São Tomé e Príncipe

Central Africa

São Tomé and Príncipe are the two main islands of an archipelago in the Gulf of Guinea, also comprising several surrounding islets, with a combined total land area of 964 km²



Strongly Afrotropical avifauna but with an exceptionally high level of endemism, on a par with the Galápagos Islands, and an unusually high phylogenetic diversity, with resident birds representing 28 families
Approximately 100 recorded species on São Tomé (ST), 90 on Príncipe (P), including vagrants and introduced species

Sao Tome Paradise Flycatcher (Paul van Giersbergen)
Sao Tome Grosbeak (Tasso Leventis)
Sao Tome Ibis (Pete Morris)
Sao Tome Scops Owl (Tasso Leventis)
Sao Tome Green Pigeon (Paul van Giersbergen )
Sao Tome Oriole (Paul van Giersbergen )

Endemics (E)
Sao Tome Spinetail (ST, P) (LC)
Sao Tome Olive Pigeon | Maroon Pigeon (ST) (EN)
Sao Tome Green Pigeon (ST) (EN)
Sao Tome Ibis | Dwarf Olive Ibis (ST) (CR)
Sao Tome Scops Owl (ST) (VU)
Principe Scops Owl (P) (CR)
Sao Tome Fiscal | Newton’s Fiscal (ST) (CR)
Sao Tome Oriole (ST) (VU)
Sao Tome Paradise Flycatcher (ST) (LC)
Sao Tome Prinia (ST) (LC)
Dohrn’s Warbler | Dohrn’s Thrush-Babbler (P) (LC)
Principe White-eye (P) (EN)
Sao Tome White-eye (ST) (NT)
Black-capped Speirops (ST) (LC)
Principe Speirops (P) (LC)
Principe Starling (P) (LC)
Principe Thrush (P) (CR)
Sao Tome Thrush (ST) (LC)
Principe Sunbird (P) (LC)
Newton’s Sunbird (ST) (LC)
Giant Sunbird | Sao Tome Sunbird (ST) (VU)
Principe Weaver | Principe Golden Weaver (P) (LC)
Giant Weaver (ST) (NT)
Sao Tome Weaver (ST) (LC)
Sao Tome Shorttail | Bocage’s Longbill (ST) (VU)
Principe Seedeater (P, ST) (LC)
Sao Tome Grosbeak (ST) (CR)

Sao Tome Shorttail (Tasso Leventis)
Giant Sunbird (Paul van Giersbergen)
Newton’s Sunbird (Pete Morris)
Principe Sunbird (Paul van Giersbergen)

Near-endemics (NE)
Island Bronze-naped Pigeon | Sao Tome Pigeon (ST, P)

Birds occurring in only two territories of the ABC region but not NE (1/2)
Golden-backed Bishop (ST)

Proposed new species or splits not yet accepted by IOC
Sao Tome Lemon Dove (ST E simplex)
Principe Kingfisher (P E nais)
Sao Tome Kingfisher (ST E thomensis)
Principe Drongo (P E modestus)
Sao Tome Chestnut-winged Starling (ST E fulgidus)
Sao Tome Seedeater (ST E thomensis)

Principe Thrush (Paul van Giersbergen)
Sao Tome Thrush (Lionel Sineux)
Dohrn’s Warbler (Pete Morris)
Giant Weaver (Pete Morris)
Sao Tome Olive Pigeon (Pete Morris)
Sao Tome Prinia (Pete Morris)

Other taxa of interest, including endemic subspecies (ESS)
Harlequin Quail (ST ESS histrionica)
African Palm Swift (ST, P)
Little Swift (ST, P bannermani)
African Emerald Cuckoo (ST, P insularum)
Lemon Dove (P ESS principalis)
African Green Pigeon (P ESS virescens)
Lesser Moorhen (ST)
Common Moorhen (ST, P)
Eurasian Whimbrel (ST, P)
Common Sandpiper (ST, P)
Wood Sandpiper (ST)
Common Greenshank (ST, P)
Brown Noddy (ST, P)
Black Noddy (P)
Sandwich Tern (ST)
Sooty Tern (P)
White-tailed Tropicbird (ST, P)
Band-rumped Storm Petrel (ST, P)
Brown Booby (ST, P)
Reed Cormorant | Long-tailed Cormorant (ST)
Striated Heron (ST, P)
Western Cattle Egret (ST, P)
Western Reef Heron (ST, P)
Yellow-billed Kite (ST, P)
Western Barn Owl (ST ESS thomensis)
Blue-breasted Kingfisher (P ESS dryas)
Timneh Parrot (P ESS princeps)
Splendid Starling (P splendidus)
Olive Sunbird (P obscura)
Chestnut-breasted Nigrita (P brunnescens)

