Gorongosa’s Avifauna (aka birds)

Leave it to a bird nerd to try and sound all technical in this blog’s title.  The term avifauna is synonymous with birds and Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique is home to more than 400 species.  Gorongosa’s diversity can be attributed to the kaleidoscope of habitats within the park’s boundaries.

Map of Gorongosa

Gorongosa National Park protects a vast ecosystem defined, shaped, and given life by all the rivers that flow into Lake Urema.  The Park is nestled in a 4,000-square-kilometer section of the Great African Rift system, Africa’s most dramatic geological feature. The Rift extends from Ethiopia to central Mozambique.  Massive tectonic shifts began forming the Rift about 30 million years ago.  Other warpings, uplifts, and sinkings of the earth’s crust over millennia shaped the plateaus on both sides and Gorongosa Mountain to the west. All that commotion, together with sun, wind, and rain at the surface, created a rich collection of soils.  The result is an astounding number of plant species that support an array of animals.

During our four-night stay at Explore Gorongosa (July 3 – 7, 2010), we saw many of the park’s most famous residents (lions, elephants, and Nile crocodiles).  In addition, baboons and warthogs made regular appearances during game drives and during our walking safari.  For the majority in our group, those were the highlights.  I guess you can go ahead and count me in there, too.  The big cats rank at the top of my “favorites” list, and seeing elephants chomp on bark to release its sugary sap was a treat (for us and them). 

However, if you’re constantly on the lookout for the big guys at Gorongosa, you’ll miss out on animals of the feathered variety.  During our game drives and walk, I kept a keen eye out for the birds.  They failed to disappoint. 

Below is a checklist and some photos from our trip.  Seventy-seven species isn’t a bad tally when added to all of the other wonderful displays of animal behavior we saw along the way.

Narina trogon
Lilac-breasted roller
  1. Pink-backed pelican
  2. Reed cormorant
  3. African darter
  4. Grey heron
  5. Great egret
  6. Little egret
  7. Cattle egret
  8. Hammerkop
  9. Wooly-necked stork
  10. African openbill
  11. Saddle-billed stork
  12. Marabou stork
  13. Yellow-billed stork
  14. African sacred ibis
  15. Glossy ibis
  16. Hadeda ibis
  17. African spoonbill
  18. White-faced duck
  19. Egyptian goose
  20. Spur-winged goose
  21. White-backed vulture
  22. Southern banded snake-eagle
  23. Bateleur
  24. African fish-eagle
  25. Lizard buzzard
  26. African harrier-hawk
  27. Dickinson’s kestrel
  28. Red-necked spurfowl
  29. Crested guineafowl
  30. Grey crowned crane
  31. African jacana
  32. Senegal lapwing
  33. Blacksmith lapwing
  34. African wattled lapwing
  35. Long-toed lapwing
  36. Black-winged stilt
  37. Water thick-knee
  38. Bronze-winged courser
  39. Collared pratincole
  40. Cape turtle-dove
  41. Grey go-away-bird
  42. Burchell’s coucal
  43. Barred owlet
  44. Spotted eagle-owl
  45. Mozambique nightjar
  46. Narina trogon
  47. Pied kingfisher
  48. Giant kingfisher
  49. Malachite kingfisher
  50. Striped kingfisher
  51. Brown-hooded kingfisher
  52. Grey-hooded kingfisher
  53. Little bee-eater
  54. Lilac-breasted roller
  55. African hoopoe
  56. Common scimitarbill
  57. African grey hornbill
  58. Crowned hornbill
  59. Greater honeyguide
  60. Bearded woodpecker
  61. Flappet lark
  62. Fork-tailed drongo
  63. Pied crow
  64. Kurrichane thrush
  65. Collared palm-thrush
  66. African paradise-flycatcher
  67. Rattling cisticola
  68. Yellow-throated longclaw
  69. Black-backed puffback
  70. Orange-breasted bush-shrike
  71. White-crested helmet-shrike
  72. Black-bellied starling
  73. Collared sunbird
  74. Spectacled weaver
  75. Red-headed weaver
  76. Red-billed quelea
  77. Blue waxbill
Pair of African fish eagles