistriata undergo a complete moult in their breeding quarters and the juveniles a partial one, whereas the moult of moltoni is very complex, with adults undergoing a complete moult either in their breeding or winter quarters, and the juveniles a complete moult in Africa. Previously, nothing was known concerning the wintering range of moltoni.

A belated record from 2006 concerns a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos photographed c.10 km inshore from the Imo River estuary at Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State, south-east Nigeria, on 22 October; this apparently represents the first record for Nigeria.

During a birding trip in October 2005, a Red-chested Flufftail Sarothrura rufa was heard calling in the grounds of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) at Ibadan on 13-14th; this species is very rare in Nigeria, with only two previously published records. Bocage's Bush-shrike Malaconotus bocagei, for which there are no previously published records, was found at Belekiti on the Obudu Plateau, near the border with Cross River National Park, on 21st.

Records from October 2004-January 2005 include the following. Surveys of Cross River National Park (CRNP) and adjacent areas in south-east Nigeria between 16 November and 21 December 2004 revealed three new species for the country: Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti at Erokut in western CRNP, Oban Division, Mount Kupe Bush-Shrike Telophorus kupeensis in the north-eastern CRNP, Okwangwo Division, in the former Boshi Extension Forest Reserve, and Ursula’s Sunbird Cinnyris ursulae in the proposed extension in eastern CRNP, Oban Division, and in Okwangwo Division. The latter two were known previously only from Cameroon. The sought-after Mount Kupe Bush-Shrike is listed as Endangered and was known from three sites in an area of 200 km2; this Nigerian record extends the previously known range by c150 km. Other species rarely recorded in Nigeria included the following: Olive Ibis Bostrychia olivacea, Spot-breasted Ibis B. rara, Long-tailed Hawk Urotriorchis macrourus, Latham’s Forest Francolin Francolinus lathami, Nkulengu Rail Himantornis haematopus, Lemon Dove Columba larvata, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx olivinus, Sjöstedt's Owlet Glaucidium sjostedti, Black Spinetail Telacanthura melanopygia, Bates’s Swift Apus batesi, Bare-cheeked Trogon Apaloderma aequatoriale, Blue-headed Bee-eater Merops muelleri, Spotted Honeyguide Indicator  maculatus, Green-backed Woodpecker Campethera cailliautii, Yellow-crested Woodpecker Dendropicos xantholophus, Grey-headed Broadbill Smithornis sharpei, Forest Swallow Hirundo fuliginosa, Golden Greenbul Calyptocichla serina, Sjöstedt’s Honeyguide Greenbul Baeopogon clamans, Xavier’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus xavieri, Bocage’s Akalat Sheppardia bocagei, Crossley’s Ground Thrush Zoothera crossleyi (this species is common on Obudu and in Okwangwo but is new to Oban), Lemon-bellied Crombec Sylvietta denti, Olivaceous Flycatcher Muscicapa olivascens, Yellow-footed Flycatcher M. sethsmithi, Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus griseigularis, Forest Penduline Tit Anthoscopus flavifrons, Green-throated Sunbird Chalcomitra rubescens crossensis, Johanna’s Sunbird Cinnyris johannae, Bates’s Sunbird C. batesi, Green-breasted Bush-Shrike Malaconotus gladiator, Pink-footed Puffback Dryoscopus angolensis and Woodhouse's (Red-headed) Antpecker Parmoptila woodhousei. In addition, there was a possible sighting of a Black Guineafowl Agelastes niger and two independent reports from reliable local observers of the continued presence of this species in Nigeria


At Okomu National Park, a pair of Cassin's Hawk Eagles Spizaetus africanus was sighted on 23 October. A Cassin's Honeybird Prodotiscus insignis and a female Johanna's Sunbird were also recorded, and a pair of Bioko Batis Batis poensis was photographed on 30 January.

