13 COMMON Birds Found in Eritrea! (2024)

Are you trying to identify a bird found in Eritrea?

Types of birds in Eritrea

Some of the wildest and most colorful birds you could imagine are found here. From gigantic, flightless birds to colorful showstoppers, there’s something to catch everyone’s attention!

Due to the sheer number of species, there was no way to include every bird in Eritrea in this article. So instead, I tried to focus on the birds that are most regularly seen and observed.

13 COMMON types of birds in Eritrea!


#1. African Fish Eagle

  • Haliaeetus vocifer

Common Eritrea birds

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 63–75 cm (25–29.5 in) long with a wingspan of 2.0-2.4 m (6.6-7.9 ft).
  • Their brown bodies contrast with black wings and a white face, chest, and legs. Their beaks and feet are bright yellow.
  • This species’ long talons are barbed to aid in picking up fish.

As the most popular bird in Eritrea, this species is featured on flags of countries across the continent.

The African Fish Eagle symbolizes hope and freedom and is also known as the Screaming Eagle or the African Sea Eagle.

In addition to fish, they eat large birds, frogs, baby crocodiles, and carrion. They’re even known to eat monkeys! Typically, they perch on a branch, then dive down in a graceful swoop to grab their dinner. Additionally, they love to steal prey from other birds for an easy meal on the go.

The African Fish Eagle’s resoundingly clear call is sometimes known as The Spirit of Africa.

This remarkable bird is a habitat generalist, meaning it can live in most climates. Its only true requirement is a large body of water, like a lake or the ocean. So, other than the desert, you can expect to see this bird no matter where you are in Eritrea!


#2. African Grey Hornbill

  • Lophoceros nasutus

Common birds found in Eritrea

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 45–51 cm (18–20 in) long.
  • They are white, grey, and dusty brown. The wings have a scalloped pattern, and the dark grey head fades into white underparts.
  • The beak is prominent, strong, and hooked downward.

The first thing you’ll notice about the African Grey Hornbill is its large beak. They look somewhat top-heavy, but the bill has internal supports and hollow chambers that keep it fairly light. Nevertheless, its top two neck vertebrae are fused, probably for additional support.

African Grey Hornbills have the most unusual breeding habits of any bird in Eritrea!

The mother sheds all her flight feathers just before nesting time in preparation for the coming months. Then, the female encloses herself and the eggs inside with mud, poop, and fruit purée! The male brings food to the incubating mother and passes it through a tiny hole in the chamber wall. While she is incubating the eggs, she regrows her flight feathers.

Once the nestlings outgrow the hollow, she breaks out, reseals it, and then both parents feed the young through the small hole that remains. They probably deserve an award for their dedication to making more little African Grey Hornbills!


#3. African Paradise Flycatcher

  • Terpsiphone viridis

Birds of Eritrea

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 17 cm (6.7 in) long, but their tail streamers can double this length.
  • The coloring is typically black across the head, neck, and body, with chestnut wings and tail feathers. However, coloring is variable across subspecies. Its legs, beak, and rings around the eyes are blue.
    • In the light morph, the chestnut coloring is replaced with white.

The African Paradise Flycatcher confuses birders in Eritrea because its coloring is highly variable. Although the wings and tail feathers usually contrast with the head and body, everything else about these birds’ coloring depends on their location and environment.

Look for this species in dense, moist forests, bushlands, and plantations. It can even be seen in gardens or catching pest insects in orchards. When eating, they flutter their tail and use wing downbeats to hover in place. Their main food source is insects and spiders from the undersides of leaves.

The call of the African Paradise Flycatcher is as varied as its coloring but generally sounds like a shrill, loud “ahh-ahh.”


#4. African Sacred Ibis

  • Threskiornis aethiopicus

Types of birds in Eritrea

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 68 cm (27 in) long with a wingspan of 112-124 cm (44-49 in).
  • Their plumage is white overall, with black wing tips and tail feathers.
  • The head and legs are black and featherless, and the beak is very long and curved downward.

The Sacred Ibis was integral to ancient Egyptian religious ceremonies. Unfortunately, it’s now locally extinct in Egypt. However, it is still widespread in Eritrea.

