During my stay at the ORCA Foundation I was not only keen on seeing just whales and dolphins. Of course, I wished to learn more about birds in South Africa, too. As I’m not a bird expert it was just perfect in South Africa to have had the chance to meet people who could give me a better understanding of birdlife in South Africa.
I especially enjoyed those days when we left early in the morning to meet a team of bird enthusiasts watching them ringing birds. For me it was very interesting as I could see birds I would never have spotted them in the wild alone.
Birds I saw during bird ringing sessions:
Cape batis (Batis capensis)
Cape robin-chat (Cossypha caffra)
Cape white-eye (Zosterops pallidus)
Karoo prinia (Prinia maculosa)
Knysna turaco (Tauraco corythaix)
Sombre greenbul (Andropadus importunus)
Willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Cape sugarbird (Promerops cafer)
Olive thrush (Turdus olivaceus)
Southern double-collard sundbird (Cinnyris chalybeus) – Weibchen
Southern double-collard sundbird (Cinnyris chalybeus) – Männchen
Why do birds in South Africa get a ring?
Of course birds are ringed not only in South Africa but worldwide.
Researchers get long-term information about birds when the birds have a ring on their legs. For example, they get to know more about bird migration, their longevity and mortality.
Thus, bird ringing is important to gain new insights into the life of birds.
The bird ringing team in South Africa was very excited when they “catched” y willow warbler as this willow warbler was from Sibiria.
Of course, the willow warbler and all other birds were released again.
However, as it seemed to us the willow warbler of Sibiria did not want to fly away…
I’m sure bird ringing is not very pleasant for the birds.
At first birds have to be catched with a net like this Cape white-eye…
… or this Southern double-collared sunbird.
Some birds got more entangled than other birds.
However, not everyone is allowed to release a bird from the net. Every bird ringer has to pass through a two-year training.
Only with this certificate bird ringers are allowed to ring birds on their own.
After releasing the birds from the net, bird ringers weigh them like the Knysna turaco in the following photograph. The bird ringers put them into a cup to weigh them (it does not look very comfortable for the bird).
They also measure them like they did with this honeyguide...
… and look at the birds more closely as they did with the sombre greenbul.
The bird ringing team was very happy when they saw a Knysna Turaco. Because they were so excited about the Knysna Turaco, the bird had to endure a more detailed examination by the bird ringers.
Probably the bird didn’t like that.
We watched the bird ringers when they were working. However, they also explained us a lot and told us more about the birds in South Africa.
For example, they explained us feeding habits of Southern double-collared sunbirds. Its long and curved bill perfectly fits into some flowers. And thus, they are perfectly adapted to feed on nectar. Birds without such a long and curved bill are excluded from feeding on these kinds of flowers. They have adapted to another niche.
More birds in South Africa
As I was interested in learning more about birds in South Africa, I continuously looked out for more birds.
Even when we were looking out for whales on an observation platform.
On one observation platform I spotted quite often some African sacred ibises (Threskiornis aethiopicus).
Some birds like this Cape wagtail (Motacilla capensis) in the Robberg Nature Reserve was not shy at all. When we were looking for whales on an observation point I saw this bird.
Sometimes the Cape wagtail moved its head to my direction…
… and sometimes it sang a song.
Sometimes I saw birds, but I did not know how to identify them and there were no other person to ask. Thus, I used iNaturalist to get some help and the community could identify the following birds as Speckled Mousebird (Colius striatus), Blacksmith Lapwing (Vanellus armatus), and Red-winged starling (Onychognathus morio).
On whale watching boats we have seen quite often some cormorants as in the Robberg Nature Reserve is a breeding colony of Cape cormorants (Phalacrocorax capensis).
When we went to Knysna we stopped at a beach where I saw two African oystercatchers (Haematopus moquini).
In the Plettenberg Game Reserve I saw a nest of a Cape weaver (Ploceus capensis).
The biggest bird in South Africa ist the ostrich (Struthio camelus). There are some ostriches in the Cape Peninsula National Park which I visited with an organized tour from Cape Town.
On this tour, of course, I visited the Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town to see the African penguin (Spheniscus demersus).
Birds in South Africa in Birds of Eden
There are many more birds in Birds of Eden – a sanctuary for native and exotic birds.
For example, there was a Knysna turaco (Tauraco corythaix)…
… or an olive thrush (Turdus olivaceus).
Birds in South Africa are just wonderful!