Top 15 Types Of Birds That Live In African Shrublands (with Photos)

The African shrublands are home to a myriad of fascinating bird species, each with its unique characteristics and adaptations to this diverse ecosystem. From the majestic Secretarybird, known for its impressive height and powerful hunting abilities, to the vibrant Lilac-breasted Roller, with its dazzling plumage and acrobatic flight patterns, these birds never fail to captivate the avid observer.

However, these are just a glimpse of the avian wonders that reside in this vast landscape. So, if you’re curious to uncover more about the remarkable types of birds that call the African shrublands their home, prepare to embark on a journey that will unveil the hidden treasures of this enchanting habitat.


The Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) is a large, distinctive bird of prey that is native to the African shrublands. This unique bird species can be found in a variety of habitats including grasslands, savannas, and open plains.

They are well-adapted to their environment, with long legs that allow them to walk and run on the ground, and an impressive wingspan that enables them to soar through the air.

Secretarybirds are renowned for their hunting behavior, which primarily consists of stomping on their prey with their strong legs and sharp talons. They primarily feed on small mammals, reptiles, and insects, and have been observed to consume venomous snakes.

Due to habitat loss and hunting, the secretarybird population has been declining. Conservation efforts are underway to protect their habitat and raise awareness about the importance of preserving this unique bird species.

Lilac-breasted Roller

An image showcasing the vibrant Lilac-breasted Roller perched on a thorny Acacia branch, displaying its stunning plumage – a kaleidoscope of lilac, turquoise, and orange hues – against the vast expanse of the African shrublands

With its vibrant plumage and distinctive aerial acrobatics, the lilac-breasted roller (Coracias caudatus) is a captivating and iconic bird species found in the African shrublands. Known for its stunning lilac breast feathers, this medium-sized bird is a sight to behold. The lilac-breasted roller is highly territorial and can often be found perched on tree branches, scanning its surroundings for prey. It is an opportunistic feeder, feeding on a variety of insects, small reptiles, and even small birds.

When it comes to breeding habits, the lilac-breasted roller is monogamous, forming long-term pair bonds. During courtship, the male performs impressive aerial displays, showcasing its bright colors and agility. The female then selects a suitable nest site, usually a natural tree cavity or abandoned woodpecker hole. The female lays a clutch of 2 to 4 eggs, which are then incubated by both parents for about 22 to 24 days. After hatching, the parents take turns in feeding and caring for the chicks until they fledge at around 20 to 25 days old.

The lilac-breasted roller’s distinctive behavior patterns and breeding habits make it a fascinating species to observe in the African shrublands.

African Fish Eagle

An image capturing the majestic African Fish Eagle in flight, its striking white head and vivid brown plumage contrasting against a backdrop of lush green shrublands

The African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) is a large raptor species prominently found in the African shrublands. With its striking appearance and distinct call, the African Fish Eagle is often considered the unofficial emblem of Africa.

This majestic bird can be easily recognized by its dark brown plumage, white head, and large, hooked beak. Its wingspan can reach up to 2 meters, allowing it to soar gracefully over lakes and rivers in search of its primary food source: fish.

The African Fish Eagle is well-adapted for its aquatic hunting lifestyle. Its powerful talons and sharp beak enable it to catch and carry fish weighing up to 2 kilograms. This bird of prey is known for its exceptional eyesight, which allows it to spot fish from a great distance as it circles high above the water. Once it has spotted its prey, the African Fish Eagle will swoop down and snatch the fish from the water’s surface using its sharp talons.

Although the African Fish Eagle is primarily found in shrublands, it can also be seen near rivers and lakes, where it builds large nests in tall trees. Interestingly, the African Fish Eagle often shares its habitat with other notable bird species, such as the secretarybird. These birds have distinct roles within the ecosystem, with the African Fish Eagle being the top predator in the sky and the secretarybird dominating the ground with its powerful legs and hunting skills.

Kori Bustard

An image capturing the majestic Kori Bustard in its natural habitat within the African shrublands

A prominent inhabitant of African shrublands, the Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori) is a large and distinctive bird species known for its impressive size and unique courtship displays.

As the heaviest flying bird native to Africa, the Kori Bustard can weigh up to 40 pounds and reach a height of 4 feet. Its plumage is predominantly grey and brown, providing excellent camouflage in its arid habitat.

The Kori Bustard is primarily a ground-dwelling bird that feeds on a varied diet consisting of insects, small mammals, reptiles, and seeds. Despite its size, it is an adept runner and can reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.

