Kruger Birds – Admire the Variety

Behold the Kruger birds! Too many tourists to the game reserve focus only on the big game. A far greater spectacle of variety can be found amongst the dizzying 517 Kruger National Park bird species.

The types of Kruger birds that you can find in the park range from little warblers to water birds and scavengers to eagles. There is such variety!

If you’ve been to the park before and are visiting again, or maybe it’s your first trip, spotting, identifying and marking off birds on a Kruger National Park bird list is a really rewarding and fun way to enjoy the park.

If you’re in the game reserve looking for a book specifically detailing the birds in Kruger National Park, rest camp shops sell them.

Lilac-breasted rollerWhen you’re in the park, keep an eye out for the plentiful and beautiful lilac-breasted rollers with their pastel plumage.

Look for pretty bee-eaters which come in many varieties, including little and white-fronted bee-eaters.

If you’re bird watching in the summer months, you’ll be lucky to see the red carmine bee-eater, which flies further south at this time of year.

Get a bird book to aid with identification. We use and recommend Sasol Birds of Southern Africa. It has lovely watercolour paintings to help you identify birds by their characteristic features and a summary of where each bird species is found.

The book does lack details of bird behaviour and habitats though, so you may want to invest in another book that provides more information in these areas.

Even with a good bird book, it can be difficult or impossible to identify some birds which are extremely similar in size, shape and markings.

Nevertheless, with a little practice, there are plenty of birds that you’ll begin to recognise instantly, especially if you’re following a birding route – a kind of bird safari where you aim to see as many bird species as possible.

Giant kingfisherDon’t forget your binoculars too if you have some. They can really help you see the detail of that bird sitting in the tree a little too far away for the naked eye to pick out the distinguishing features.

If you’d like to see more pictures of the variety of birds in Kruger National Park, have a look at our image gallery.

Kruger Park rest camps and picnic spots are good places to look for birds. Although Kruger National Park birds can be pests near eating areas, trying to pick up scraps or chips off your plate, it’s an opportunity to take great close-up photos, especially if you don’t have a big zoom on your camera. Common birds at eating areas are:

  • Cape glossy starlings
  • Red-billed hornbills
  • Southern yellow-billed hornbills
  • Weavers

Yellow-billed hornbillAlthough rarer, ostriches are found in the park too, often in open plains. Other larger Kruger Park birds to look out for in the grass are:

  • Kori bustards
  • Black-bellied korhaans
  • Southern ground-hornbills

Remember to look to the skies too. Although harder to identify, there’s an array of birds of prey to see, such as the bateleur, and plenty of vultures. If you do see these birds circling above, it’s a good indication that there’s wildlife directly below them.

Bird watching hides, particularly Lake Panic Hide near Skukuza, present you with an opportunity to sit and watch the Kruger birds in exquisite, peaceful surroundings. You can spend ages at the bird hides and sometimes see other game such as hippos, crocodiles and terrapins. If you’re a photographer, take your biggest lens to get some phenomenal bird photos!