On the Jos Plateau, a Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca was seen on 9 December and a Red-capped Lark Calandrella cinerea had returned to the site. On 29 October an amazing 48 Golden Nightjars Caprimulgus eximius were found dead on the road from Maiduguri to Mongonu on the shores of Lake Chad. On 16 December, a Yellow-footed Flycatcher was feeding young at Buanchor, Cross River State. On the Obudu Plateau, a Pink-footed Puffback was observed on 11-12 December. A pair of Red-bellied Malimbe Malimbus erythrogaster on 13 December in Bashu village, just north of CRNP, Okwangwo Division, appears to be the first report for many years from Nigeria. A large owl, seen in Afi River Forest Reserve on 10 February, appears to have been a Shelley's Eagle Owl Bubo shelleyi; the roosting bird, found in the middle of the day and observed at close quarters, was described as being significantly larger than African Wood Owl Strix woodfordii and having broad dark brown and white bars on the underparts, from the throat down, which rules out Fraser's Eagle Owl Bubo poensis. This is the first report of this rare and spectacular owl in Nigeria. Also there, African Piculet Sasia africana was another first for the country; the very short tail, bare red skin around the eye, reddish legs, dark grey underparts and olive-green upperparts were all noted.

Despite not having been seen in 2003, Locust-Finches Paludipasser locustella have reappeared in 2004 at Rock Water Fish Farm on the Jos Plateau in central Nigeria. This suggests that their occurrence there in 2002 was part of a western range expansion rather than a case of vagrancy.

Interesting records by Phil Hall (PH) in 2004 include a Johanna’s Sunbird Cinnyris johannae at Okomu National Park on 24 January. This constituted only the 4th record for Nigeria. The Cameroon race of African Finfoot Podica senegalensis camerunensis was seen in Okomu on 25 January. A pair of Red-capped Larks Calandrella cinerea was seen at Amurum, Jos, on 16 February. These had been recorded throughout the previous month but prior to this, there had only been a few records in the last 30 years. At least 6 Crossley’s Ground-Thrushes Zoothera crossleyi were singing on Obudu Plateau from 2 to 4 May. A record of a Blue-bellied Roller Coracias cyanogaster from Abeokuta on 10 July was a considerable southern extension to its known range.

At Ngel Nyaki, the forest on the Mambilla Plateau near Gembu, noteworthy species observed in December 2003 include Naked-faced Gymnobucco calvus and Yellow-billed Barbet Trachyphonus purpuratus (both at the edge of their range), Brown-backed Honeybird Prodotiscus regulus (a juvenile seen several times on two consecutive days; apparently only the 5th record in Nigeria, at a new site), Slender-billed Greenbul Andropadus gracilirostris, Pink-footed Puffback Dryoscopus angolensis, Dark-backed Weaver Ploceus bicolor, Pale-fronted Negrofinch Nigrita luteifrons (one seen briefly) and Western Bluebill Spermophaga haematina.

A biological survey in the Oban Hills area of Cross River State in November 2003 by Mary Gartshore produced several interesting records. A pair or small party of Olive Ibis Bostrychia olivacea were heard on 3 occasions flying overhead near Old Aking Hill on 12, 15 and 17th. A pair of Nkulengu Rails Himantornis haematopus was heard duetting at Old Aking on 10th. Crowned Eagles Stephanoaetus coronatus were observed regularly at both Old Aking and Old Ndebiji. Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx olivinus was heard in Oban on 18 and 19th. PH had earlier observations of this species at Bashu in the north of Cross River State on 10 and 19 October. Red-fronted Parrots Poicephalus gulielmi were observed or heard on at least 3 occasions at Old Aking on 8th and at Old Ndebiji on 27 and 30th when a flock of 15 flew overhead. Sjostedt’s Owlet Glaucidium sjostedti was heard on 7th on the way to Old Aking Hill and 1 was seen at Aking on the way out. At Old Ndebiji, 1 was heard on 24th and another was seen on 25th. A Bare-cheeked Trogon Apaloderma aequatoriale was heard on the way into Old Aking on 7th. Another was heard at Old Ndebiji on 27th and 1 was seen on 28th. A further bird was seen by PH at Aking on 30th. Three African Pittas Pitta angolensis were heard calling at dawn at Old Ndebiji on 28th by A. P. Leventis. Grey-headed Broadbill Smithornis sharpei was heard and subsequently mist-netted at Old Aking Hill and later observed at Old Ndebiji. Prior to these records, there was only one previous record.