Sao Tome White-eye (Pete Morris)
Principe Speirops (Pete Morris)
Black-capped Speirops (Pete Morris)

Introduced species
Helmeted Guineafowl (ST)
Red-necked Spurfowl (ST)
Rock Dove (ST, P)
Laughing Dove (ST, P)
Grey Parrot (ST)
Red-headed Lovebird (ST)
Southern Masked Weaver (ST)
Village Weaver (ST)
Black-winged Red Bishop (ST)
White-winged Widowbird (ST)
Bronze Mannikin (ST, P)
Common Waxbill (ST, P)
Blue Waxbill (ST)
Pin-tailed Whydah (ST)
Yellow-fronted Canary (ST)

Forest, moist savanna

Príncipe Endemic Bird Area (EBA)
São Tomé EBA
6 Important Bird Areas

Lagoa Amélia and Monte Carmo on São Tomé for forest species
The surrounds of Santo António town and remote southern forests on Príncipe
Ilhas Tinhosas for breeding seabirds

TIMING (Dec, Jun–Jul)
Best when it is driest (Jun–Aug, Dec–Jan)
Avoid the main rains (Feb–May, Sep–Nov)

Birds of Africa (iOS or Android)

Field guides
Birds of Western Africa by Nik Borrow & Ron Demey (2014)
As Aves de São Tomé e Príncipe: um Guia Fotográfico/The Birds of São Tomé e Príncipe: a Photoguide by A P Leventis & Fábio Olmos (2009)
Guide des Oiseaux de São Tomé et Príncipe by Patrice Christy & William V Clarke (1998)

African Bird Sounds Vol 2: West and Central Africa by Claude Chappuis

Site guides
A Birder’s Guide to the Gulf of Guinea Islands of São Tomé and Príncipe by Dave Sargeant (1992)

Further reading
The Avifauna of the Gulf of Guinea Oceanic Islands chapter by Martim Melo, Peter J Jones & Ricardo F de Lima in Biodiversity of the Gulf of Guinea Oceanic Islands edited by Luis M P Ceríaco, Ricardo F de Lima, Martim Melo & Rayna C Bell (2022)
A Revised Bird Checklist for the Oceanic Islands of the Gulf of Guinea (Príncipe, São Tomé and Annobón) by Ricardo F de Lima & Martim Melo (2021)
The Birds of São Tomé & Príncipe with Annobón: an Annotated Checklist by Peter Jones & Alan Tye (2006)
São Tomé and Príncipe by Patrice Christy in Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority Sites for Conservation edited by Lincoln D C Fishpool & Michael I Evans (2001)
The Collection of Birds from São Tomé and Príncipe at the Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical of the University of Lisbon (Portugal) by Miguel Monteiro, Luís Reino, Martim Melo, Pedro Beja, Cristiane Bastos-Silveira, Manuela Ramos, Diana Rodrigues, Isabel Queirós Neves, Susana Consciência & Rui Figueira (2016)
Les Oiseaux d’Afrique Centrale: Liste Faunistique by Patrice Christy & Jean Pierre Vande weghe (1999)
Les Oiseaux des Îles du Golfe de Guinée (São Tomé, Príncipe et Annobon)/As Aves das Ilhas do Golfo da Guiné (São Tomé, Príncipe e Ano Bom) by René de Naurois (1994)
A Study of the Birds, Small Mammals, Turtles and Medicinal Plants of São Tomé with Notes on Príncipe edited by P W Atkinson, J S Dutton, N B Peet & V A S Sequire (1994)
A Survey of the Avifauna of São Tomé and Príncipe by Peter J Jones & Alan Tye (1988)
São Tomé et Príncipe: Balade sur Deux Jeunes Iles du Plus Vieux Continent by Lucienne Wilmé (2000)
Articles in Malimbus, Bull. ABC, etc.

Gulf of Guinea Conservation Group
São Tomé and Príncipe Tours – Ashanti African Tours


There is currently no BirdLife Partner in São Tomé & Príncipe

Bird or conservation organisations active in São Tomé & Príncipe include –
Fundação Príncipe
Associação dos Biólogos Santomenses (ABS)
Associação Monte Pico
ONG MARAPA – Mar, Ambiente e Pesca Artesanal
Movimento de Defesa das Florestas de São Tomé e Príncipe
Associação de Guias Turísticos do Príncipe
Oikos – Cooperação e Desenvolvimento
Gulf of Guinea Biodiversity Center (GGBC)/Centro de Biodiversidade do Golfo da Guiné (CBGG)
Fauna & Flora International (FFI)

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