Country Accounts on other pages of this website set out recommended resources for anyone who is particularly interested in the birds of the country or territory concerned, together with bird or conservation organisations that are active there. Those accounts also list the more important or sought-after birds in each country or territory, and provide information on where and when to find them.
Below you will find information on a range of ornithological topics, resources and organisations covering the ABC region as a whole – an A to Z of African birds – including embedded links to relevant websites and groups, and how you can get involved.
This information has been compiled from a number of sources and new information will be added as it becomes available. Email us at email@example.com to submit your contributions, suggest improvements or correct any errors or omissions.
Birds of Africa (iOS or Android) is an identification guide which in time will cover all of the birds, countries and territories of the ABC region. This is a free, interactive app that has been developed as an aid to conservation. Use it to help you identify the birds you see and hear in the field, and use the BirdLasser app to share your sightings with members of the African Bird Atlas Project.
Safari Sketchbook: a Bird Painter’s African Odyssey by Martin Woodcock (2010) is a collection of the sketches that built The Birds of Africa series, with a text based on the author’s journals.
Original paintings and signed limited edition prints of African raptors by Rob Davies are available to buy here.
• The African Bird Club (ABC) is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats across the continent of Africa and related islands. Our purpose is also to further ornithology in this region.
Click here to join ABC today.
• The West African Ornithological Society (WAOS)/Société d’Ornithologie de l’Ouest Africain (SOOA) promotes scientific interest in the birds of West Africa, defined as comprising 28 countries and territories all within the ABC region, and also furthers that sub-region’s ornithology. WAOS/SOOA grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society.
• The Ornithological Society of the Middle East (OSME) collects, collates and publishes ornithological data on birds of the Middle East, including Egypt and the Socotra archipelago in the ABC region, and encourages an interest in and conservation of those birds.
• The World Pheasant Association (WPA) is committed to the conservation of Galliformes (including guineafowl, partridges, peafowl, quail, spurfowl and francolins) and the habitats they depend upon. WPA works around the world to conserve these birds both in captivity and in the wild to prevent their extinction.
• The International Turaco Society (ITS) aims to research and promote good husbandry practices, support conservation projects that have an impact on wild populations and unite turaco enthusiasts around the world.
• The African Seabird Group (ASG), the Indian Ocean Seabird Group (IOSG), the Global Penguin Society (GPS), the Royal Naval Birdwatching Society (RNBS) and The Seabird Group are all member organisations of the World Seabird Union, whose mission is to place seabird research, management and conservation into a worldwide perspective.
• The International Wader Study Group (IWSG) brings together everyone who has a passion for waders/shorebirds, the habitats they use and their conservation worldwide.
• The World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls (WWGBP) plays an important role in the promotion of raptor conservation and research on an international level. WWGBP’s membership comprises over 3,000 raptor specialists and enthusiasts in all parts of the world.
• The World Parrot Trust (WPT) was established with the aim of preserving parrots in the wild and ensuring the welfare of captive birds. WPT’s Africa Conservation Programme works to conserve threatened parrots throughout the African continent.
• The Migrant Landbird Study Group (MLSG) is a network to connect people working on migrant landbirds, whether pure research or their conservation, to facilitate both.
• The African Bird Atlas Project (ABAP) is a well-established citizen science project under whose umbrella a mass of bird distribution data is being collected by national bird atlas projects across 15 different African countries and counting. ABAP aims to engage volunteer members of the African public to collect and update information on the distribution of birds to be published in, for example, national bird atlases for different African countries and in the process increase public awareness about biodiversity and environmental conservation across the continent.
Submit your bird lists using the BirdLasser app and the data will be captured automatically by ABAP and made available in real time on country-level project websites, links to which appear in the relevant Country Accounts on this website.
Join ABAP’s Facebook group to form friendships and share wisdom.
• The Ethno-ornithology World Atlas (EWA) is a collaboration between Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, the School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography, BirdLife International and Lynx Edicions. EWA promotes the engagement of all people in bird conservation by opening a space where you can share your knowledge, language traditions, and understandings of birds. It aims to provide an open-access window into the world of human engagement with birds.
Find out how you can contribute material to EWA here.
• The Eurasian African Bird Migration Atlas covers the huge geographical area represented by two continents, encompassing the flyways between Eurasia and Africa. Movements in time and space of 300 bird species are mapped and analysed drawing on data gathered by European ringing/banding schemes over more than a century and collated by the EURING databank. The atlas also complements movement data provided by ring recoveries with detailed migration patterns of individual birds provided by tracking studies. Tracking data comes from the Movebank database.
• Landscapes of West Africa: a Window on a Changing World by the U. S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science (USGS EROS) Center (2016) is an atlas and unique dataset that uses time-series satellite image data and field-based photography to tell the story of wide-ranging land-use change across 17 countries of West Africa.
• The Birder’s Guide to Africa, written by Michael Mills with photographs by Tasso Leventis and published by Go-Away-Birding in 2017, presents the first comprehensive and detailed summary of birdwatching in the ABC region, covering all mainland territories and associated islands.
We thank Michael for granting ABC a licence to reproduce and adapt sections of the Country Accounts in his book on this website.
• Birding Africa: How to Bird the Continent Strategically is a blog by Chris Lotz of Birding Ecotours, one of a number of ABC’s corporate sponsors that operate birding tours to countries and territories of the ABC region.
• Global Birding aims to inspire birdwatchers to come together as a global community and celebrate birds by participating in birdwatching, birdwatching events, citizen science and conservation.
You can take part in Global Big Day and report your bird observations to eBird.
• Fatbirder is the premier birders’ web resource about birds, birding and birdwatching.
• Bird Families of the World by Don Roberson is an online aid to world birders who want to maximize your enjoyment of avian diversity by observing examples of as many bird families as is reasonable within the time and money available for travel, as well as a study tool for all interested readers.
