Birds of Botswana

There a total  593 species of birds in Botswana, of which 4 have been introduced by humans, and 100 are rare or accidental. 8 species are globally threatened. Complete checklist here

The Cattle Egret is the National bird of Botswana.

Botswana birds – excellent page – lots of information – a summary of Botswana and its birds for birders interested in the country and potentially planning a visit.

With a good tourist infrastructure, friendly people and over 500 regularly occurring species, Botswana offers many opportunities for the birdwatcher. It also contains the Okavango delta, one of the jewels of Africa and home to an amazing variety of wildlife. Birdwatching however, can start in and around the capital, Gaborone.

Birdlife Botswana – packed with information

Twelve Important Bird Areas (IBAs) have been designated in Botswana which cover over 25% of the land surface of the country. IBA’s include all of the National Parks, a transfrontier park and the larger Game Reserves e.g. large reserves such as Chobe, Kgalakgadi, and Central Kalahari including Kutse and small areas such as Mannyelanong Hill. Part of the Okavango Delta is a Game Reserve (Moremi Game Reserve) with other parts being Wildlife Management Areas.

They recommend:

Beginner’s Guide to Birds of Botswana

“This superb little book is available from the Gaborone shop or the office at a price of P50 each.  Pictures of about two hundred of the most common birds in Botswana are shown together with short descriptions in Setswana and English.”

The Bradt Travel Guide is the best introduction to the wildlife of the country. The section about birdlife  is online here

Large areas of Botswana are still covered by relatively undisturbed natural vegetation, and hunting is not a significant factor for most of Botswana’s 550 recorded species of birds. Thus, with a range of natural habitats, Botswana is a superb birding destination.

There are fairly clear distinctions between the birds that you’re likely to find in areas of swamp or open water, those that frequent riverine forest, and those found in the drier areas. None are endemic, though several have very restricted distributions. These include the slaty egret, which is restricted to the Okavango, Linyanti and Chobe river systems, the brown firefinch, and the Natal nightjar.

The Okavango Delta is a particularly good place for birdwatching as the habitats change from dry, to flooded, to deep-water over very short distances.

In addition to its resident bird species, Botswana receives many migrants. In September and October the Palaearctic migrants appear (ie: those that come from the Northern Hemisphere – normally Europe), and they remain until around April or May. This is also the peak time to see the intra-African migrants, which come from further north in Africa.

The rains from December to around April see an explosion in the availability of most birds’ food: seeds, fruits and insects. Hence this is the prime time for birds to nest, even if it is also the most difficult time to visit the more remote areas of the country.

Birds in Botswana (Lonely Planet)

Botswana is not only big wildlife country but a birding paradise. Between September and March, when the Delta is flush with water, you should be able to train the lenses of your binoculars on any number of Botswana’s 550 species including the Delta’s famous African skimmers, the endangered wattled crane, slaty egrets, African jacanas, bee-eaters, lilac-breasted rollers, pygmy geese and the shy Pel’s fishing owl. You can still see many bird species in the dry season when it’s often easier to spot them around the few remaining water sources.

Most of Botswana’s birding is concentrated in the north of the country around the Okavango Delta, the Chobe Riverfront, the Nata Bird Sanctuary and the Limpopo River. However, another top spot is the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans National Parks which are covered in a sea of pink flamingos, and other migratory birds, at certain times of the year.

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