Tips for Identifying Birds on SafariMay 22, 2017
With an estimated 10,000 bird species world-wide, of which approximately 2,500 species are endemic or migratory to Africa – it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to identifying birds on safari.
We all know what a lion looks like. You don’t get any ‘points’ for identifying that when you’re on safari. Identifying birds, however, is much more challenging and requires a fair bit of practice and knowledge.
Here a few things to concentrate on when identifying birds on safari:
Size and Shape:
Colour and plumage are important but not the most reliable method of identifying birds. Your first actual clue to what bird you’re looking at, is its general size and shape. For example, is small like a robin? Medium sized liked a dove? Or large like a raptor? It helps to learn typical bird silhouettes, and notice differences in tell-tale parts of a bird such as the bill, wings, and tail. Even subtle differences can yield useful insights if you study them carefully. While a dove may be a similar size to a woodpecker, their silhouettes are vastly different.
Birds are highly predictable when it comes to timing. These migratory patterns are a necessity to the survival of many bird species. If in doubt, consult a local bird books to find out about the seasonal occurrence of a species in that area.
Yes, the bird is pretty, but what exactly is it doing? Noticing the bird’s behaviour is an important part of finding out what it is. Is it wading through water, hopping along the ground, or scuttling up a tree branch? All of these factors can point to the bird’s identity.
More often than not, you’ll be able to hear the call of a bird, but not be able to see it. While this can be frustrating, it is also rather rewarding to be able to correctly identify a bird just from hearing its call. While appearance can vary from bird to bird within a species, depending on its age and sex; the calls are always the same and therefore a highly reliable way of recognising birds.
While these are a few basic things to look out for though, once you’ve got the knack of it, the art of birding is not only rewarding, but also quite addictive.
For helping with planning your perfect safari tailored to your interests, budget and schedule, get in touch with us.
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