Even though Africa has seen massive growth in human population, widespread habitat degradation and loss of biodiversity, Senegal and Gambia still hold a remarkable and diverse birdlife. These two countries often collectively referred to as Senegambia have a combined bird species list of 668 species.
Fathala Wildlife Reserve is a hotspot for this spectacular birdlife, and because there are too many species to list, we chose the most common bird species that can be seen at Fathala Wildlife Reserve.
Palm Nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis
Identified by black and white plumage, with a bare reddish-pink face. Often seen near water, they eat nuts of oil and Raphia palms, but also feed on various small animals (fish, amphibians and crabs). They are usually a silent bird, and is quite approachable, like many African vultures, and can be seen near habitation, even on large hotel lawns in the tourist areas.
Helmeted Guineafowl Numida Meleagris
The best known of the guineafowl bird family. The helmeted guineafowl is quite a large bird, with a round body and small head. (Weighing in at about 1.3kg)The body plumage is grey-black spotted with white Their head is un-feathered with a reddish bony knob. They have short winged and a short tail. They are normally in flocks of 10-40, and forages on the ground in open areas.
Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri
Even though both sexes have the distinct green colour, only the adult male has the black ring around its neck. This is a noisy species with an unmistakable squawking call. Rose-ringed parakeets are herbivores, and usually eat buds, fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, and seeds. They do not keep one mate for life and often breed with a different partner every breeding season.
Senegal Coucal Centropus senegalensis
The most common Coucal, a member of the cuckoo order of birds. The Senegal Coucal are a medium-sized species. Its head, neck, bill, legs and long tail are black. The eyes are red and wings light brown in colour. The underpart is a creamy white. The sexes are similar, but the younger ones are a darker brown.
Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis
Common wet season breeding visitor. Mainly found perching on high branches, often exposed, vantage point, hunting insects and small vertebrae. These birds flick there wings open while singing, revealing contrasting underwing pattern. They are known to be quite aggressive with other birds.
Little Bee-eater Merops pusillus
Smallest bee-eater, quite a colourful bird with a grass green head, yellow throat, black mask around the eyes and light brown chest. They are most seen in pairs or family groups. Bee-eaters are slender species with long, pointed, slightly decurved bills and triangular wings. Feed mainly on wasps and bees. Hence the name.
Abyssinian Roller Coracias abyssinicus
Very brightly coloured bird, mainly bright turquoise blue with a brown mantle and deep violet wings. They are very noisy and visible birds – they like to perch on exposed vantage point. They are mainly seen alone or in pairs. They are also known as the Senegal Roller.
Grey Woodpecker Dendropicos goertae
Quite a large woodpecker with a pinpointing grey head. They are a fairly common bird in various types of woodlands and forests, they forage at all levels and eat only insects. They have a long tongue that is darted forward to capture insects.
Long-tailed Glossy Starling Lamprotornis caudatus
Easiest way to identify these birds are from their very long, strongly graduated, supple tail. They live in lively and vocal flocks and forage on the ground, and their diets mainly consists on fruits and insects. This bird is sociable and noisy, with a harsh strident call.
Yellow-billed Oxpecker Buphagus africanus
The bird you always see perched on herbivores, eating the small insects off their skins. A slender brown bird with orange eyes. They are usually seen in small groups and have a hard rasping and hissing sound. Even though the yellow-billed oxpecker eats insects and ticks their preferred food is blood, and while they take ticks bloated with blood, they also feed on it directly. They also peck at the mammal’s wounds until blood flows. These mammals generally tolerate oxpeckers.