Sierra Leone

West Africa

71,740 km²



Strongly Afrotropical avifauna
Approximately 640 recorded species

Rufous Fishing Owl (Paul van Giersbergen)
Fiery-breasted Bushshrike (Dubi Shapiro)
Emerald Starling (Paul van Giersbergen)

Birds best found in Sierra Leone but occurring more widely (BT), including Upper Guinea endemics (UGE)
White-breasted Guineafowl (UGE)
Rufous Fishing Owl (UGE)
Timneh Parrot
Turati’s Boubou
Emerald Starling
Gola Malimbe | Ballman’s Malimbe (UGE)
Crimson Seedcracker
Jambandu Indigobird
Togo Paradise Whydah

Jambandu Indigobird (John Caddick)
Crimson Seedcracker (Nik Borrow)
Red-billed Helmetshrike (Tasso Leventis)

Birds best found in two territories of the ABC region but occurring in more (B2), including UGE
Little Green Woodpecker
Melancholy Woodpecker
Red-cheeked Wattle-eye
Red-billed Helmetshrike
White-necked Rockfowl | Yellow-headed Picathartes (UGE)
Green-tailed Bristlebill (UGE)
Western Bearded Greenbul
Yellow-bearded Greenbul (UGE)
Fanti Saw-wing
Pied-winged Swallow
Kemp’s Longbill
Black-headed Rufous Warbler | Black-capped Rufous Warbler (UGE)
Copper-tailed Starling (UGE)
Yellow-winged Pytilia | Red-faced Pytilia
Cameroon Indigobird

Proposed new species or splits not yet accepted by IOC
Black-shouldered Nightjar (B2)
Western Piping Hornbill
Western Little Hornbill
Western Long-tailed Hornbill
Western Yellow-spotted Barbet
Western Yellow-billed Barbet
West African Pitta
Rufous-bellied Wattle-eye (BT)
Fanti Drongo
Glossy-backed Drongo
Western Square-tailed Drongo
Highland Lark (henrici)
Yellow-bellied Crombec
Grey-hooded Capuchin Babbler (BT)
Black-faced Quailfinch
Bannerman’s Pipit

