Interesting birds for casual birders
You just have to stand and gawp in admiration at the work of sociable weavers. No larger than sparrows, these birds work together to create nests weighing over a ton. Thanks to these nests, sociable weavers easily survive icy winters and scorching summers.
These tiny, chestnut-jacketed birds hawk and hunt insects within the canopy of trees, and have something fairy-like about them. It's especially lovely to see them on the nest, especially when the male’s long tail dangles below this spider-web and bark confection.
These rather stately birds are thought to be the heaviest flying birds in the world. Not that you’d notice, because they would rather bark like dogs and run away than take to the air. But their mating displays more than compensate for any flight shortcomings.
4Ostriches in the wild
You’ll often see wild ostriches in South African game parks and reserves, where they lead a far more interesting life than their more sedate farmed brethren. If you see a mating display you’ll suddenly be transported to a Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris.
5African black oystercatchers
These colourful birds harvest limpets, whelks, sundry worms and mussels from the edge of the sea. Usually working in pairs, they advance and retreat before the oncoming waves, somehow contriving to get barely a feather wet.
It’s for good reason that the Afrikaans name for these birds translates as ‘crazy geese’. With their piercing blue eyes, ungainly take-offs and landings, and strange body language, they certainly qualify as mildly insane. But wait till you see them in the air...
If you ever look up to see two large birds flying in formation over mountains, it’s more than likely that you’ve just spotted Verreaux’s eagles, more than likely hunting for their favourite prey – dassies or rock hyraxes. But will their tricks of divide and rule work this time?
These creamy-coloured vultures are the heaviest in their flight class. Not surprisingly, they’re also the fastest eaters when the chips are down. Still, they have some charming habits and characteristics. They even smell sweet. Mostly.
If there’s a bird you are practically guaranteed to see, it’s a pied crow. They happily live in cities, along major roads and practically anywhere else. You’ll also seldom encounter a bird quite so clever as this, and with such a range of sounds.
These charming, dove-sized birds used to occur in numbers so large they’d darken the skies. You can still see many hundreds of them around a waterhole in South Africa's drier areas when they come to drink each day. Look for the males soaking up water for their chicks back home.