Most people look for large mammals in the African savanna, but the songbird life is equally impressive. Many of the species are simply beautiful to look at, with stunningly colourful groups such as starlings and sunbirds.
Laniarius major, 'Tropical Boubou'.
Puffbacks are so called because during courtship, the males fluff up a hump of lighter fluffy feathers on their lower back.
Dryoscopus cubla, 'Black-backed Puffback'. Found in various habitats in eastern and southern Africa.
Prinia subflava, 'Tawny-flanked Prinia'.
Zosterops virens, 'Cape White-eye'.
Babblers often hang out in noisy 'gangs'.
'Arrow-marked Babbler' Turdoides. The bright-eyed adult on the left, the darker eyed juvenile on the right.
There are lots of birds that will perch on larger mammals, but there is one group that specialises in it: the 'Oxpeckers'. They feed mostly on ticks, which is handy for the host mammal, as these tiny arachnids are ectoparasites. It has long been assumed Oxpeckers and their mammal rides were a good example of mutualism, where both species in the relationship benefited; but it is now considered a parasitic relationship; the birds usually eat the tick after they have fed on the mammal (when they are fat and full of nutritous yummy blood), and studies have shown no correlation between the presence of Oxpeckers and less ectoparasites. Additionally, the birds have been observed eating into the wounds of their host animals. The ultimate hanger-on-ers. However, there have been observations of Oxpeckers giving warnings to their Rhino rides when predatory humans are approaching.
Buphagus africanus, 'Yellow-billed Oxpecker'.
One of the most stunning groups of birds in the African bush. Luckily, many of these starlings are easily seen around lodges and camps.
Lamprotornis corruscus, 'Ruppell's Long-tailed Starling'. Large and striking. Common and seems comfortable near roads and lodges.
Cinnyricinclus leucogaster, 'Violet-backed Starling', (Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, South Africa).
Lamprotornis regius, 'Golden-breasted/Royal Starling'. Long tail. Found in open habitats in eastern and north-eastern Africa.
Cossypha heuglini, 'White-browed Robin-chat'. Found in thicket and riverine habitats in wetter woodlands, including gardens, in wider eastern Africa.
Nectarinia kilimensis, 'Bronze Sunbird' (Isunga Lodge, Uganda).
Cinnyris venusta, 'Variable Sunbird' (Isunga Lodge, Uganda).
Chalcomitra senegalensis, 'Scarlet-chested Sunbird' (Kilwa, Tanzania).
The breeding males of Widowbirds have long black tails.
Euplectes ardens, 'Red-collared Widowbird' (Enjojo Lodge, Uganda).
Euplectes albonotatus, 'White-winged Widowbird' ( (Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, South Africa).
Vidua macroura, 'Pin-tailed Wydah' (Isunga Lodge, Uganda).
Quelea Quelea, 'Red-billed Quelea'. Usually seen in large flocks, and often claimed to be the most numerous bird in the world.
Uraeginthus bengalus , 'Red-cheeked Cordonbleu'. Small bright blue bird, with males having maroon patch on face. Found in open habitats, including around human habitats, across tropical western and eastern Africa.
Lagonosticta senegala, 'Red-billed Firefinch'.
Passer griseus, 'Northern Grey-headed Sparrow' (Isunga Lodge, Uganda).