• 10,000 Birds is the world’s favourite birding blog, where you can check out posts by their team of Beat Writers including these by Adam Riley of Rockjumper Birding Tours (another of ABC’s corporate sponsors) featuring Africa’s Guinea-Congo Forests biome, Africa’s endangered bird species, the Storks of Africa, Bee-eaters of Africa, Africa’s Barbets, Picathartes and Weavers.
BOOKS AND EQUIPMENT
NHBS supports those of you who work to understand, protect, and conserve the natural environment by offering the largest range of wildlife, ecology and conservation books and equipment in the world.
WILD Sounds & Books is a leading international supplier of natural history books, audio and multimedia guides and field recording equipment.
Struik Nature is the leading specialist natural history publisher in southern Africa.
A sobering viewpoint on the most urgent bird conservation priorities in Africa and its islands by Chris Lotz was published in the Bulletin of the African Bird Club in 2015.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your point of view.
Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority Sites for Conservation, edited by Lincoln D C Fishpool & Michael I Evans and published by Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BLI) in 2001, presents essential information on all known sites of global importance for the conservation of birds in countries and territories of the ABC region. There are over 1,250 of these sites, covering a combined area of around 2 million km² or roughly 7% of the region’s land area, where networks have been formed to conserve birds, other biodiversity and the ecosystem services they provide. Links to the chapters for each country or territory covered by this publication appear in Country Accounts on this website.
We thank BLI for granting ABC a licence to repost a GIS dataset of IBAs on this website for non-commercial use.
ABC funds conservation projects across the continent of Africa and related islands through our Awards and Major Grants Programmes and we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with BLI, the largest international partnership for nature conservation, to support each other’s work across the ABC region. We liaise with the BirdLife Africa Partnership, a growing network of 26 non-governmental conservation organisations with a focus on birds all of which are complimentary members of ABC.
ABC also collaborates with the International Crane Foundation (ICF), which works across sub-Saharan Africa and the wider world to conserve cranes and the ecosystems, watersheds and flyways on which they depend.
The Peregrine Fund works to conserve birds of prey worldwide and since 1970 it has worked with over 100 raptor species in more than 40 countries, including several in the ABC region.
HawkWatch International works to conserve our environment through education, long-term monitoring, and scientific research on raptors, including African eagles and vultures, as indicators of ecosystem health.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) is a science-based network of thousands of volunteer experts from almost every country in the world, among whom are ABC members, representatives and supporters. They work together in Specialist Groups, some of which address conservation issues related to particular groups of birds found in the ABC region, such as vultures, and also provide information and advice in support of programmes and projects of Wetlands International. SSC also develops species action plans and publishes occasional papers covering a broad range of subjects, such as Biodiversity in Sub-Saharan Africa and its Islands: Conservation, Management and Sustainable Use by Simon N Stuart & Richard J Adams (1990).
Programme de Petites Initiatives (PPI), run by the French Committee of IUCN, supports civil society organizations in sub-Saharan African countries involved in biodiversity preservation while improving the livelihoods of local populations.
Bird Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions by David R Williams, Robert G Pople, David A Showler, Lynn V Dicks, Matthew F Child, Erasmus K H J zu Ermgassen & William J Sutherland (2013) is a thorough guide to what is known, or not known, about the effectiveness of bird conservation actions throughout the world.
Wildlife Conservation in Africa: a Scientific Approach by S S Ajayi (2019) presents comprehensive management strategies for the consumptive and non-consumptive utilization of wildlife across sub-Saharan Africa. This book describes African economies’ current dependence on wildlife resources, and prescribes strategies for conserving the biodiversity in fragile ecosystems across the continent.
The IPBES Regional Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Africa edited by Emma Archer, Luthando E Dziba, Kulemani Jo Mulongoy, Malebajoa Anicia Maoela & Michele Walters (2018) focusses on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use among other thematic priorities.
Terrestrial Ecoregions of Africa and Madagascar: a Conservation Assessment by Neil Burgess, Jennifer D’Amico Hales, Emma Underwood, Eric Dinerstein, David Olson, Illanga Itoua, Jan Schipper, Taylor Ricketts & Kate Newman (2004) presented in a single volume the first comprehensive assessment of biodiversity patterns, threats to biodiversity, and resulting conservation priorities across the African continent and its islands. Looking at biodiversity and threats in terms of biological units rather than political units, this book offers a comprehensive examination of African biodiversity across all biomes and multiple taxonomic groups, including birds.
Key Forests for Threatened Birds in Africa by N J Collar & S N Stuart (1988) described the 75 forests which had to be conserved to protect the forest-dwelling birds identified in Threatened Birds of Africa and Related Islands by the same authors (1985), which covered the same geographical area as the ABC region. Forests of Central Africa: Nature and Man/Forêts d’Afrique Centrale: La Nature et l’Homme by Jean Pierre Vande weghe (2004) assessed the situation of some of those forests 15 years on.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global extinction risk status of bird and other species, where you can search for birds of the ABC region now threatened with global extinction.
Sites that hold the last-remaining populations of one or more species evaluated to be Endangered or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List have been mapped by the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE), which was established to designate and effectively conserve them. AZE sites can be searched by country, taxonomic group, or by a polygon that you select.
Threatened Birds of the World, published by BLI and Lynx Edicions in 2000, covers all bird species threatened with global extinction at the time, with appendices that include a country-by-country listing of threatened birds.
The BirdLife Africa Partnership has compiled State of Africa’s Birds: Indicators for Our Changing Environment (2018) and State of Africa’s Birds: Outlook for Our Changing Environment (2013), which are assessments of how the continent’s birds were faring at the time.
The BirdLife Data Zone includes country profiles presenting a wealth of scientific data on the world’s bird species, including those of countries and territories of the ABC region, their distribution and the sites critical to their conservation. These country profiles also contain relevant policy information and access to additional resources and publications.
The African-Eurasian Waterbird Census (AEWC) is a regional programme of the International Waterbird Census (IWC). Coordinated by Wetlands International, the IWC is one of the largest and longest running citizen-based global waterbird counts in the world. Data from the counts help identify and manage important wetland sites and support the adaptive management of waterbird populations.