Interestingly, the Kori Bustard shares its habitat with another iconic bird species, the Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius), which is known for its long legs and distinctive crest of feathers.

Both birds are important indicators of the health of the African shrublands and play vital roles in maintaining the delicate ecosystem.

Martial Eagle

An image capturing the majestic presence of a Martial Eagle soaring above the vast African shrublands

The Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus) is a large predatory bird species found in African shrublands. With a wingspan of up to 2.6 meters and a weight of around 6 kilograms, it is one of the largest eagles in Africa. The Martial Eagle is known for its powerful build, sharp talons, and keen eyesight, which enable it to hunt a wide range of prey including mammals, birds, and reptiles.

To understand the predator-prey dynamics involving the Martial Eagle, a table is provided below:

Prey Description
Small mammals Such as hares, small antelopes, and mongooses
Birds Including guinea fowls, francolins, and doves
Reptiles Such as snakes and monitor lizards
Insects Like grasshoppers and beetles

Conservation efforts are crucial to protect the Martial Eagle due to habitat loss, illegal hunting, and poisoning. Organizations are working to raise awareness about the importance of conserving the species and its habitat. Additionally, monitoring programs are being implemented to track population trends and identify key areas for conservation action. By understanding the predator-prey dynamics and implementing effective conservation strategies, we can ensure the long-term survival of this magnificent bird in African shrublands.

African Grey Hornbill

An image showcasing the African Grey Hornbill in its natural habitat, perched atop a thorny Acacia tree, surrounded by golden savannah grasslands, with a vibrant sunset painting the sky in hues of orange and purple

With the Martial Eagle as a prominent predator in African shrublands, it is essential to explore the ecological role and characteristics of the African Grey Hornbill (Tockus nasutus).

The African Grey Hornbill is a medium-sized bird known for its distinctive appearance and fascinating behavioral patterns. These birds are primarily found in sub-Saharan Africa, where they inhabit savannas and woodland areas.

African Grey Hornbills are highly social and form monogamous pairs for life. They are often seen flying in small groups or perched on trees, communicating through a series of calls and vocalizations.

When it comes to feeding habits, these hornbills have a diverse diet that includes fruits, insects, small reptiles, and even small mammals. They use their large, curved bills to catch and consume their prey.

The African Grey Hornbill plays a crucial role in the ecosystem by dispersing seeds through their droppings, contributing to the regeneration of plant species in the African shrublands.

Lappet-faced Vulture

An image capturing the majestic silhouette of a Lappet-faced Vulture perched atop a thorny Acacia tree, its sharp beak and large wingspan highlighted against the vibrant hues of an African shrubland sunset

One of the prominent avian species found in African shrublands is the Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos), known for its impressive size and unique physical characteristics. These vultures have a wingspan of up to 2.8 meters and can weigh over 9 kilograms. They have a distinct appearance with a featherless head and neck, covered in wrinkled, pinkish skin, and a prominent lappet or fleshy fold of skin on their neck.

Lappet-faced Vultures play a crucial role in the African ecosystem as scavengers, feeding on carrion and helping to maintain the balance of the ecosystem. However, their population has been declining due to various factors, including habitat loss, poisoning from carcasses treated with toxic chemicals, and illegal trade. Conservation efforts for Lappet-faced Vultures include establishing protected areas, promoting awareness campaigns, and monitoring their populations.

Secretarybirds (Sagittarius serpentarius) also play a role in the African ecosystem by controlling rodent populations, which indirectly benefits the vultures by providing a steady supply of carrion.

Crimson-breasted Shrike

 the vibrant essence of the African shrublands with an image showcasing the stunning Crimson-breasted Shrike perched atop a twisted Acacia branch, its crimson plumage contrasting against the arid, golden landscape

The Crimson-breasted Shrike (Laniarius atrococcineus) is a species of bird found in the African shrublands, known for its vibrant plumage and distinctive vocalizations. This small passerine bird is characterized by its crimson breast and black and white plumage. It is commonly found in the savannas and woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa, where it prefers habitats with dense shrubbery and open areas with scattered trees.

The Crimson-breasted Shrike primarily feeds on insects, such as grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars. It is also known to consume small reptiles and frogs. Its diet is supplemented with fruits and seeds, particularly during the dry season when insect prey is scarce.

