by Ash Hooper
on June 26, 2017
3 min read

When animals are difficult to spot you can always count on abundant birdlife to keep your eyes glued to your binoculars. We have some bird pics and tricks on how to identify an unfamiliar bird species when you are out and about in the bush.

First things first, follow these five nifty steps by birding expert Kenneth Newman on how to identify a bird.

  1. Look at its size
  2. Look at its colouring
  3. Look at the size and shape of its beak
  4. Identify the colour of the beak and legs
  5. Finally: check for any unique characteristics, for example, its call, movements, and the habitat in which you find it

The eight birds below were spotted in the Kruger National Park in South Africa as well as well as from around the southern boundary of Botswana, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in Mabuasehube, first of the new ‘peace parks.’ Peace parks join governments and the private sector together to collectively manage Africa’s natural resources. While away in these areas I practised some bird spotting strategies. Take a look at a few of my birding snaps and then try your turn at latin and the tricks it takes to identify these weird and wonderful creatures.

yellow-billed hornbill

Yellow-billed HornbillTockus flavirostris

If you’re lucky, you’ll notice the yellow-billed hornbill with their wings open and heads bowed. Although they are a delight to spot they can also become a highly annoying around the campsite.

pale chanting goshawk

Pale Chanting GoshawkMelierax canorus

This bird of prey is often confused with the dark chanting goshawk. The key difference between the two is where they’re found. If you’re in the Kruger National Park then you’ll spot the rarer dark chanting goshawk, while in southern Botswana, you’ll find it’s pale sibling.

pearl-spotted owl

Pearl-spotted OwlGlaucidium perlatum

The pearl-spotted owl is a very small earless owl that is often seen by day in any woodland region, specifically Mopane bushveld. Interestingly, it has two black marks on the back of its head that give the appearance of eyes.

cape glossy starlings

Cape Glossy StarlingsLamprotornis nitens

These glossy birds are very common and can even become very cheeky around campsites. They are usually found in thornveld, mixed woodland as well as suburbia.

crowned eagle

Crowned EagleStephanoaetus coronatus

Pairs of crowned eagles have territories in heavily forested kloofs or ravines. This large eagle is distinguished by its crested head and it’s shorter wingspan when soaring in the sky.

juvenile crowned eagle

Juvenile Crowned Eagle

Juveniles are initially white and then become more spotted as they grow up until they are entirely brown. It’s challenging to get a clear view as crowned eagles usually perch themselves in well-foliated trees.

red-billed spurfowl

Red-billed Spurfowl (Francolin)Francolinus adspersus

Red-billed spurfowl have a very loud call which turns into a hysteric crackling sound. So if you’re in the Kalahari and for some reason need an alarm clock, do not fear for francolin are near!

lilac-breasted roller

Lilac-breasted RollerCoracias caudata

Lilac-breasted roller’s striking combination of colours makes these birds easily spotted, often perching atop trees and telephone wires.


If you’re interested in trying out these bird spotting steps in reality then chat to one of our expert consultants and they’ll advise the perfect destination for you to find our feathered friends.

Featured image: credit to Rhino Africa