Several views of Pink-footed Puffback Dryoscopus angolensis were had at Old Ndebiji. PH saw a pair at Obudu Plateau on 4 May 2004. Bocage’s Akalat Sheppardia bocagei was seen and mist-netted at Old Aking on 10th and another was heard at Old Ndebiji. Prior to these records, there was only 1 other observation of this species at Obudu Plateau. Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus griseigularis was observed at Old Ndebiji on 26 and 27th. There are only 4 previous records of this species all from the east. Yellow-bellied Wattle-eyes Dyaphorophyia concreta were found to be relatively common in the Oban Hills. Chestnut-capped Flycatcher Erythrocercus mccallii was not uncommon in good forest. Previously apart from 1 record from the south-east, it had only been recorded on another occasion north of Oban. Lesser Bristlebills Bleda eximius notata, formally considered to occur only in East Africa, were seen on several occasions at both Old Aking and Old Ndebiji. Xavier’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus xavieri was heard and seen frequently in both Old Aking and Old Ndebiji. This species was only confirmed to occur in Nigeria in 1997. Three or four pairs of Yellow-footed Flycatchers Muscicapa sethsmithi were seen at both Old Aking and Old Ndebiji.


Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:12 -- abc_admin


Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:11 -- abc_admin

ABALAKA, J. L., OTTOSSON, U., TENDE, T. and LARSON K. (2010) Rock Firefinch Lagonosticta sanguinodorsalis in the Mandara Mountains, north-east Nigeria: a new subspecies? ABC Bulletin 17(2) pp 210-211.

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

DE BONT, M. (2002) Avifauna of the Hwimo area, Nigeria. ABC Bulletin 9(2) pp 101-106.

DEMEY, R., DOWSETT-LEMAIRE, F. & DOWSETT, R.J. (2003) Notable bird observations from Nigeria, including the first records of Spot-breasted Ibis Bostrychia rara and Yellow Longbill Macrosphenus flavicans. Malimbus 25(2) pp 85-94.

EZEALOR, A.U., ed. (2002) Critical sites for biodiversity conservation in Nigeria. Nigerian Conservation Foundation, Lagos, Nigeria.

GREEN, A.A., HALL, P. & LEVENTIS, A.P. (2007) Avifauna of Omo Forest Reserve, SW Nigeria. Malimbus 29(1) pp 16-30.

MANU, S., PEACH, W. & CRESSWELL, W. (2005) Notes on the natural history of the Ibadan Malimbe Malimbus ibadanensis, a threatened Nigerian endemic. Malimbus 27(1) pp 33-39.

NASON, A. (1992) Discovering Birds - an Introduction to the Birds of Nigeria. Published by Pisces Publications. Designed and produced by the Nature Conservation Bureau Limited, 36 Kingfisher Court, Hambridge Road, Newbury, Berkshire, UK. ISBN 1-8743-5700-5.

NSOR, C.A., NICODEMUS, E. & BASHIRU, U. (2014) First record of Bamenda Apalis Apalis bamendae for Nigeria. ABC Bulletin 21(1) pp 85-86.

OLMOS, F., OTTOSSON, U. & TENDE, T. (2008) A new record of the White-crowned Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga for Nigeria. Malimbus 20(2) pp 169-170.

OLMOS, F. & TURSHAK, L.G. (2009) A survey of birds in Omo Forest Reserve, south-western Nigeria. ABC Bulletin 16(2) pp 184-196.

C. OMOTORIOGUN, T.C., TEMIDAYO, T., ADEYANJU, T.A., OTTOSSON, U. and LIFJELD, J.T. (2013) First photographs of Grey Ground Thrush Zoothera princei
for Nigeria, from Omo Forest ReserveABC Bulletin 20(2) pp 208-209.

OTTOSSON, U., HJORT, C. and HALL, P. (2001) The Lake Chad Bird Migration Project: Malamfatori revisited. ABC Bulletin 8(2) pp 121-126.