During the breeding season, the Crimson-breasted Shrike exhibits elaborate courtship displays to attract a mate. The male performs a display flight, showcasing its bright plumage and singing loudly. The pair then constructs a cup-shaped nest made of twigs, grass, and leaves, typically placed in the fork of a tree branch. The female lays a clutch of 2-4 eggs, which she incubates for about 14-16 days.

The Crimson-breasted Shrike is a fascinating bird that thrives in the African shrublands. Its habitat requirements, diet, and breeding behavior make it a unique and important species in the ecosystem.

Pygmy Falcon

An image showcasing the mesmerizing Pygmy Falcon, a bird species found in African shrublands

In the diverse shrublands of Africa, another remarkable bird species can be found: the Pygmy Falcon (Polihierax semitorquatus). This small raptor, measuring only 20 centimeters in length, is known for its unique breeding habits and hunting techniques.

Pygmy Falcons are monogamous birds, forming long-term pairs. They construct their nests in tree cavities, abandoned nests of other birds, or even in abandoned termite mounds. These nests are lined with grass and feathers, providing a comfortable environment for their offspring. Breeding occurs during the dry season, typically from April to September, when food resources are more abundant.

As for their hunting techniques, Pygmy Falcons are known for their aerial agility and acrobatics. They primarily feed on insects, small reptiles, and small birds. They use their swift flight and sharp vision to spot prey from a distance, then swoop down to catch it mid-air. With their sharp beaks and talons, they quickly dispatch their prey before consuming it.

The Pygmy Falcon’s unique breeding habits and hunting techniques make it a fascinating bird species that has successfully adapted to the African shrublands.

Tawny Eagle

 the regal essence of the African shrublands with an image of a majestic Tawny Eagle soaring gracefully against a golden sunset, its wings outstretched as it surveys its vast kingdom from above

The Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax) is a large bird of prey that inhabits the African shrublands with its impressive wingspan and majestic appearance. These eagles have a body length of about 65 to 75 centimeters and a wingspan of approximately 165 to 185 centimeters. They are predominantly brown in color with lighter feathers on their belly, and they have a distinctive pale patch on their shoulders.

Tawny eagles are skilled hunters, employing various techniques to catch their prey. They primarily feed on small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. These eagles often perch on elevated locations, such as trees or cliffs, and scan the surrounding area for potential prey. Once they spot their target, they dive down swiftly and capture it with their sharp talons.

During the breeding season, Tawny Eagles engage in elaborate courtship displays to attract a mate. The male performs aerial displays, soaring high in the sky while calling out loudly. The female also participates by engaging in flight displays and vocalizations. Once a pair is formed, they build a large nest made of sticks and twigs high in a tree or on a rocky ledge. The female lays 1 to 3 eggs, which are incubated by both parents for about 45 to 50 days.

Overall, the Tawny Eagle is a remarkable bird of prey that demonstrates impressive hunting techniques and interesting mating behavior in the African shrublands.

Tawny Eagle
Wingspan 165 to 185 cm
Body Length 65 to 75 cm
Color Predominantly brown with lighter belly feathers
Prey Small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects
Nesting Large nest made of sticks and twigs, incubation period of 45 to 50 days

Southern Ground Hornbill

An image showcasing the majestic Southern Ground Hornbill amidst the vast African shrublands

With its striking black plumage, powerful physique, and distinct red facial skin, the Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) is a remarkable avian species found in the African shrublands. This large, ground-dwelling bird is known for its unique behavioral patterns and mating rituals.

Southern Ground Hornbills are highly social birds, living in groups of up to 10 individuals consisting of a dominant breeding pair and their offspring. They communicate through a variety of vocalizations, including booming calls that can be heard over long distances.

Mating rituals among Southern Ground Hornbills are elaborate and involve displays of courtship behavior, such as bowing, wing flapping, and bill dueling. These rituals help strengthen pair bonds and ensure successful breeding. Once a pair forms, they build a large nest in a tree cavity where the female lays one to three eggs. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and raising the chicks.

Despite their unique characteristics and behaviors, Southern Ground Hornbills face several challenges, resulting in declining populations. Habitat loss, due to human activities and land-use changes, is a significant threat to their survival. Additionally, they are sometimes hunted for their feathers, body parts, and as trophies.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect this species, including habitat restoration, captive breeding programs, and public awareness campaigns. By understanding their behavioral patterns and habitat requirements, conservationists aim to ensure the long-term survival of these magnificent birds in the African shrublands.

