Sierra Leone

West Africa

72,180 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)
White-breasted Guineafowl
Rufous Fishing Owl
Timneh Parrot
Turati’s Boubou
Emerald Starling
Gola Malimbe
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)
Little Green Woodpecker
Melancholy Woodpecker
Red-cheeked Wattle-eye
Red-billed Helmetshrike
Western Wattled Cuckooshrike
White-necked Rockfowl Yellow-headed Picathartes
Green-tailed Bristlebill
Western Bearded Greenbul
Yellow-bearded Greenbul
Fanti Saw-wing
Pied-winged Swallow
Kemp’s Longbill
Copper-tailed Starling
Yellow-winged Pytilia
Cameroon Indigobird

Proposed new species or splits not yet accepted by IOC
Black-shouldered Nightjar (B2)
Western Piping Hornbill
Western White-crested Hornbill
Western Yellow-spotted Barbet
Rufous-bellied Wattle-eye (BT)
Grey-hooded Capuchin Babbler (BT)
Bannerman’s Pipit

Other taxa of interest, including endemic subspecies (ESS)
Latham’s Francolin
Ahanta Spurfowl
Double-spurred Spurfowl
Congo Serpent Eagle
Yellow-billed Turaco (macrorhynchus)
Brown Nightjar
African Black Swift (ESS glanvillei)
Blue-moustached Bee-eater
Brown-cheeked Hornbill
Yellow-casqued Hornbill
Hairy-breasted Barbet
Spotted Honeyguide
Brown-eared Woodpecker (arizela)
Fire-bellied Woodpecker
West African Wattle-eye
Fiery-breasted Bushshrike
Lagden’s Bushshrike
Sabine’s Puffback
Lowland Sooty Boubou
Yellow-crowned Gonolek (ESS helenae)
Blue Cuckooshrike
Dusky Crested Flycatcher
Grey-headed Bristlebill
Yellow-throated Leaflove
White-bibbed Swallow
Sierra Leone Prinia
Sharpe’s Apalis
Rufous-winged Illadopsis
Puvel’s Illadopsis
Capuchin Babbler
Blackcap Babbler
Finsch’s Rufous Thrush
Grey Ground Thrush
White-tailed Alethe
Forest Scrub Robin (colstoni)
White-browed Forest Flycatcher
Nimba Flycatcher
Ussher’s Flycatcher
Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat
Lowland Akalat
Mangrove Sunbird
Buff-throated Sunbird
Chestnut-and-black Weaver
Maxwell’s Black Weaver
Red-vented Malimbe
Red-fronted Antpecker

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 forest species
Bumbuna and Outamba-Kilimi NP for savanna species

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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