OTTOSSON, U. et al (2002) New birds for Nigeria observed during the Lake Chad Bird Migration Project. ABC Bulletin 9(1) pp 52-55.

ROUX, F.R. & OTOBOTEKERE, D. (2005) New observations of Anambra Waxbill Estrilda poliopareia. ABC Bulletin 12(1) pp 24-27.

SHARLAND, R.E. (2009) Odd observations from bird ringing in Nigeria. Malimbus 31(1) pp 57.

THIBAULT, M., P. DEFOS du RAU and S. WELCH (2012) First records of Long-legged Pipit Anthus pallidiventris for Nigeria and Benin. ABC Bulletin 19(2) pp 206-208.

TOBLER, M. & NAURIN, S. (2008) On the occurrence of the Alpine Swift Apus melba in Nigeria. Malimbus 30(2) pp 167-168.  

TURK, A. (2000) Fishing owls at Agenebode, Nigeria. ABC Bulletin 7(2) pp 107-108.

VELMALA, W. & GUSTAFSSON, R. (2003) Two new raptors and other raptor observations at Lake Chad. Malimbus 25(1) pp. 52-55.

WALLACE, D.I.M. (2013) Re-identification of a booby Sula sp. at Lagos, Nigeria, in July 1970. ABC Bulletin 20(2) pp 205-207.

WILKINSON, R. (2008) Some recent records of birds from Gashaka Gumti National Park and Ngel Nyaki, Nigeria, and the Gotel Mountains, Cameroon.
Malimbus 30(2) pp 156-164.


Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:07 -- abc_admin

Nigeria Bioko Batis Batis poensis

Image Credit: 
Tasso Leventis

Nigeria Jos Plateau

Image Credit: 
Tasso Leventis

Over the last 3 decades, Nigeria has witnessed unprecedented destruction of its natural resources so that less than 3% of the original rainforest cover now remains and large areas of savanna woodland in the north have been converted into farmlands. With a growing population of over 130 million people, the pressures are unlikely to abate so that the future survival of the country’s faunal resources is likely to be dependent on the maintenance of its 8 National Parks and the various game and forest reserves throughout the country. The National Parks cover an area of only 22,592 km2, about 2.5% of the country, so there is a pressing need to upgrade some of the other reserves into Parks to ensure that all habitat types are adequately protected within the Park system. Unfortunately, most forest and game reserves throughout the country receive little or no protection so they are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Even in the National Parks, poaching levels are a matter of concern although the habitat in the Parks has been largely spared the destruction elsewhere.

The poaching pressures throughout Nigeria have led to the demise of many of the larger birds in Nigeria so that Ostrich Struthio camelus are now restricted to a very small area in the north-east and similarly, Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonina has all but been extirpated in the country. All species of bustard are now extremely scarce and the big vultures can only be seen with any reliability in the National Parks. Grey Parrots Psittacus erithacus once abundant throughout the south are now scarce as a result of the demand for the pet trade. The large forest hornbills are virtually restricted to the 2 Forest National Parks as a result of the hunting pressures. Apart from the birds, it is now almost impossible to see any large mammal outside of the National Parks so if the country is to retain a representative selection of its faunal resources, it is imperative to ensure that the Parks are totally protected.

Conservation News

14th February 2006: Illegal imports probable cause of Nigeria flu

The recent outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza in Nigeria shows that poultry movements can cause the virus to jump across countries and even continents. With poor enforcement of controls already blamed for outbreaks in China, south-east Asia and Turkey, the Nigerian outbreak further demonstrates that lapses in biosecurity are the major reason for avian influenza's continuing spread around the world.

Whilst the precise nature of the outbreak is unknown, it seems more than likely that the virus arrived through infected poultry brought into the country in defiance of Nigeria's import controls. Speaking at a press conference, Nigeria's Agriculture Minister, Adamu Bello said, "Birds come every day from China, Turkey, into Nigeria, and from Europe and also from Latin America. So Nigeria is exposed. Illegal importation of poultry by people who have farms, bringing in poultry from places and smuggling them in... could also have been a cause."

Mr Bello was also reported by Nigeria's Guardian newspaper group as saying: "We think someone may have imported or smuggled in contaminated birds."