Other taxa of interest, including endemic subspecies (ESS) and more UGE
Hartlaub’s Duck
African Pygmy Goose
Western Crested Guineafowl
Latham’s Francolin | Forest Francolin
Ahanta Spurfowl
Double-spurred Spurfowl
Brown Nightjar
Plain Nightjar
Long-tailed Nightjar
Standard-winged Nightjar
Black Spinetail
Sabine’s Spinetail
Cassin’s Spinetail
African Black Swift (glanvillei)
Bates’s Swift
Great Blue Turaco
Western Plantain-eater
Yellow-billed Turaco
Guinea Turaco | Green Turaco
Black-throated Coucal
Blue Malkoha
Yellow-throated Cuckoo
Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo
Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo
Afep Pigeon
Western Bronze-naped Pigeon | Bronze-naped Pigeon
Blue-headed Wood Dove
African Finfoot
White-spotted Flufftail
Grey-throated Rail
Nkulengu Rail
Forbes’s Plover
Egyptian Plover
Greater Painted-snipe
Rock Pratincole
African Skimmer
West African Crested Tern
Olive Ibis
White-crested Tiger Heron | White-crested Bittern
White-backed Night Heron
Western Reef Heron
Western Banded Snake Eagle | Banded Snake Eagle
Congo Serpent Eagle
Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle
Long-tailed Hawk
Red-thighed Sparrowhawk
Red-chested Owlet
Fraser’s Eagle-Owl
Akun Eagle-Owl
Shelley’s Eagle-Owl
West African Pied Hornbill
Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill
Brown-cheeked Hornbill (UGE)
Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill
Black-casqued Hornbill
Yellow-casqued Hornbill
Blue-throated Roller
Chocolate-backed Kingfisher
African Dwarf Kingfisher
White-bellied Kingfisher
Shining-blue Kingfisher
Blue-moustached Bee-eater
Black Bee-eater
Bristle-nosed Barbet
Naked-faced Barbet
Speckled Tinkerbird
Red-rumped Tinkerbird
Yellow-throated Tinkerbird
Hairy-breasted Barbet
Vieillot’s Barbet
Cassin’s Honeybird
Yellow-footed Honeyguide
Willcocks’s Honeyguide
Least Honeyguide
Spotted Honeyguide
Lyre-tailed Honeyguide
Buff-spotted Woodpecker
Brown-eared Woodpecker
Fire-bellied Woodpecker
Black-collared Lovebird
West African Batis
West African Wattle-eye
Brown-throated Wattle-eye
Fiery-breasted Bushshrike
Lagden’s Bushshrike
Many-colored Bushshrike
Marsh Tchagra
Sabine’s Puffback
Lowland Sooty Boubou
Yellow-crowned Gonolek (ESS helenae)
African Shrike-flycatcher
Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher
Purple-throated Cuckooshrike
Western Wattled Cuckooshrike | Ghana Cuckooshrike (UGE)
Blue Cuckooshrike
Western Oriole | Western Black-headed Oriole
Black-winged Oriole
Shining Drongo
Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher
Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher | Black-headed Paradise Flycatcher
African Blue Flycatcher
Dusky Crested Flycatcher
Dusky Tit
Western Nicator
Golden Greenbul
Red-tailed Bristlebill
Grey-headed Bristlebill
Spotted Greenbul
Swamp Palm Bulbul | Swamp Greenbul
Simple Greenbul
Honeyguide Greenbul
Red-tailed Greenbul
Plain Greenbul
Little Grey Greenbul | Gray Greenbul
Ansorge’s Greenbul
White-throated Greenbul
Icterine Greenbul
Red-tailed Leaflove | Leaf-love
Baumann’s Olive Greenbul | Baumann’s Greenbul
Square-tailed Saw-wing
Red-chested Swallow
White-bibbed Swallow | White-throated Blue Swallow
West African Swallow
Preuss’s Cliff Swallow | Preuss’s Swallow
Grey Longbill
Lemon-bellied Crombec
Chestnut-capped Flycatcher
Green Hylia
Tit Hylia
Black-backed Cisticola
Sierra Leone Prinia (UGE)
Black-capped Apalis
Sharpe’s Apalis (UGE)
Oriole Warbler
Yellow-browed Camaroptera
Olive-green Camaroptera
Rufous-crowned Eremomela
Brown Illadopsis
Pale-breasted Illadopsis
Blackcap Illadopsis
Puvel’s Illadopsis
Rufous-winged Illadopsis (UGE)
Violet-backed Hyliota
Splendid Starling
Chestnut-winged Starling
Narrow-tailed Starling
Finsch’s Rufous Thrush | Finsch’s Flycatcher-Thrush
White-tailed Ant Thrush
Grey Ground Thrush
White-tailed Alethe
Forest Scrub Robin
Fraser’s Forest Flycatcher | African Forest Flycatcher
White-browed Forest Flycatcher
Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher
Grey Tit-Flycatcher
Nimba Flycatcher (UGE)
Cassin’s Flycatcher
Olivaceous Flycatcher
Little Grey Flycatcher | Little Flycatcher
Dusky-blue Flycatcher
Tessmann’s Flycatcher
Ussher’s Flycatcher
Brown-chested Alethe
Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat
Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat
Orange-breasted Forest Robin
Grey-winged Robin-Chat
Lowland Akalat
Fraser’s Sunbird
Mangrove Sunbird | Mouse-brown Sunbird
Little Green Sunbird
Yellow-chinned Sunbird
Blue-throated Brown Sunbird
Buff-throated Sunbird
Carmelite Sunbird
Tiny Sunbird
Beautiful Sunbird
Splendid Sunbird
Johanna’s Sunbird
Superb Sunbird
Slender-billed Weaver
Olive-naped Weaver
Orange Weaver
Chestnut-and-black Weaver
Yellow-mantled Weaver
Maxwell’s Black Weaver
Preuss’s Weaver
Red-vented Malimbe
Blue-billed Malimbe
Red-headed Malimbe
Crested Malimbe
Green Twinspot | Green-backed Twinspot
Red-fronted Antpecker
White-breasted Nigrita
Chestnut-breasted Nigrita
Grey-headed Nigrita
Pale-fronted Nigrita
Western Bluebill
Dybowski’s Twinspot

