The bird species within Kruger to Canyons are of great interest to the local and international birding fraternity.
Ninety percent of all raptors and vulture species found in South Africa are here.
There are eight species endemic to the Biosphere. The Blue Swallow (Hirundo atrocaerulea), also an endangered species, is of particular interest. The nests of this breeding migrant are situated predominantly just out of core Biosphere areas in private forestry land. The Mondi Forestry Company has a regular monitoring program in place for these birds.
There are 50 red data book species here.
Special ‘ticks’ for twitchers include:
- the 'Big Six' of the Lappet-faced Vulture, Saddle-billed Stork, the Martial Eagle, Pels Fishing Owl, the Kori Bustard (Africa’s largest flying bird) and the Ground Hornbill;
- the White-backed night Heron;
- the African Finfoot;
- the Black rumped Button Quail; and
- and what is termed the Beautiful Three – the Knysna Loerie, Purple-crested Turac and the Narina Trogon.
The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrines) is considered rare, and over the years has been subjected to casual persecution. Falconers favour the bird, and have been known to remove chicks from nests even in protected areas. It is possible that pesticide residues in the eggshell have also contributed to the decline of this bird (as has been noted in the Northern Hemisphere).
Saddle Billed Stork
All of the southern African storks can be seen in the Biosphere area, and all but one are Red Data Book species (mainly of rare status). The White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) is also a South African endemic.
The Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres), a vulnerable endemic of South Africa, has a large breeding colony along the escarpment cliffs which has been declared a National Heritage Site. This is the fourth largest colony of these raptors in the world.
Also worth noting is that all 12 owl species of South Africa are found within the Biosphere Reserve.
The most southern population of the Taita Falcon (a relatively recent new phenomenon locally) falls well within the Biosphere Reserve area, and can now be seen fairly frequently by experienced birders.
Their presence enhances the case currently being made to have the Blyde River Canyon recognised as a global Important Bird Area.
- Explore our Limpopo Lanner: Birds of the North guided safari, taking in the ornithological delights of the Pafuri region
- Contrast it with the Blue Swallow: Southern Birding itinerary (also guided), incorporating the Blyde River Canyon and the core of the protected Lowveld
- K2C News: Migratory Birds on the Return
- Move on to the Insect Kingdom in the Kruger, or to read about the importance of wasps.