Birds in the Walter Sisulu NBG

[Amphibians] [Arachnids] [Mammals] [Reptiles]

Over 220 different bird species have been recorded in the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden. This can be ascribed to a number of factors, perhaps the most important being the diversity of habitats and associated plants.

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Egyptian Goose
Chinspot Batis female
Hadeda Ibis


The arrival of spring can not only be seen in the flush of flowers and new growth on the plants, but is also characterised by the return of the summer visiting birds. Perhaps the most evident of these are the cuckoos which make their presence heard in the garden with their characteristic calls.

Common cuckoos in the Garden include the Red-chested Cuckoo (“Piet-my-vrou”), the Black Cuckoo and the Diederik Cuckoo. Cuckoos are brood parasites which lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. These birds raise the cuckoo chicks as their own. Other cuckoos recorded in the Garden include the Jacobin Cuckoo, Klaas’s Cuckoo (“Meitjie”) and the Striped Cuckoo.

Black-crowned TchagraOther distinctive calls which can be heard are the duets of the Southern Boubous (which frequent the area around the Restaurant) and the Black-collared Barbets which may be heard in the more open woodland areas. Occasionally the melodic call of the Black-crowned Tchagra (left) can also be heard there.




African Paradise-Flycatcher (male)In summer the Arboretum is home to the lively African Paradise-Flycatcher (right). The unmistakable long, auburn tail of the male bird trails behind him as he hawks insects amongst the trees.

The Half-collared Kingfisher haunts the reflection pond near the river. It is perhaps one of our loveliest birds. It is small, bright blue with a completely black bill. The Brown-hooded Kingfisher, common in the Summer months, does not feed on fish but mainly on insects and worms.

Red-throated WryneckThe Golden-tailed Woodpecker and the Red-throated Wryneck (left) can often be seen creeping about on old trees where they feed on wood-boring insects.





In autumn the African Olive-Pigeons (Rameron Pigeons) can be seen feasting on the fruits of the White Stinkwood (Celtis africana). The massive tree at the Restaurant is a particular attraction.

Verreaux's EagleThe Verreaux's Eagles (Black Eagles) (right) which have been breeding at the Garden for some years have their nest on the rock face alongside the Witpoortjie Falls. The breeding cycle usually begins in Autumn with stunning aerial courtship displays. The eggs are normally laid in late April with the chicks hatching in mid June. The juvenile’s first attempts at flight can be observed later on in the year.


Cape Rock-Thrush maleSpeckled pigeonOther birds which can be seen on the rock face include the Cape Rock-Thrush (left), Speckled Pigeon (Rock Pigeon) (right), Red-winged Starling and Little Swift.





Malachite sunbird maleThe Succulent Rockery is a must for bird-watchers during Winter and early Spring when the aloes are in full bloom. The magnificent Malachite Sunbird (left) is a frequent visitor and can often be seen probing the aloe flowers for nectar. This bird changes plumage from a pale yellow with green flecks to an iridescent green colour towards the end of Winter.

White-bellied SunbirdOther sunbirds resident in the Garden are the Amethyst Sunbird (Black Sunbird), the Greater Double-collared and the White-bellied Sunbird (right).

Also common on the aloes when in bloom are theDark-capped Bulbul (Blackeyed Bulbul), Cape Weaver, mousebirds, occasionally the Black-headed Oriole and the Cape Glossy Starling.

Additional Winter interests include the dainty Fairy Flycatcher which prefers the wooded areas and the African Wattled, Blacksmith and Crowned Lapwings (Plovers) which feed on the lawns near the entrance.

From the Sasol Cormorant Bird Hide, look out for the Reed Cormorant, Darter, African Black Duck, Green-backed Heron, Littel Grebe (Dabchick) and the Giant Kingfisher. In the wetland area, a walk along the boardwalk enables you to get close to species such as Southern Red Bishops, weavers, waxbills and Grassbirds.

Every season has something special to offer, whether you wish to mark off new species or simply enjoy observing birds in tranquil surroundings.

Birdlist for all the species recorded to date at the Garden.

[Amphibians] [Arachnids] [Mammals] [Reptiles]

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