The former African Waterbird Census (AfWC) was one of several coordinated international waterbird censuses carried out under the umbrella of the IWC. Data from three years of this project were compiled in African Waterbird Census/Les Dénombrements d’Oiseaux d’Eau en Afrique 1999, 2000 & 2001 by Tim Dodman and Cheikh Hamallah Diagana (2003).
The Waterbird Population Estimates (WPE) online database provides current and historic estimates, trends and 1% thresholds for over 800 waterbird species and 2,300 biogeographic populations worldwide.
An Atlas of Wader Populations in Africa and Western Eurasia edited by Simon Delany, Derek Scott, Tim Dodman & David Stroud (2009) is a compilation of the latest knowledge of the numbers, distribution and movements of shorebirds in the region covered by the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA).
The African Raptor DataBank (ARDB) was an innovative project designed to ascertain the conservation status of raptors and their habitats across the continent of Africa. ARDB has now been merged with the Global Raptor Impact Network (GRIN), whose database of raptor sightings is coordinated through The Peregrine Fund and managed by habitat INFO. The free GRIN app allows you to collect raptor data on your mobile device.
African Raptors is run and operated through the kind support of the Peregrine Fund.
The Owl Pages provide information about owls of Africa online.
African Honeyguides are a team of researchers working in close cooperation with rural honey-hunting communities in Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. The overall aim of their research is to understand the ecology, evolution and conservation implications of the honeyguide-human relationship.
You can help them gather data by submitting your honeyguide sightings here.
Weaver Watch is an online repository of data about the weaver bird family (Ploceidae).
You can register here to take part in monitoring weaver breeding throughout Africa.
Indigobirds (family Viduidae, genus Vidua) is a website whose aim is to serve as a resource for disseminating and collecting information on these fascinating birds.
You can contribute to this process by depositing your own sightings, recordings, and observations.
In terms of higher taxonomy, sub-Saharan Africa is arguably the richest part of the planet for birds: see Beyond Just Species: Is Africa the Most Taxonomically Diverse Bird Continent? by Chris N Lotz, John A Caddick, Monika Forner & Michael I Cherry (2013).
Peacocks & Picathartes: Reflections on Africa’s Birdlife by Rupert Watson (2020) is intended as a celebration of the diversity of African birds, especially those peculiar to the continent.
Endemic bird species of a country or territory of the ABC region are listed in the Country Accounts on other pages of this website along with their IUCN conservation status.
Following the IOC World Bird List, there are 28 endemic bird families in the ABC region including five that are monotypic, namely:
• Ostriches (Struthionidae)
• Guineafowl (Numididae)
• Turacos (Musophagidae)
• Mesites (Mesitornithidae)
• Egyptian Plover (Pluvianidae)
• Hamerkop (Scopidae)
• Shoebill (Balaenicipitidae)
• Secretarybird (Sagittariidae)
• Mousebirds (Coliidae)
• Cuckoo-roller (Leptosomidae)
• Wood Hoopoes (Phoeniculidae)
• Ground Hornbills (Bucorvidae)
• Ground Rollers (Brachypteraciidae)
• African Barbets (Lybiidae)
• Asities (Philepittidae)
• Wattle-eyes & Batises (Platysteiridae)
• Rockfowl (Picathartidae)
• Rockjumpers (Chaetopidae)
• Nicators (Nicatoridae)
• Crombecs & Allies (Macrosphenidae)
• Yellow Flycatchers (Erythrocercidae)
• Hylias (Hyliidae)
• Madagascan Warblers (Bernieridae)
• Dapple-throat & Allies (Modulatricidae)
• Sugarbirds (Promeropidae)
• Hyliotas (Hyliotidae)
• Oxpeckers (Buphagidae)
• Indigobirds & Whydahs (Viduidae)
All except one species of another bird family, Bushshrikes (Malaconotidae), are only found in Africa, as are all but two species of the Honeyguide family (Indicatoridae).
Other near-endemic bird families in the ABC region are Flufftails (Sarothruridae), African & Green Broadbills (Calyptomenidae), Vangas, Helmetshrikes & Allies (Vangidae), and Weavers & Allies (Ploceidae).
Living National Treasures is a website with names and photos of all the endemic bird and other species of every country and territory of the ABC region and wider world.
Endemic Bird Areas of the World: Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation by Alison J Stattersfield, Michael J Crosby, Adrian J Long & David C Wege, published by BLI in 1998, identified areas of high endemism which support a range of restricted-range bird species and prioritised these areas for conservation action. There are 41 such areas in the ABC region.
• The African Bird Club Community is a public Facebook group, managed and moderated by ABC, with almost 10,000 members.
Join this group for those of us with a common interest in the birds of the ABC region and their conservation.
• Birding in Africa is a private Facebook group about sharing our passion for birds all over the African continent and its related islands.
Join the group to enjoy the pictures and share yours.
• Youth Africa Birding (YAB) is an association of young, African based birders between the ages of 14 and 29, with an aim of promoting youthful birding on the African continent and in so doing bringing about a new dynamic, exciting, youthful approach to this popular hobby.
The African Bird Fair is the biggest event in African birding. It is held once a year by BirdLife South Africa, either physically in South Africa or virtually. ABC is proud to be an exhibitor at this event. We also exhibited at the first Global Birdfair, which took place in the UK in 2022.
Featherbase is the biggest and most comprehensive online feather library in the world. It enables you to identify feathers from hundreds of different species, compare similarities between them, work out gender or age-specific characteristics and look at the statistics of countless feather measurements.
These six excellent field guides between them treat most of the bird species that breed or regularly occur in the ABC region:
• Collins Bird Guide: the Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney & Dan Zetterström (2022). Originally published in Swedish and also available in French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch, this guide’s coverage extends to parts of North Africa (north of 30 degrees N), the Canary Islands and Madeira.
