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The African Birds of Christmas

Hello awesome people! It's been a while since my last blog article, and I am super excited to share a follow-up to one of my previous articles - the 12 Belated Birds of Christmas (read it here).


This has been a long time coming, but without further ado, here's part 2 of "The Belated 12 Birds of Christmas", and this time we're doing the African Continent edition – these are birds that have all been recorded on the African Continent!

12. Beautiful Sunbird (Cinnyris pulchellus)

Forget diamonds, this feathered showstopper struts in ruby slippers, sunshine yellow, and emerald eye-shadow. Beyoncé meets tropical rainforest? Meet the dazzling Beautiful Sunbird, a flash of fire and emerald elegance.

Distribution: Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, South Sudan, DR Congo, Uganda, Kenya.

11. Red-bellied Malimbe (Malimbus erythrogaster)

This little Weaver cousin isn't on everyone's radar, but it explodes with color and chirpy enthusiasm like a feathered confetti cannon! Prepare for good vibes and happy chirps wherever the Red-bellied Malimbe lands.

Distribution: Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, DR Congo; Sudan, and Uganda

Green-headed Oriole photographed at Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique by Roger Hogg

 10. Green-headed Oriole (Oriolus chlorocephalus)

Move over, Robin Hood! These jolly green giants spread Christmas cheer from branch to branch with their festive emerald cloaks and caroling voices that would make Mariah Carey jealous. One carol at a time, they redistribute joy and good tunes through the rainforest.

Distribution: Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique

9. Bearded Barbet (Pogonornis dubius)

This punk-rock barbet rocks an electric hairdo of feathers and enough rainbow plumage to make a disco ball jealous. It's the coolest cousin at the holiday gathering, swaggering like Elvis Presley himself. I had to add the Bearded Barbet because it’s a feathered riot of color and attitude.

Distribution: Chad, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Central African Republic.


8. Western Wattled Cuckooshrike (Lobotos lobatus)

Picture a ballerina with the voice of a celestial choir. That's the Western Wattled Cuckooshrike, adding a touch of class and heavenly harmonies to your Christmas carols. It's like the angel on top of the tree, come to life and singing its heart out.

Distribution: Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Ghana.

Bar-tailed Trogon photographed at Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda by Richard Flack


7. Bar-tailed Trogon (Apaloderma vittatum)

This bird is a living Van Gogh painting, bursting with vibrant blues, greens, and reds. Imagine a kaleidoscope of color with a dramatic tail sweep, like the train on a Victorian Christmas gown. Nature's ultimate artist, the Bar-tailed Trogon is a feast for the eyes.

Distribution: Nigeria, Cameroon, Bioko, Angola, DR Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

6. Red-crested Turaco (Tauraco erythrolophus)

This feathered friend rocks the Christmas color scheme, but its party trick is booming calls that sound like karaoke night after one too many drinks. It's the life of the party, the Red-crested Turaco, singing off-key with infectious enthusiasm and making everyone laugh along.

Distribution: Angola


5. Gabon Coucal (Centropus anselli)

Forget jingle bells, this bird's got its own hypnotic melody that'll lull you into a holiday trance. It's nature's lullaby machine, the Gabon Coucal, with deep, soothing calls that whisper promises of cozy nights by the fireplace and sweet dreams of sugar plum fairies.

Distribution: Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola, and DR Congo.


4. Grey-Necked Rockfowl (Picathartes oreas)

This cliff-dwelling rockstar is the Indiana Jones of feathered friends, adding a touch of mystery to your holiday adventure. Imagine a daring adventurer scaling treacherous rocks and uncovering ancient secrets, all while looking impossibly cool with sleek grey plumage and piercing yellow eyes. Meet the Grey-Necked Rockfowl, the feathered adventurer.

Distribution: Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea including Bioko, Gabon, and Congo.


3. Green Breasted Pitta (Pitta reichenowi)

This is a bird that is definitely on my birding bucket list – a beautiful, elusive little bird, that I’m sure many birders want to see and take pictures of! Emerald feathers shimmer like dewdrops, a cheeky face peeks from the foliage, and its song sounds like the rustling of palm leaves in a gentle breeze. The Green Breasted Pitta whispers of hidden paradises.

Distribution: Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, DR Congo, and Uganda.


Northern Carmine Bee-eater photographed at Nunda River Lodge, Namibia by Decklan Jordaan

2. Northern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicus)

This is a bird that was seen this year at Nunda River Lodge, Namibia! Imagine the hummingbird on Red Bull – that's this bird! Zipping through the air like a living firework, it'll have you reaching for your sunglasses! Picture a blur of ruby feathers, a dazzling dance through the sunlight, and a chirpy chatter that sounds like holiday laughter echoing through the trees. Pure joy in motion, the Northern Carmine Bee-eater paints the sky with its fiery feathers.

Distribution: Senegal, Kenya, Somalia; and Tanzania.


African Emerald Cuckoo photographed by Mike Henshall

1. African Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx cupreus)

Imagine a living emerald jewel that sparkles with Christmas magic. This stunning bird radiates festive cheer with its shimmering green feathers that catch the light, like twinkling dewdrops on a tropical vine. Its melodic call, clear and sweet, sounds like angels carolling from the highest branches, filling the air with a sense of wonder and peace. With every flit through the forest, the African Emerald Cuckoo is a reminder that beauty and harmony are woven into the very fabric of the season, a feathered ambassador of goodwill and joy.

Distribution: Gambia, Senegal, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Angola, South Africa; and Gulf of Guinea islands.


Do you agree with this list? Which birds would you have had instead? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your ideas!

If you enjoyed this article, you will also enjoy the post "South Africa's 10 Best Birds" - read it here

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