Endemic Birds of Namibia and where to spot them
Namibia’s rich and diverse landscape supports a vast array of incredible wildlife, not only in its expansive and sprawling game reserves but even on unprotected land. This fascinating Southwest African nation is known to house the largest population of cheetahs on the planet and the country is also famed for its abundance of Cape Fur seals that inhabit the Skeleton Coast.
Although estimates vary, Namibia is said to be home to 640 incredible species of native bird, making it one of the best places for birding in Africa. Out of those 640 species, only one is truly endemic-the Dune lark- that hatches, matures and reproduces in the country.
However, owing to the unique Namib Desert and high central plateau, Namibia also boasts 14 near-endemic species and each year scores of avid bird watchers are drawn to areas such as Etosha National Park and the Sossusvlei in a bid to capture some amazing snaps of these avian wonders.
If you’re considering booking a Namibia safari tour and spotting these endemic and near-endemic species is high on your agenda, check out our guide below for a breakdown of each species and info about where to find them.
As mentioned above, the iconic Dune Lark is Namibia’s only true endemic species, and these majestic birds can be found inhabiting the arid riverbeds that run between the towering dunes of the Namib desert. Head to places like the Sossusvlei and capture some incredible snaps of these attractive larks; their colour contrasts perfectly against the backdrop of the red/orange dunes.
Unlike other tropical regions, Africa is not generally renowned for its parrots, but the Rosy-face Lovebird, also known as the Peach-faced Lovebird, is one that really stands out. These miniature parrots are found exclusively in arid areas of Namibia, and they are known to nest inside Social Weaver colonies.
Unlike the Rosy-faced Lovebird, Ruppell’s parrots are a lot more elusive and difficult to spot given that they often hide in the Acacia woodlands. Head to central Namibia and explore the dry riverbeds for the best chance to see these beautiful birds; they are most active at sunrise and sunset.
Another elusive and hard-to-spot species, Hartlaub’s Francolin inhabit the rocky mountainous regions that stretch from central Namibia to Angola. The best time to spot these birds is at the break of dawn, so set your alarm clock early! You’ll often know that a Hartlaub’s Francolin is close by because of their unusual shriek!
Characterized by their striking white faces and darkened eyes, and often found in places like Etosha National Park, Damara Hornbills are very busy and energetic birds, renowned for their strange and repetitive throbbing calls.
One of Namibia’s most iconic species, Ruppell’s Bustards are noisy and territorial birds that can often be spotted flying in small groups. Unlike other near-endemic species, these birds are lower flying and prefer the drier and flatter areas that surround the Namib desert.
Hugely attractive, and relatively easy to spot from a distance, Monteiro’s Hornbills are a large species that inhabit the drier woodlands of central Namibia. Approach quietly and you’ll be able to capture some incredible shots of these birds as they forage on the ground.
Up until recently Barlow’s Larks were thought to be exclusive to the diamond fields and southern coastal regions of Namibia. However, over the last decade there have been plenty of new sightings in the north-western region of the country. Barlow’s Larks favour coastal scrubs and flat land but be warned that this species can be very tricky to spot!
The majestic Long-billed Larks prefer arid desert landscapes and rocky areas, where they can use their huge bills to forage for food in the desert soil. The best place to spot them is in central Namibia, north of Brandberg Mountain.
Usually spotted in pairs, these incredible Tits, known for their dramatic black and white colours, are commonly found in the area that stretches from the central Namibian woodlands all the way through to Southern Angola.
Often found inhabiting the bushes of Etosha National Park, as well as on the edges of mountains and ravines, Herero Chats are renowned for their incredible melodic chirps. Bring a recording device, as well as your camera, and capture their enchanting song!
Arguably the most famous and distinctive of the five babblers that call Namibia Home, Bare-cheeked Babblers can often be spotted in small family groups at ground level. Friendly and generally unnerved when approached, head to Etosha National Park for the best chance of spotting this social species.
Found exclusively in the Namib desert, the incredible Gray’s Lark, with its pale complexion and intriguing feathers, is one of Namibia’s most famous bird species. Uniquely, these birds perform acrobatic aerial displays at the crack of dawn when temperatures are cooler; watching them perform this stunning routine is a big highlight if you’re considering a bird watching trip to Namibia.
The aptly named White-tailed Shrike is a spritely and energetic bird that can be found in the rocky regions of central Namibia. This species prefers flying low where it can forage on the ground for food. Grab your camera and look out for their characteristic head-cock!
The Rockrunner, also referred to as the Damara Rockjumper, is one of the quickest and most agile birds in the whole of Namibia. Baring some resemblance to other species, such as those from the Warbler and Babber families, Rockrunners are renowned for their beautiful bubbling chirps. As the name suggest, this species can be found in Namibia’s rocky regions, as well as the Fish River Canyon.