• Birds of Western Africa by Nik Borrow & Ron Demey (2014), which is also available in French as Oiseaux de l’Afrique de l’Ouest. “Western Africa” comprises 23 countries south of the Sahara from Senegal and southern Mauritania east to Chad and the Central African Republic, and south to Congo, including Cabo Verde and islands in the Gulf of Guinea.
• Birds of the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Socotra by Nigel Redman, Terry Stevenson & John Fanshawe (2011). A revised and expanded edition of this guide was published in 2016.
• Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi by Terry Stevenson & John Fanshawe (2020).
• Sasol Birds of Southern Africa by Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboton, Niall Perrins, Dominic Rollinson & Peter Ryan (2020), which is also available in Afrikaans as Sasol Voëls van Suider-Afrika. “Southern Africa” encompasses Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique south of the Zambezi River.
• Birds of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands by Frank Hawkins, Roger Safford & Adrian Skerrett (2015). This guide covers Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros, Mayotte, and the Mascarene Islands, as well as Outer Islands of the Mozambique Channel.
Les Oiseaux de l’Est Africain by Jean Grasseau (2004) is a field guide in French to the birds of East Africa (englobant Soudan, Érythrée, Ethiopie, Djibouti, Somalie, Ouganda, Kenya, Tanzanie, Mafia, Pemba et Zanzibar, Rwanda et Burundi, Zambie, Malawi, Mozambique et Zimbabwe), illustrating and describing 1,187 species.
Two field guides with a more extensive coverage are:
• Birds of Africa South of the Sahara by Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan (2010). This guide covers the African continent south of 20 degrees N. It excludes Cabo Verde and the Malagasy region.
• Birds in Africa: an Introduction and Survey to the Birdlife of Africa by Rainer Christian Ertel (2011) translated from the German edition, supplemented and revised with the assistance of Nik Borrow. This guide covers more than 1,300 bird species that breed or migrate in Africa.
Sasol Birds of Prey of Africa and its Islands by Alan & Meg Kemp (2006) is a guide to the raptors and owls of the ABC region, with photographic, illustrative and textual references to all species.
Pocket guides covering parts of the ABC region include:
• Birds of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East: a Photographic Guide by Frédéric Jiguet & Aurélien Audevard (2017) – a pocket-sized photographic field guide to every bird species treated by Collins Bird Guide, which is also available in French, Italian, Dutch and Danish.
• Birds of Western and Central Africa by Ber van Perlo (2003) – a pocket guide to over 1,500 bird species occurring in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, the DRC, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, São Tomé & Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
• Echassiers, Canards, Limicoles et Laridés de l’Ouest Africain by Olivier Girard (2003) – a pocket identification guide written in French for West African field workers conducting waterbird counts.
• Guide d’Identification des Oiseaux d’Eau en Afrique du Nord by H Azafzaf, P Defos du Rau, C Feltrup-Azafzaf, J-Y Mondain Monval & O Girard (2013) – a pocket identification guide in French to migratory waterbirds in northern Africa, which is also available in Arabic.
Africa East Atlantic Flyway Guide/Guide de la Voie de Migration Est-Atlantique Africaine/Guia de Aves da Rota Migratória do Atlântico Leste em África by Clive R Barlow & Tim Dodman (2015) is a trilingual photographic field guide to waterbirds and seabirds of Africa’s western coastline, from Morocco to South Africa.
Buy this book here today and 100% of the price will be donated to ABC’s Conservation Fund.
Habitats of the World: a Field Guide for Birders, Naturalists, and Ecologists by Iain Campbell, Ken Behrens, Charley Hesse & Phil Chaon (2021) is the first field guide to describe all 189 of the world’s major land habitats, including those of the Afrotropics and Africa north of the Sahara.
BirdForum is the internet’s largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.
You need to register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
Birders of Africa: History of a Network by Nancy J Jacobs (2016) reconstructs the collaborations between well-known Western ornithologists and the largely forgotten African guides, hunters and taxidermists who worked with them. The author talked about her book to Shoba Narayan on the Bird Podcast in 2021.
A special number of the Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club (Vol 100 No 1), published in 1980, contained a worldwide review of the progress of ornithology over the preceding half century, including:
• 50 Years of Ornithology in North-west Africa 1930-1980 by J D R Vernon
• 50 Years of Ornithology in West Africa by Gérard J Morel
• Ornithological Progress in Eastern Africa During the Past 50 Years by P L Britton
• Ornithology in Southern Africa, 1930-1980 by R K Brooke
• Fifty Years of Ornithology in the Malagasy Faunal Region by C W Benson
IDENTIFICATION GUIDES AND MONOGRAPHS
We recommend the following titles, which are all part of the Helm Identification Guides series:
• Shrikes of the World by Norbert Lefranc (2022)
• African Raptors by William S Clark & Rob Davies (2018)
• Robins and Chats by Peter Clement & Chris Rose (2015)
• Crows and Jays: a Guide to the Crows, Jays and Magpies of the World by Steve Madge & Hilary Burn (2013)
• Buntings and Sparrows: a Guide to the Buntings and North American Sparrows by Clive Byers, Urban Olsson & Jon Curson (2013)
• Cuckoos of the World by Johannes Erritzøe, Clive F Mann, Frederik P Brammer & Richard A Fuller (2012)
• Finches and Sparrows by Peter Clement, Alan Harris & John Davies (2011)
• Reed and Bush Warblers by Peter Kennerley & David Pearson (2010)