"Globalisation has turned the chicken into the world’s number one migratory bird species," said Leon Bennun, Director of Science of BirdLife International. "Movements of chickens around the world take place 365 days a year, unlike the seasonal migrations of wild birds. It is important that strict biosecurity measures are imposed to stop further spread not only within Nigeria but also to neighbouring countries."

Source: BirdLife International News

Books & Sounds

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:04 -- 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.

You can purchase these and other books from WildSounds, one of the largest specialist UK mail-order companies, via our book and media sales page. Many birdwatchers are not only interested in birds, so we have added the most useful books for other taxa on this page.

*** Wildsounds donates 5% of each order generated via these links to the ABC Conservation Fund. Please order here, get a good price and support ABC! ***

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.

Media type: 
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.

Media type: 
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.

Media type: 
Book info: 
The Birds of Nigeria, J Helgood et al, British Ornithologists Union, Hardback.
Book description: 

BOU checklist 4. Second edition 1994. Introductory chapters cover the history of Nigerian ornithology, geography, geology, climate and vegetation. Other chapters cover migration, breeding, and co-operative / parasitic breeding, and there are appendices of ringing recoveries, references, English and scientific names. The bulk of the book comprises the Systematic list, which includes every species reliably recorded in Nigeria. 306 pages.

Media type: 


Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:02 -- abc_admin

Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis, Lekki Peninsula, west of Lagos, Nigeria

Image Credit: 
Ian Nason

Birding tours

We know of no tours organised to Nigeria.


There are no specific birding guides in Nigeria although Phil Hall and Dr S. Manu at the Ornithological Institute in Jos are able to help anybody interested in birding in Nigeria.

Trip reports

An excellent trip report "Birding in Nigeria" by Nicholas Athanas can be found in the Nigerian Field, a publication of the Nigerian Field Society, Volume 69 Part 1, April 2004. This covers a trip undertaken to Obudu Plateau, Bashu to see the Grey-necked Picathartes Picathartes oreas, Sunvit Farm near Agenebode, Okomu National Park, IITA and the Amurum Forest near Jos. 


Independent birders can fly into Lagos, Abuja and Kano from throughout Africa and Europe. However, it is advisable to make adequate advance arrangements for internal travel within the country prior to arrival as Nigeria is not currently geared up for international tourism on a large scale.


Nigeria has a bad reputation overseas for lawlessness but if sensible precautions are taken, it is possible to travel throughout the country without any incident. It is important though to seek local advice before undertaking any journey. See the following 2 websites or your own embassy website for safety and travel information: US Travel and UK FCO.

Safety issues encountered are no different from those met in many other African countries. Guidebooks, travel companies and websites provide much of the advice one needs, but some key points warrant repetition here. (1) be aware of the risk of malaria, 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 too long. Ensure you use sun-block and drink plenty of water, and wear a hat. (4) The incidence of Aids is high. (5) Ensure that you take a reasonably-equipped first-aid pack with you including supplies of hypodermic and suturing needles.


Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:01 -- abc_admin

Nigeria Okomu National Park

Image Credit: 
Tasso Leventis

Nigeria Obudu Plateau

Image Credit: 
Tasso Leventis

White-headed Lapwing Vanellus albiceps. Nigeria International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA)

Image Credit: 
Ian Nason

Okomu National Park is the largest block of lowland rainforest left in south-west Nigeria, approximately 60 km south-west of the city of Benin. It is one of the best locations in Nigeria to see all of the West African forest hornbills including good numbers of Black-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna atrata and Yellow-casqued Hornbill C.elata. Three species of spinetail can be seen from one of the tree platforms in the forest, Sabine’s Spinetail Rhaphidura sabini ,Cassin’s Spinetail Neafrapus cassini and the nationally rare Black Spinetail Telacanthura melanopygia. All four Negrofinches, White-breasted Nigrita fusconotus, Chestnut-breasted N.bicolor, Pale-fronted N. luteifrons and Grey-crowned N. canicapillus occur commonly. Also, it is only one of two sites in the country where Yellow-throated Cuckoo Chrysococcyx flavigularis has been recorded.