Its long scythe-like beak cuts through vegetation in marshes, swamps, and along riverbanks. It pokes in the muddy bottoms of small water bodies as it forages and visits mud flats far inland in search of food. You may even see them in garbage dumps, pasturelands, and freshly plowed fields, looking for earthworms.

The African Sacred Ibis has a variety of sounds, from a call similar to a yappy dog to a long, loud honk. This call, a long chirping noise, is one of their most common.


#5. Common Hoopoe

  • Upupa epops

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 25–32 cm (9.8–12.6 in) long with a wingspan of 44–48 cm (17–19 in).
  • Its coloring is cinnamon-brown on the head and body, with black and white barred wings.
  • The head is adorned with a crest of brown feathers tipped in black.

Look for the Common Hoopoe in rural gardens, cities, plantations, savannas, and grasslands. They often spend time near piles of rotting leaves or a fallen log where insects, grubs, and worms will use it as a habitat. It’s like a buffet for the Hoopoe!

This unusual-looking bird has a variety of defensive tactics. Its movable crest is used for advertising and intimidating potential predators and rival Hoopoes. If that doesn’t work, this species is ready for a fight! They use their strong head and neck muscles to gouge their long, pointed beaks into opponents’ eyes, which can blind them.

In addition to their fighting skill and intimidating looks, they produce a substance that smells of rotting meat. They cover themselves and their eggs with the substance to warn away predators. Nestlings even have their own scent gland that makes them unappetizing to predators.


#6. Common Ostrich

  • Struthio camelus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults stand up to 2.8 meters (9 feet) tall and can weigh 154 kg (340 lbs).
  • Their plumage is dark on the body, with white wings and tail tips. Males are black, and females are brown.
  • The long legs and neck are buff to pinkish, sometimes with pale downy feathers. They have large feet with sharp talons and small heads.

The Common Ostrich is not only the largest bird in Eritrea but also worldwide!

But that’s not the only reason this giant species is remarkable. They can run at over 70 kph (43 mph), and their kick is powerful enough to kill a lion! Interestingly, all this athletic prowess is for survival only since Ostriches are predominantly herbivores. They eat the occasional lizard but prefer fruit, seeds, and grasses.

During the breeding season, they form harems of one male and between two and seven females. Then, they raise their young as a community. Each female can produce up to nine offspring, so this village is particularly important!

You might think Ostriches look practically prehistoric, and you’d be right! The lower parts of their legs are scaled for protection, as was typical for their dinosaur ancestors.


#7. Hamerkop

  • Scopus umbretta

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults stand about 56 cm (22 in) tall.
  • Brown all over, with a dark brown to black bill and legs.
  • This waterbird has an unusual crest, making its head appear elongated toward the back.

You might have seen pictures of the Hamerkop on its favorite perch – the back of a hippopotamus! This water bird likes to hunt from these living platforms, and the hippos don’t seem to mind.

An easy way to identify this bird in Eritrea is to look for its incredible nest. They build a huge nest (up to two meters tall) in a tree fork, with only a tiny side entrance. The same nest can be used for up to four years unless it is disturbed in some way, which happens more often than you might think.

They’re also rather noisy, cackling and yapping while they hunt and socialize.


#8. Helmeted Guinea Fowl

  • Numida meleagris

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 53-58 cm (21-23 in).
  • Their coloring is black with white spots. The legs are black, and the featherless head is bright blue with red on the face.
  • This species has a large, round body and a very small head and neck.

These chicken-like birds in Eritrea are capable of flight but only do so when in danger.

Instead, they walk up to 10 kilometers (6 miles) daily in their quest for food. They’ll eat anything from small mammals and lizards to worms, insects, frogs, small snakes, snails, seeds, fruit, and spiders.

Outside breeding season, they form flocks of up to 24 birds and roost communally so they can alert each other to predators. They have an explosive take-off and only flap for short distances, gliding for longer flights. They prefer to flee from predators on land and can run 35 kph (22 mph) on land.

Helmeted Guineafowl have various calls, and some are more pleasant than others. For example, their whistling tune is much nicer on the ears than the raucous and irritating one found here.