Red-vented Malimbe (Paul van Giersbergen)
Finsch’s Rufous Thrush (Paul van Giersbergen)
Capuchin Babbler (Dubi Shapiro)

Lowland forest, moist savanna

Upper Guinea forests Endemic Bird Area
10 Important Bird Areas

Gola Rainforest National Park (NP), Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Area Peninsula NP and Loma Mountains for lowland forest species, including Upper Guinea endemics
Bumbuna and Outamba-Kilimi NP for savanna woodland species, including Stone Partridge, Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle, Grasshopper Buzzard, Black Scimitarbill, Abyssinian Roller, Blue-bellied Roller, Striped Kingfisher, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Double-toothed Barbet, Fine-spotted Woodpecker, African Grey Woodpecker, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Fox Kestrel, Red-headed Lovebird, Senegal Batis, Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike, Yellow-billed Shrike, Sun Lark, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Northern Crombec, Rufous Cisticola, Red-winged Prinia, Senegal Eremomela, Brown Babbler, Blackcap Babbler, African Spotted Creeper, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Lesser Blue-eared Starling, White-crowned Robin-Chat, White-fronted Black Chat, Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Sahel Bush Sparrow, Compact Weaver, Northern Red Bishop, Grey-headed Oliveback, Black-bellied Firefinch, Bar-breasted Firefinch, West African Seedeater, Gosling’s Bunting and Cabanis’s Bunting

TIMING (Nov, Feb–Mar)
Best when it is dry and access is easier (Oct–Mar)
Whydahs and indigobirds are likely to be in breeding plumage straight after the rains (Oct–Dec)
Avoid the main rains (Jun–Sep)

Birds of Africa (iOS or Android)

Field guides
Birds of Western Africa by Nik Borrow & Ron Demey (2014)

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

Site guides
Birding in Sierra Leone: an Emerging West African Destination by Frank Lambert (2009)
Birding Sierra Leone by Peter Ryan (2006)

Sierra Leone Bird Atlas Project, a member of the African Bird Atlas Project

Further reading
State of Sierra Leone’s Birds: a Guide for Policy and Conservation Action by Arnold D Okoni-Williams, Hazell Shokellu Thompson & Sama Sahr Monde (2014)
The Birds of Gola Forest and Tiwai Island, Sierra Leone by Erik Klop, Jeremy A Lindsell & Alhaji M Siaka (2010)
Waterbirds in Coastal Wetlands of Sierra Leone, January-February 2005 by Jan van der Winden, Alhaji Siaka, Sjoerd Dirksen & Martin Poot (2007)
Land Cover and Avian Biodiversity in Rice Fields and Mangroves of West Africa by Daan Bos, Ion Grigoras & Abdoulaye Ndiaye (2006)
Important Bird Areas in Sierra Leone: Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation by Arnold D Okoni-Williams, Hazell Shokellu Thompson, Alie P Koroma & Peter Wood (2005)
Sierra Leone by Arnold D Okoni-Williams, Hazell Shokellu Thompson, Peter Wood, Alie P Koroma & Peter Robertson in Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority Sites for Conservation edited by Lincoln D C Fishpool & Michael I Evans (2001)
The Status and Conservation of Threatened Birds in the Upper Guinea Forest by Gary Allport (1991)
The Conservation of the Birds of Gola Forest, Sierra Leone by Gary Allport, Malcolm Ausden, Peter V Hayman, Peter Robertson & Peter Wood (1989)
Sierra Leone Birding Trip: Records of Interest by Robert Langhendries & Benoît Forget (2010)
Sierra Leone Year Report & Records of Interest by Momoh B Sesay (2017)
Articles in Malimbus, Bull. ABC, etc.

Gola Rainforest National Park
Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary
Sierra Leone Tours – Ashanti African Tours

Facebook groups
Sierra Leone Bird Atlas Project
Birds of Sierra Leone


The Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) is the BirdLife Partner in Sierra Leone

Other bird or conservation organisations active in Sierra Leone include –
The Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA)
The Environmental Forum for Action (ENFORAC)
Friends of the Earth Sierra Leone (FOESL)
Partenariat Régional pour la Conservation de la Zone Côtière et Marine (PRCM) en Afrique de l’Ouest
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

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