Pale Chanting Goshawk

An image showcasing a regal Pale Chanting Goshawk perched atop a thorny acacia branch in the vast African shrublands

The Pale Chanting Goshawk (Melierax canorus) is a predatory bird species found in the African shrublands, known for its distinctive pale plumage and melodious vocalizations. This bird species belongs to the Accipitridae family and is commonly found in the savannahs and arid regions of sub-Saharan Africa. The Pale Chanting Goshawk is a medium-sized raptor, measuring around 55-62 centimeters in length, with a wingspan of approximately 120-140 centimeters. It has a pale grey to light brown plumage, which helps it blend in with the dry grasses and sandy soils of its habitat. The bird’s vocalizations, often described as a repetitive and melodious chant, are used for territorial defense and courtship displays. The table below provides a summary of key information about this fascinating bird species.

Common Name Scientific Name Family
Pale Chanting Goshawk Melierax canorus Accipitridae
Habitat African shrublands
Size 55-62 cm
Wingspan 120-140 cm

The Pale Chanting Goshawk is a skilled hunter, feeding primarily on small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. It is often seen perched on elevated branches or soaring high in the sky, scanning the ground for potential prey. This bird species plays an important role in the ecosystem by regulating populations of its prey and contributing to the overall biodiversity of the African shrublands.

Red-billed Hornbill

An image capturing the vibrant beauty of a Red-billed Hornbill perched on an acacia branch in the African shrublands

After exploring the fascinating characteristics of the Pale Chanting Goshawk, we now turn our attention to the Red-billed Hornbill, a captivating bird species found in the African shrublands.

The Red-billed Hornbill, or Tockus erythrorhynchus, is a medium-sized bird known for its striking appearance and unique behavior. It is easily recognizable by its bright red bill and black and white plumage. This species is often seen perched on tree branches or flying with its distinct undulating flight pattern.

Red-billed Hornbills are social birds, often found in small groups or pairs. They build their nests in tree hollows using mud and droppings, where the female will lay her eggs. Interestingly, Red-billed Hornbills have a symbiotic relationship with the Secretarybird, as they often follow the Secretarybird to feed on insects that are disturbed by its foraging activities.

This relationship highlights the interconnectedness of species in the African shrublands and the importance of conservation efforts to preserve their habitats.

Crested Francolin

An image showcasing the magnificent Crested Francolin in its African shrubland habitat

Now, let us delve into the world of the Crested Francolin, a fascinating bird species inhabiting the African shrublands.

The Crested Francolin, scientifically known as Dendroperdix sephaena, is a medium-sized bird with a distinctive appearance. It has a dark brown plumage, streaked with white and black, and a prominent, forward-curving crest on its head.

Crested Francolins are primarily ground-dwelling birds and are commonly found in open grasslands and shrublands throughout Africa. They prefer areas with dense vegetation where they can find cover and forage for seeds, fruits, and insects. Their behavior includes forming small family groups and engaging in elaborate courtship displays, which involve calling, puffing up their feathers, and chasing each other.

Conservation efforts for the Crested Francolin are crucial due to habitat loss and hunting pressure. Protected areas and reserves have been established to safeguard their habitat. Additionally, educating local communities about the importance of conservation and promoting sustainable hunting practices are essential steps towards preserving this magnificent bird species.

Yellow-billed Hornbill

An image capturing the vibrant essence of the African shrublands, showcasing a majestic Yellow-billed Hornbill perched atop a gnarled Acacia tree, backlit by a golden sunset, its distinctively long yellow beak and striking black and white plumage on full display

The Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) is a medium-sized bird known for its distinctive appearance and behavior. It measures about 48 cm in length and weighs approximately 200 grams. The most notable characteristic of this species is its large, yellow bill which is slightly curved and has a casque on top. The plumage of the Yellow-billed Hornbill is predominantly black, with white markings on the wings and tail.

These birds are often seen perching on trees or flying short distances within their habitat. They primarily feed on fruits, insects, and small vertebrates. Yellow-billed Hornbills are commonly found in savannas, woodlands, and shrublands across sub-Saharan Africa, including areas that are also inhabited by the Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius).

These birds prefer habitats with a mix of open grassy areas and scattered trees or bushes, which provide both foraging opportunities and suitable nesting sites. With their unique appearance and habitat preferences, Yellow-billed Hornbills play an important role in the ecosystem of African shrublands.

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