#9. Little Bee-Eater

  • Merops pusillus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 15–17 cm (6-7 in.) long.
  • They have a green back, a bright yellow throat, and a black collar. Their bellies are a deeper brownish-yellow.
  • This species is slender and upright, with a pointed black beak.

Little Bee-eaters are the smallest species of African bee-eater. These birds are quite tame and friendly. They make practically no sound except for a quietly trilled “s-s-e-e-e-p.”

As their name implies, these little birds subsist on hornets, wasps, and bees. But, they’ve found an efficient way to avoid being stung by their favorite foods. Before they eat them, they smash their prey’s stinger into a hard surface several times to extract it.

Look for groups of Little Bee-eaters lined up, roosting communally on a branch. These tight-knit communities spend time together year-round. For example, a non-breeding pair will help feed chicks and even sit on the eggs to help out. Some nesters can have as many as five helpers raising the nestlings.


#10. Northern Red-Billed Hornbill

  • Tockus erythrorhynchus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 50-60 cm (20-24 in) long.
  • These black, white, and gray birds have large, bright red beaks.
  • Their tails are long, and they are low to the ground when standing.

Look for Northern Red-billed Hornbills in dry forest habitats. They are ground foragers and omnivores, eating small animals, insects, fruits, and eggs. Although comfortable on the ground, they can also be seen soaring from tree to tree.

If this species looks familiar, it might be that you remember it from a movie! The Northern Red-billed Hornbill was the model for the character Zazu in The Lion King. I don’t think it takes much imagination to see the resemblance. 🙂


#11. Pied Crow

  • Corvus albus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 46-52 cm (18-20 in) long.
  • Their coloring is completely black, except for the stark white “vest” between their wings and across their chest.

If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between a crow and a raven, studying the Pied Crow is a good way to learn! This bird in Eritrea is considered a “link” between the two related families. It has the larger bill and long legs of a raven, as well as wider wings and a longer tail. However, its beak is small and straight like a crow’s, and it also has the typical “caw” call.

Pied Crows are often found near humans, but they don’t interact with people very much. They seem to like villages and towns, probably because of the abundance of food due to human refuse.

They are social and may congregate near an abundance of food but are generally found in pairs or small groups. Pied Crows eat reptiles and mammals, nestlings and eggs, insects and invertebrates, peanuts, grains, carrion, and human trash. If there is a slaughterhouse in the vicinity, you’ll almost certainly find them there, too.


#12. Speckled Pigeon

  • Columba guinea

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 41 cm (16 in) long.
  • Their coloring is slate gray overall, with rusty wings and white tips on the flight feathers.
  • They have a ring of red skin around the eye, giving them a wide-eyed look.

It’s not uncommon for hundreds of Speckled Pigeons to form a flock and inhabit the exterior of large human structures. They’re the primary food source for birds of prey that live in large cities.

Although their shape and behavior are similar to typical urban rock pigeons, Speckled Pigeons are much larger. This species is the largest pigeon in Eritrea at nearly 41 cm (16 inches) long.

Even if the Speckled Pigeon’s call is understated and melodic, it can be overwhelming when hundreds are singing at once. It sounds like “OooOOOuu” repeated a dozen times or more in a row.


#13. Village Weaver

  • Ploceus cucullatus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 15–17 cm (6-7 in) long.
  • Males have a black face with a bright red eye, a bright yellow chest, a brown cowl down the back of the head, and splotchy black and yellow wings.
  • Females are largely yellow (including the head), with pale olive stripes on the upper parts and buff-yellow chest and underparts.

The Village Weaver has some of the most interesting nesting habits of any bird in Eritrea.

For one, the nests themselves look like Christmas ornaments! They’re woven balls of grass and feathers that hang from the branches of trees. Additionally, male Village Weavers build the nests alone and defend them to attract a mate. Think of this as showing off your big, new house to your date!

Once a female chooses a nest (and a mate), she fills it with bedding and lays her eggs. Then, the male finds another mate and begins the process again! Despite having up to five broods at a time, the male Village Weaver contributes to the feeding and care of all his hatchlings.

These communal birds can be quite noisy, as they spend most of their time in their nests calling to one another.


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Which of these birds in Eritrea have you seen before?

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