25 Stunning Bird Photos From Southern Africa

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Southern Africa has its fair share of stunning birds. Below, a southern carmine bee-eater perches momentarily before taking off after a small insect. These stunning birds are intra-African migrants and will move further north up the continent as we head towards Autumn and Winter.

brown snake eagle

A brown snake eagle, scans for prey from atop a burnt tree stump. Because they primarily hunt snakes, they have scaly, hardened legs to protect them from being bitten whilst they hunt.

Grey heron

A grey heron shouts from a dead tree at the edge of one of the water holes. Although these birds are migratory north of the equator they are resident in South Africa.

giant kingfisher

As its name would suggest, the giant kingfisher, is the largest in the kingfisher family. This is actually one of the kingfishers that does focus its diet on fish and not insects like many of the others.

african jacana

An African jacana, shakes water from its plumage. These rather gorgeous birds have long toes, in fact the largest in proportion to their body size of any bird in the world.

European roller

A European roller perches on a small branch. These birds are also migratory and feed mostly on beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, ants and termites.

water thick knee

A water thick-knee hunkers down during the day on the edge of a water hole. These birds, with their noticeably large eyes are predominantly active at night.

village weaver

A village weaver constructs a nest, thereby hoping to attract a mate. Female weavers will tear down nests that are not up to standard and will only mate with males that construct sturdy nests, which helps to pass the strong weaver making gene onto the next generation.

amur falcon

Amur falcons fly enormous distances from East Asia to spend the summer months in South Africa. These birds collect in large groups in some parts of South Africa have been recorded communally roosting in their thousands.

little bee-eater

Two little bee-eaters, the smallest bee-eaters in the world, sit on a branch waiting to hawk for their next meal. It seems the bee-eater on the right is a juvenile as it has a darker eye and a smaller gorget (blue patch above the eye) than the adult on the left.

black crake

A black crake darts to find cover from a patch of debris in the Sand River. These birds are not often caught in the open for long, making this a great capture.

ostrich

The infamous female ostrich takes a good look into the lens of the camera. Despite being nervous of vehicles when she first arrived, this ostrich is now incredibly relaxed around vehicles.

ostrich

Such a treat getting to see the lonely female ostrich that we watched for so many years on her own, photographed this time with her new family.

red billed oxpecker

A red-billed oxpecker rests on the back of a zebra. These birds are responsible for pulling off ticks and other ectoparasites that live on the skin of large mammals.

juvenile bataleur

A close up of a juvenile bataleur. It takes seven years for these birds to get their black and white adult plumage and brilliant red faces and feet.

lappet-faced vulture

The largest of all the vultures, a lappet-faced prepares to take off here. These birds are renowned for feeding on the skin, tendons and ligaments too tough for other vultures to tackle.

wood sandpiper

A wood sandpiper feeds on some worms, small fish and frogs in the shallower sections of the Sand River. At this angle, one of the ways to distinguish this bird from the fairly similar common sandpiper is the white supercilium which extends beyond the eye.

martial eagle

A Martial eagle, the largest eagle found in this area, scans for prey from high above the ground. With the crushing force capable in their talons, they are capable of hunting prey as big as steenbok and young impala.

bee-eater

A little bee-eater fluffs itself up as it preens from this perch. Most birds preen themselves many times a day to remove dirt and parasites as well as for aesthetic reasons and to ensure their feathers are aligned for more aerodynamic flight.

southern carmine bee-eater

A southern carmine bee-eater takes flight. Despite being incredibly quick and difficult to capture, these birds are one of the best to try photograph because they tend to fly away from and return to the same branch when feeding, allowing the photographer a few opportunities if you’re lucky.

Contributed by and Images by Tony Goldman

Rich Laburn
Rich Laburn is filmmaker, photographer and writer who is based at Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. Spending his time capturing scenes of the wild and communicating the beauty of the African bushveld, he runs the Londolozi Blog as a way to entertain and engage people wishing to visit these wild lands.
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