• Owls of the World by Claus König, Friedhelm Weick & Jan-Hendrik Becking (2008)
• Parrots: a Guide to the Parrots of the World by Tony Juniper & Mike Parr (2003)
• Pheasants, Partridges & Grouse: Including Buttonquails, Sandgrouse and Allies by Steve Madge & Phil McGowan (2002)
• Stonechats: a Guide to the Genus Saxicola by Ewan Urquhart (2002)
• Sylvia Warblers: Identification, Taxonomy and Phylogeny of the Genus Sylvia by Hadoram Shirihai, Gabriel Gargallo & Andreas J Helbig (2001)
• Sunbirds: a Guide to the Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers, Spiderhunters and Sugarbirds of the World by Robert A Cheke, Clive F Mann & Richard Allen (2001)
• Pigeons and Doves: a Guide to the Pigeons and Doves of the World by David Gibbs, Eustace Barnes & John Cox (2001)
• Thrushes by Peter Clement & Ren Hathway (2000)
• Shrikes and Bush-Shrikes: Including Wood-Shrikes, Helmet-Shrikes, Flycatcher-Shrikes, Philentomas, Batises and Wattle-Eyes by Tony Harris & Kim Franklin (2000)
• Starlings and Mynas by Chris Feare & Adrian Craig (1998)
• Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and Rollers by C Hilary Fry, Kathie Fry & Alan Harris (1992)
• Wildfowl: an Identification Guide to the Ducks, Geese and Swans of the World by Steve Madge & Hilary Burn (1992)
• Shorebirds: an Identification Guide to the Waders of the World by Peter Hayman, John Marchant & Tony Prater (1991)
• A Handbook to the Swallows and Martins of the World by Angela Turner & Chris Rose (1989)
Also recommended are:
• Vultures of the World: Essential Ecology and Conservation by Keith L Bildstein (2022)
• Gamebirds of Africa: Guineafowls, Francolins, Spurfowls, Quails, Sandgrouse & Snipes by Rob Little (2021)
• Estrildid Finches of the World: a Photographic, Descriptive and Factual Guide to all 34 Genera of Estrildidae by G J Huisman (2021)
• Seabirds: the New Identification Guide by Peter Harrison, Martin Perrow & Hans Larsson (2021)
• The Largest Avian Radiation: the Evolution of Perching Birds, or the Order Passeriformes edited by Jon Fjeldså, Les Christidis & Per G P Ericson (2020)
• Oceanic Birds of the World: a Photo Guide by Steve N G Howell & Kirk Zufelt (2019)
• Gulls of the World: a Photographic Guide by Klaus Malling Olsen (2018)
• Woodpeckers of the World: the Complete Guide by Gerard Gorman (2014)
• Owls of the World: a Photographic Guide by Heimo Mikkola (2013)
• Parrots of Africa, Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands: Biology, Ecology and Conservation by Mike Perrin (2013)
• The Reed Warblers: Diversity in a Uniform Bird Family by Bernd Leisler & Karl Schulze-Hagen (2011)
• Trogons: a Natural History of the Trogonidae by Joseph M Forshaw (2009)
• Sur les Traces du Roi des Marais by Geneviève Renson (2008), which is about the Shoebill
• Pelicans, Cormorants and Their Relatives: the Pelecaniformes by J Bryan Nelson (2006)
• Ducks, Geese and Swans edited by Janet Kear (2005)
• Herons by James A Kushlan & James A Hancock (2005)
• The Cuckoos by Robert B Payne (2005)
• Grebes by Jon Fjeldså (2004)
• Albatrosses and Petrels across the World by Michael Brooke (2004)
• Turacos: a Natural History of the Musophagidae by Joseph M Forshaw (2002)
• Ratites and Tinamous by S J J F Davies (2002)
• Toucans, Barbets and Honeyguides by Lester Short & Jennifer Horne (2001)
• Nightjars and Their Allies by D T Holyoak (2001)
• Swifts: a Guide to the Swifts and Treeswifts of the World by Phil Chantler & Gerald Driessens (2000)
• Rails: a Guide to the Rails, Crakes, Gallinules and Coots of the World by Barry Taylor & Ber van Perlo (2000)
• Munias and Mannikins by Robin Restall (2000)
• Nightjars: a Guide to the Nightjars and Related Nightbirds by Nigel Cleere & Dave Nurney (1998), which comes with a sound guide by Richard Ranft & Nigel Cleere
• Robins of Africa by Terry Oatley & Graeme Arnott (1998)
• Pittas of the World: a Monograph on the Pitta Family by Johannes Erritzøe & Helga Boullet Erritzøe (1998)
• Pittas, Broadbills and Asities by Frank Lambert & Martin Woodcock (1996)
• Woodpeckers: a Guide to the Woodpeckers, Piculets and Wrynecks of the World by Hans Winkler, David Christie & Dave Nurney (1995)
• The Hornbills by Alan C Kemp (1995)
• Storks, Ibises and Spoonbills of the World by James A Hancock, James A Kushlan & M Philip Kahl (1992)
• Kingfishers of Sub-Saharan Africa by Phillip A Clancey (1992)
• The Vultures of Africa by Peter Mundy, Duncan Butchart, John Ledger & Steven Piper (1992)
• Bustards, Hemipodes, and Sandgrouse: Birds of Dry Places by Paul A Johnsgard (1991)
• Africa’s Feathered Locust edited by P J Mundy & M J F Jarvis (1989)
INDIGENOUS AND LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
There is a wealth of indigenous and local knowledge on the African continent and in the wider ABC region, accumulated over thousands of years and continuously evolving, which underpins the ways birds and nature benefit people. Such knowledge is critical to the management and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services, but it is declining or eroding in some communities.
The Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC), a network of 135 Indigenous peoples’ organisations in 21 African countries, works with IUCN to promote the rights and participation of Indigenous peoples in landscape-scale conservation and the sustainable use of nature.
Nathan N Gichuki has written about the contribution of indigenous knowledge to bird conservation in Africa, which deserves more attention. The ecological knowledge held by Indigenous peoples can enhance our understanding of status and trends of species and ecosystems, particularly those that contribute to human livelihoods and well-being.
For a broader perspective, see Indigenous and Local Knowledge of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Africa edited by Marie Roué, Nicolas Césard, Y C Adou Yao & Alfred Oteng-Yeboah (2015).