Obudu Plateau is situated in the south-east of the country in Cross river State close to the border with Cameroon. The plateau is a western extension of the Cameroon mountain range and contains 18 species of the Cameroon Montane EBA 2 of which Green-breasted Bush-Shrike Malacanotus gladiator and Bannerman’s Weaver Ploceus bannermani are vulnerable and White-throated Mountain Babbler Kupeornis gilberti is endangered. It is possible to see all of these species within the Becheve Reserve, a small protected area that has been established on the plateau to protect one of the largest patches of forest. In the foothills of the plateau on the edge of the Okwango section of the Cross River National Park, it is possible to see Grey-necked Picathartes Picathartes oreas easily at Bashu where a conservation project has been started to focus attention on this species.

The Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands to the north-east of Kano on the southern edge of the Sahel savanna is one of the most important wetland areas in West Africa for waterbirds, both for breeding species and for wintering and passage Palearctic migrants. Further to the east, there is another internationally important wetland site, Lake Chad, which has its westernmost shore in Nigeria. Large numbers of waterbirds can also be found here and the surrounding acacia woodlands are alive with Palearctic passerines during the dry season. At this time, the lake shore area has sizeable populations of birds of prey including significant numbers of Steppe Eagles Aquila nipalensis, Short-toed Snake Eagles Circaetus gallicus, Booted Eagles Hieraaetus pennatus and Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus. All 3 species of wintering Harrier, Pallid Circus macrourus, Montagu’s C.pygargus and Western Marsh C.aeruginosus are commonly encountered and Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni is very common. Two new records for Nigeria have also been recorded from this area, Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca and Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides. In addition to these migrants, 34 resident species of birds of prey have also been recorded.

The Amurum Woodlands, 15 km north-east of Jos, hold some of the best remaining patches of the typical Jos Plateau woodland which has been devastated elsewhere. In this area, 2 restricted range endemics, the Rock Firefinch Lagonosticta sanguinodorsalis and its brood-parasite the Plateau Indigobird Vidua maryae can be found. The recently established A. P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute which is linked to both the Universities of Jos and St. Andrews is located here and is the focus of ornithological research programmes throughout Nigeria. The first 7 Nigerian masters students graduated from the Institute in 2004.

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan protects an important area of secondary forest within the confines of its 1,000 ha concession as well as a mix of wetlands and agricultural land. Over 350 species of birds have been recorded from this small area including the endemic Ibadan Malimbe Malimbus ibadanensis which is only found in the extreme south-west of Nigeria.

Sunvit Farm, a privately owned farm about 10 km south of Agenebode in Edo State protects an important area of Guinea savanna woodland as well as stretches of riparian woodland along a tributary of the River Niger. The flooded riparian woodland is probably the most reliable site in West Africa to see the Vermiculated Fishing-owl Scotopelia bouvieri as several pairs are known to breed here. Read the ABC feature article on the Fishing-owls of this area.


Thu, 01/24/2013 - 10:58 -- abc_admin

Anambra Waxbill Estrilda poliopareia, Nigeria

Image Credit: 
Tasso Leventis

Bannerman’s Weaver Ploceus bannermani Nigeria

Image Credit: 
Tasso Leventis

Country checklist and status

You can download and print a checklist for Nigeria.

EZEALOR 2002 gives a checklist of 910 species to be found in Nigeria.

