Birding Namibia

Picture: Crimson-breasted Shrike in Etosha

Namibia as a country in the international arena is still not very well known, despite a fast developing tourism industry in recent years. It is certainly not the first country that comes to mind as a birding destination. If you happen to know just a little about Namibia it is likely that your image of Namibia is a country of fast deserts and dune fields, and perhaps know a little of it's German heritage (Namibia is one of the very few African interests the Germans had prior to the first world war.)

But Namibia a very most certainly worth a birding trip (or even a few trips.) Namibia is home to well over 650...I believe that they now say, with vagrants included, we have just over 700 species (I am trying to find out where I can confirm that number.) It doesn't matter. We have lots of birds.

Namibia is packed with diversity. Ask a traveler who has covered much of Namibia their impression and often you will hear how strikingly different every single place they visited is. The Namib, a hyper arid region stretching the entire coast, and inland for some 150km, is very, very diverse, with regions of great big dry river beds, rocky hills, dunes, and gravel and sandy plains. And, of course,
diversity of habitat means diversity of birds.

Because of it's uniqueness there are many birds that are near endemic. Namibia has only one true endemic bird, the Dune Lark, but quiet a few that just touch Angola or South Africa. These include the White-tailed Shrike, Rockrunner, Hartlaub's Babbler, Carp's Tit, Grey's Lark, Monteiro's Woodhoopoes, Rüppell's Parrot, Rüppell's Korhaan, Hartlaub's Francolin, Benguela Long-billed Lark, and the Barlow's Lark. Damara Tern's breeding is almost only confined to Namibia's coastline.

Added to this are a number of specials found in the region. These include birds like the Sharp-tailed Starling, Souza's Shrike, Pel's Fishing-owl, Cinderella Waxbill, all of which are found in the far north.

The far north consists of dry broadleaved woodland a few riverine forest patches, in contrast to the Hyper arid regions and the dry Karroo and Kalahari areas, making up the bulk of the remainder of the country.

At the coast several lagoons and other water bodies provide home to many interesting birds, including thousands of summer migrant waders.

Late summer months in Namibia often mean that the game viewing in the parks
is less exciting (animals can spread out in the bush and are not confined to water points,) but this is a great time for birding. The bushes are green, birds are breeding (which helps with the id of some of those troublesome seed-eaters, for example,) and the migrants are present. It also means that lodges and camp sites are less likely to be full. The down side, aside from game viewing, is bugs, including mosquitoes in some areas.

Added, of course, to the birding, is the whole experience of traveling to Namibia, a diverse and interesting country with beautiful landscapes as a defining characteristic of the area, and friendly, helpful people.

I am currently building a website for SafariWise called and building it as an overall travel resource for birders planning to visit Namibia.

The website is still in it's early phase and you can help if you like, by sending me some feedback or ideas. I am still in the early phase of putting it up, cleaning up typos and still adding a bit more content. You are welcome to send feedback to

If you want an idea of what it's like to do birding in Namibia and want to read some great blog posts, read these ones on Peregrines Bird Blog.
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