The Bulletin of the African Bird Club is one of the foremost publications on African ornithology and conservation, alongside:
• Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, the leading ornithological journal in Africa. Co-published quarterly by NISC (Pty) Ltd and Taylor & Francis Online in association with BirdLife South Africa, Ostrich features peer-reviewed, original scientific papers and short communications on all aspects of ornithology conducted in Africa and its associated islands and marine habitats. It is a subscription journal in which some of the articles are open access.
• Malimbus: Journal of West African Ornithology/Revue d’Ornithologie de l’Ouest Africain. The biannual and bilingual journal of the WAOS/SOOA, Malimbus publishes original research articles, reviews and news about West African ornithology.
The full text of all issues of Malimbus five or more years old is freely available.
• Scopus: Journal of East African Ornithology. Published open access twice a year by the Bird Committee of the East Africa Natural History Society, Scopus welcomes original contributions — which have not been published elsewhere — on all aspects of the ornithology of eastern Africa, encompassing the area from Sudan, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa countries south to Mozambique, and including the Malagasy region.
All back issues of Scopus are freely available. An Index of Volumes 1-25 (1977-2005) has been compiled by Robert J Dowsett, and a Bibliography of Volumes 1-15 (1977-1993) has been compiled by Donald A Turner.
• Afrotropical Bird Biology, a free, open-access, online journal hosted by the University of Cape Town Libraries. It publishes articles that describe aspects of the natural and cultural history of birds in the Afrotropical region, including its offshore islands.
• Sandgrouse, published by OSME and containing papers and short notes on the ornithology of the OSME region, which includes Egypt and the Socotra archipelago. It also provides bird and conservation news and a comprehensive round-up of bird sightings from the OSME region.
All back issues of Sandgrouse apart from the 3 years preceding the current issue are downloadable from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.
• Wildfowl, an international scientiﬁc journal published annually by Wildfowl Press and previously published by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (from 1948–2020). It disseminates original material on the ecology, biology and conservation of wildfowl (Anseriformes) and ecologically associated birds (such as waders, rails and ﬂamingos), and on their wetland habitats.
• Wader Study, formerly the Wader Study Group Bulletin, the international journal of shorebird science published by the IWSG. It publishes peer-reviewed papers on the results of wader/shorebird research from all parts of the world and is a forum for debate and discussion. The archive can be found here.
• Marine Ornithology: Journal of Seabird Science and Conservation, originally named Cormorant, conceived and created by the African Seabird Group, IOSG Newsletter published by the Indian Ocean Seabird Group, Sea Swallow published by the Royal Naval Birdwatching Society, and Seabird, the journal of The Seabird Group, whose geographical focus is the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas.
• Waterbirds: The International Journal of Waterbird Biology, published by The Waterbird Society.
• Bird Conservation International, the official journal of BirdLife International. A quarterly, peer-reviewed journal, it seeks to promote worldwide research and action for the conservation of birds and the habitats upon which they depend. It publishes original papers and reviews, including targeted articles and recommendations by leading experts.
• Koedoe: African Protected Area Conservation and Science, the premier open access journal in research on the conservation of natural and cultural assets in protected areas, particularly in Africa.
The AFRICORN listserv monitors those and other scientific journals as well as disseminating knowledge on the biology of African birds and threats to their existence. Subscribers on the mailing list receive up-to-date information on African bird literature and may participate in discussions on African ornithology.
To join the listserv, email AFRICORNmgmt@gmail.com with “subscribe” in the subject line.
Orniverse supports local bird guides around the world by connecting visitors with them, as well as collecting and sharing information about how and when to visit birding sites in the ABC region and wider world. You can contribute by listing yourself as a local guide for individual birding sites, describing a new birding site or editing an existing description.
BirdingPal is another site designed to put visiting birders in contact with local guides.
If you are organising your own trip to a country or territory of the ABC region, make sure that you use local bird guides to show you around and please donate your old or unwanted binoculars and scopes which are in good working order to them.
The Birds of CITES and How to Identify Them by Johannes Erritzøe (1993) is a large-format manual which illustrates and identifies all bird species listed on Appendices I, II and III of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Each entry gives the scientific name and local names in a variety of languages, where the bird is found, distinguishing characteristics, sex/age differences, and under which Appendix it is listed.
Conserving Biodiversity in Africa: Guidelines for Applying the Site Support Group Approach edited by Solomon Mwangi Ngari (2007) provides a step-by-step guide to establishing and managing organised, independent groups of volunteers who work with their communities, with the national BirdLife Partner and with other organisations to promote conservation and sustainable development at Important Bird Areas and other key biodiversity sites.
Bird Ecology and Conservation: a Handbook of Techniques edited by William J Sutherland, Ian Newton & Rhys E Green (2004) outlines the main methods and techniques available to ornithologists.
Bird Census Techniques by Colin J Bibby, Neil D Burgess, David A Hill & Simon H Mustoe (2000) provides a concise guide to the various census techniques and to the opportunities and pitfalls which each entails.
Bird Surveys edited by Colin Bibby, Martin Jones and Stuart Marsden (1998) details all the techniques that might be needed to obtain and analyse good quantitative bird data from the field.
Education Projects edited by Jen Hurst (1998) takes field workers through a rigorous process that entails asking the right questions to ensure an education project is appropriate and successful in a given situation.
Statistics for Ornithologists by Jim Fowler & Louis Cohen (1995) aims to introduce ornithologists to the fundamentals of statistics without swamping them with the underlying theory. Most of the techniques are illustrated with examples, and all can be applied without the use of a computer.
Bird Trapping and Bird Banding/Vogelfang und Vogelberingung by Hans Bub (1996) is the most complete and detailed single work available on capturing birds without harming them.
Measuring Birds/Vögel Vermessen by Siegfried Eck, Jürgen Fiebig, Wolfgang Fiedler, Iris Heynen, Bernd Nicolai, Till Töpfer, Renate van den Elzen, Raffael Winkler & Friederike Woog/Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft (2011) offers concise instructions for anyone needing to take or compare biometrics of birds, either from specimens or live birds, or indeed to compare the two.