Endemic species

Anambra Waxbill

Estrilda poliopareia

Ibadan Malimbe

Malimbus ibadanensis

Rock Firefinch

Lagonosticta sanguinodorsalis

Plateau Indigobird

Vidua maryae

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

Cameroon Olive Pigeon

Columba sjostedti

Mountain Saw-wing

Psalidoprocne fuliginosa

Cameroon Montane Greenbul

Andropadus montanus

Grey-headed Greenbul

Phyllastrephus poliocephalus

Mountain Robin-Chat

Cossypha isabellae

Black-capped Woodland-Warbler

Phylloscopus herberti

Green Longtail

Urolais epichlorus

White-throated Mountain-Babbler

Kupeornis gilberti

Cameroon Sunbird

Cyanomitra oritis

Green-breasted Bush-Shrike

Malacanotus gladiator

Yellow-breasted Boubou

Laniarius atroflavus

Rachel’s Malimbe

Malimbus racheliae

Bannerman’s Weaver

Ploceus bannermani

Threatened species

Cape Gannet

Sula capensis


Marbled Teal

Marmaronetta angustirostris


Lappet-faced Vulture

Torgos tracheliotus


Lesser Kestrel

Falco naumanni


White-throated Mountain-Babbler

Kupeornis gilberti


Grey-necked Picathartes

Picathartes oreas


Green-breasted Bush-Shrike

Malacanotus gladiator


Anambra Waxbill

Estrilda poliopareia


Ibadan Malimbe

Malimbus ibadanensis


Bannerman’s Weaver

Ploceus bannermani


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

Important Bird Areas

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 10:56 -- abc_admin

Rock Firefinch Lagonosticta sanguinodorsalis Nigerian endemic species

Image Credit: 
Tasso Leventis

Nigeria Yankari National Park

Image Credit: 
Tasso Leventis

Nigeria has only 4 endemic species, 2 of which occur only on the Jos Plateau, Rock Firefinch Lagonosticta sanguinodorsalis and Plateau Indigobird Vidua maryae. Of the other 2, Ibadan Malimbe Malimbus ibadanensis is restricted to a small area in the degraded forest belt of the south-west and the Anambra Waxbill Estrilda poliopareia is only found in the southern part of the Niger Delta. The only area protecting any of these is the small Amurum Reserve which surrounds the Ornithological Institute on the Jos Plateau.

Two endemic bird areas partly occur in Nigeria, the Cameroon Highlands and the Cameroon and Gabon lowlands. About 21 species of restricted range are found in them of which 8 are species of global conservation concern. These are Forest Swallow Hirundo fuliginosa, Cameroon Montane Greenbul Andropadus montanus, Grey-headed Greenbul Phyllastrephus poliocephalus, Bangwa Forest Warbler Bradypterus bangwaensis, Grey-necked Picathartes Picathartes oreas, White-throated Mountain Babbler Kupeornis gilberti, Green-breasted Bush-Shrike Malaconotus gladiator and Bannerman’s Weaver Ploceus bannermani.

30 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) have been identified in Nigeria covering an area of 31,014 km2, equivalent to 3.4% of the land surface area of the country. 15 of these are legally protected, 2 are privately owned, 6 are partially protected and 7 have no form of protection. The list of IBAs NG001 - NG030 is as follows:

NG001 Obudu Plateau
NG002 Gashaka-Gumti National Park
NG003 Ngel-Nyaki Forest Reserve
NG004 Chad Basin National Park
NG005 Afi River Forest Reserve
NG006 Okomu National Park
NG007 Cross River National Park (Oban Division)
NG008 Omo Forest Reserve
NG009 Pandam Wildlife Park
NG010 Cross River National Park (Okwango Division)
NG011 IITA Forest Reserve, Ibadan
NG012 Lower Kaduna - Middle Niger Floodplain
NG013 Kagoro-Nindam Forest Reserves
NG014 Donga River Basin Forests
NG015 Upper Orashi Forests
NG016 Biseni Forests
NG017 Akassa Forests
NG018 Yankari National Park
NG019 Kainji Lake National Park
NG020 Amurum Woodlands (Taboru)
NG021 Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands
NG022 Kamuku National Park
NG023 Assop Falls and Hills
NG024 Sambisa Game Reserve
NG025 Falgore and Lame Burra Game Reserves
NG026 Sunvit Farm
NG027 Ebok-Kabaken
NG028 Old Oyo National Park
NG029 Mouth of the Yobe River
NG030 Itu Wetlands and Swallow Roost

Click on the map to the right to see the geographic location of these IBAs.

Further information on Nigeria’s IBAs can be found in the publication edited by Augustine U. Ezealor 2002 entitled "Critical sites for Biological Conservation in Nigeria" published by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. Details can be obtained from the Foundation at

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


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