The Handbook of Bird Photography by Markus Varesvuo, Jari Peltomäki & Bence Máté (2013) is also available in French as Photographier les Oiseaux en Numérique: les Techniques, la Pratique et les Sujets.
All but eight of the countries and territories of the ABC region are parties to the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), often referred to as the Bonn Convention, which provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. Parties to CMS work together to conserve migratory species and their habitats by providing strict protection for the most endangered migratory species, by concluding regional multilateral agreements for the conservation and management of specific species or categories of species, and by undertaking co-operative research and conservation activities. Agreements made under the auspices of CMS and underpinning its work include the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), a Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MoU) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Landbirds Action Plan (AEMLAP).
CMS and AEWA are founding partners of World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD), an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. WMBD activities take place twice a year in many countries and territories of the ABC region.
The AEWA African Initiative is a package of support, which aims to promote the implementation of AEWA in Africa and thus help conserve migratory waterbird populations and habitats under threat.
Oiseaux Migrateurs du Paléarctique Occidental (OMPO)/Institut Européen pour la Gestion des Oiseaux Sauvages et de Leurs Habitats is an international non-governmental scientific organization whose objectives are to study and contribute to the knowledge of migratory Palearctic birds throughout their range in Eurasia-Africa while ensuring opportunities for their management and sustainable use.
The BirdLife Africa Secretariat coordinates a Migratory Birds and Flyways Programme and an East Atlantic Flyway Initiative. Migrations by birds between Africa and both Asia and Europe are numerous and include the Mediterranean/Black Sea Flyway, the East Atlantic Flyway, and the East Asia/East Africa Flyway. In addition to those long-distance Afro-Palaearctic migrants, there are bird species that migrate within the ABC region and which are known as intra-African migrants.
Patterns of migration are continuously evolving and adapting in response to climate change. See, for example, The Effects of Climate Change on Migratory Waterbirds within the African-Eurasian Flyway by Ilya M D Maclean, Mark M Rehfisch, Simon Delany & Robert A Robinson (2007) and findings from the BTO’s Cuckoo Tracking Project.
Migrant Birds in Africa (2009-2013) is a blog whose aim was to understand how Afro-Palearctic migrants use and move around the different vegetation zones found in West Africa, ranging from the semi-desert Sahelian region in Burkina Faso to the lush tropical rainforest in southern Ghana, and whether habitat change may impact the birds on their wintering grounds.
Living on the Edge: Wetlands and Birds in a Changing Sahel by Leo Zwarts, Rob G Bijlsma, Jan van der Kamp & Eddy Wymenga (2009), which is available in French as Les Ailes du Sahel: Zones Humides et Oiseaux Migrateurs dans un Environnement en Mutation, examines the function of the Sahel region as an important wintering area for long-distance migrant birds and describes the challenges these birds have to cope with.
La Migration des Cigognes Noires: du Chêne au Baobab by Gérard Jadoul (2001) charts the migrations of Black Storks between western Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.
Songs of 10 threatened bird species feature on A Guide to the Birdsong of Western Africa, an album of original tracks by 10 artists from the region inspired by these birds’ songs. ABC helped The Birdsong Project, who curated the album, select the 10 species and identify local organisations working to protect them, to which all of the profits will be donated.
The Africa Round-up section in the Bulletin of the African Bird Club is a compilation of recent articles on African birds from various sources.
Read the BirdLife Africa Newsletter (formerly BirdLife Africa/Afrique), which is also available in French, and click here for all the latest news from the BirdLife Africa Partnership.
Mongabay is a U.S.-based non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform that produces original reporting in English and French, among other languages, by leveraging over 800 correspondents in some 70 countries, including many African countries.
It is important to record and preserve local names of birds in different African languages as part of our multiple understandings of birds that are so much a part of our lives. There is an urgent need to do this lest these names be lost as time goes by.
Indigenous Names for South African Birds (INSAB) is a working group aiming to devise species-specific names for all the birds of South Africa in all nine of that country’s African languages.
ABC’s Birds of Africa app (iOS or Android) can incorporate African languages – as well as, for example, French and Portuguese – and now includes Hausa and Afrikaans.
If you have a project proposal to collect local names of birds in one or more African languages, you can apply for an award from ABC to fund this.
The African Bird Names Committee (ABNC) is a collaborative effort aiming to draw up a list of English names in majority use for birds occurring in the ABC region, and to promote these names for use by all, including world birds lists and bird book and journal paper authors and publishers.
French nomenclature of birds has been the subject of extensive work by the Commission Internationale des Noms Français des Oiseaux (CINFO) compiled in their work entitled Noms Français des Oiseaux du Monde published by Éditions MultiMondes in 1993.
Os Nomes Portugueses das Aves de Todo o Mundo: Projeto de Nomenclatura is an ongoing project by Paulo Paixão to list the Portuguese names of birds from all over the world, including Açores, Angola, Cabo Verde, Guiné-Bissau, Madeira, Moçambique, São Tomé e Príncipe in the ABC region.
Type Specimens of Birds in the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren by Michel Louette, Danny Meirte, Annelies Louage & Alain Reyge (2012) describes 987 type specimens pertaining to 226 nominal bird taxa found in African countries, of which at least 125 are still in use as valid names of species or subspecies.
ABC is a sponsor of the Pan-African Ornithological Congress (PAOC), which is usually held once every four years and brings together hundreds of professional and dedicated amateur ornithologists. PAOC aims to further the study of African birds, promote their preservation as an integral part of African heritage, foster their appreciation and discussion of them in relation to people, and disseminate information on them through appropriate international meetings and publications.
An overview by Michel Louette & Emil K Urban of the 11 PAOCs held through to 2004 was published in Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, where Colin M Beale subsequently reviewed trends in the ornithological literature since 1990 within the context of the 14th PAOC.
ABC curates the African Bird Image Database (AFBID), which was created to bring together high-quality photographs of as many bird species from the ABC region as possible.
The Virtual Museum (VM) provides the platform for citizen scientists to contribute to Africa-wide biodiversity mapping projects, such as BirdPix (which curates interesting and important photos of birds), BOP (birds with odd plumages) and PHOWN (photos of weaver nests).
You are encouraged to submit digital photographs for the various sections of the VM. Together with the photograph will go the same information as on the label of a specimen in a museum collection. Species identifications are done by a panel of experts, and the databases in the VM are used for multiple purposes. The most common use is to collate all the places where a species has been photographed, and to generate distribution maps for the species. These are available online and serve as conservation and education tools.
How and Where to Photograph Birds in Southern Africa by Isak Pretorius (2014) is the most comprehensive guide on bird photography available.
The Birds of Africa series is the standard work on African ornithology. It provides the most authoritative and comprehensive reference work on the avifauna of the ABC region in eight volumes:
• The Birds of Africa Vol I (Ostriches to Falcons) edited by Leslie H Brown, Emil K Urban & Kenneth Newman (1982)
• The Birds of Africa Vol II (Gamebirds to Pigeons) edited by Emil K Urban, C Hilary Fry & Stuart Keith (1986)
• The Birds of Africa Vol III (Parrots to Woodpeckers) edited by C Hilary Fry, Stuart Keith & Emil K Urban (1988)
• The Birds of Africa Vol IV (Broadbills to Chats) edited by Stuart Keith, Emil K Urban & C Hilary Fry (1992)
• The Birds of Africa Vol V (Thrushes to Puffback Flycatchers) edited by Emil K Urban, C Hilary Fry & Stuart Keith (1997)
• The Birds of Africa Vol VI (Picathartes to Oxpeckers) edited by C Hilary Fry, Stuart Keith & Emil K Urban (2000)
• The Birds of Africa Vol VII (Sparrows to Buntings) edited by C Hilary Fry & Stuart Keith (2004)
• The Birds of Africa Vol VIII: The Malagasy Region edited by Roger Safford & Frank Hawkins (2013)
The first seven volumes in the series were illustrated by Martin Woodcock, who was a founding member and the first Chairman of ABC.
For all the latest information online about every bird species, subspecies and family, Birds of the World by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is available by subscription to anyone in the world.
A Bibliography of Afrotropical Birds, 1971-1990 compiled by R J Dowsett, C H Fry & F Dowsett-Lemaire (1997) cites 8,300 plus titles sorted by bird family or species, country or region, or research topic.
See also Working Bibliography of Cuckoos and Turacos of the World by Johannes Erritzøe & Oscar van Rootselaar (2000) and Bibliography of the African Quelea by H D Oschadleus (2001).
Ornithology for Africa: a Text for Users on the African Continent by Gordon Lindsay Maclean (1990) is a comprehensive introduction to ornithology in Africa, and in particular, the southern half of the continent. It was the first book on ornithology to focus on the southern hemisphere using African examples. Chapters cover the classification and origins of birds, flight, food and feeding, zoogeography, ecology, migration, behaviour, and breeding biology.
The African Bird Ringing Scheme (AFRING) is an ongoing initiative aiming to improve the coordination and quality of bird ringing/banding programmes within Africa. AFRING focuses on capacity building, establishing regional cooperation and encouraging use of scientific data for bird and wetland conservation.
If you find a wild bird, alive or dead, with a ring/band on it, please report this to AFRING.
Where to watch BIRDS and other wildlife in the world is a website authored by Nigel Wheatley, who wrote the book Where to watch birds in Africa, published in 1995. Birding destinations that the author believes are the best in Africa are listed alphabetically and linked on the website, with more or less detailed summaries including the best birds there and the best sites and times for them.
Go to birdingplaces.eu to find and share birding spots not just in Europe but also in Algeria, the Azores, Cabo Verde, the Canary Islands, Egypt, Libya, Madeira, Morocco, Tunisia, Western Sahara, and further afield.
xeno-canto is a website for sharing recordings of sounds of wild birds from all across the world. Its collection has over 50,000 bird sound recordings of more than 2,000 bird species from African countries.
The Sound Approach aim to popularise birdsong and raise standards in the use of sounds in bird identification. Their collection has in excess of 75,000 bird sound recordings of more than 1,000 species, with a particular focus on the Western Palaearctic region (which includes Africa north of the Sahara, the Canary Islands and Madeira in the ABC region).
The IOC World Bird List (v12.2) edited by Frank Gill, David Donsker & Pamela Rasmussen (2022), which ABC follows, is an open access resource of the international community of ornithologists. It complements three other primary world bird lists that differ slightly in their primary goals and taxonomic philosophy, i.e. The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World, The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, and the Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) and BirdLife International Digital Checklist of the Birds of the World.
Unlike those checklists, the Taxonomy in Flux (TiF) Checklist is based on genetic studies to the highest degree possible and it exists to speculate, to map out potential changes in the taxonomy.
TRAFFIC co-ordinates wildlife trade action across central, east and southern Africa in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
Most of the continent of Africa and related islands is generally safe to visit but just like in other parts of the world, some places are unsafe or off limits and the security situation can change for the better or worse. Before planning a visit to any country or territory of the ABC region, get advice including the latest information on safety and security from your government’s travel advisory service. Travel advice by destination in English is available from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office or U.S. Department of State, and in French from France Diplomatie.
The Africa Infrastructure Knowledge Program has country profiles with available data on national infrastructures, and Climate Data is a portal to climate data for cities.
We recommend Bradt Guides and Responsible Travel for their travel guides to destinations in the ABC region.
CloudBirders is widely acknowledged to be the best portal for birding trip reports generally.
Surfbirds also has trip reports for most countries and territories of the ABC region.
Visit our video library to watch videos on a range of topics related to African ornithology and conservation.
Watch the latest videos from BirdLife International Africa here.
The Pan-African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZA) represents the interests of bona fide zoos, many of which have aviaries, and aquaria on the African continent. Most of these are in South Africa.