39 COMMON Birds Found in Ethiopia! (2023)

Are you trying to identify a bird found in Ethiopia?

Types of birds in Ethiopia

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

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

39 COMMON types of birds in Ethiopia!


#1. Abyssinian Roller

  • Coracias abyssinicus

Common Ethiopia birds

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 28–30 cm (11–12 in) long.
  • The butterscotch brown back and face contrast sharply with its otherwise brilliant blue plumage.
  • They have two unusually long tail feathers that look like streamers in flight.

 

The Abyssinian Roller is an unmistakably beautiful bird in Ethiopia!

However, its appearance is just one of its many incredible traits. For example, check out their attack pattern, which is how they earned their name. They tumble and roll as they try to catch escaping prey.

Abyssinian Rollers fly through forests decimated by fire, looking for disturbed rodents, snakes, invertebrates, and reptiles to hunt. They’re also aggressive at defending their territory. They juke and somersault, dive-bombing humans or other threats.

 

Although unrelated to corvids, these flashy birds make a crow-like sound of “GawwwK” or a screechy “Arrrg.These mimicking sounds are deliberately intimidating, and this fearless species has the personality to back them up. LISTEN BELOW!

 


#2. African Fish Eagle

  • Haliaeetus vocifer

Common birds found in Ethiopia

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 Ethiopia, 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 Ethiopia!

 


#3. African Grey Hornbill

  • Lophoceros nasutus

Birds of Ethiopia

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 Ethiopia!

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!

 


#4. African Paradise Flycatcher

  • Terpsiphone viridis

Types of birds in Ethiopia

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 Ethiopia 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.”

 


#5. African Sacred Ibis

  • Threskiornis aethiopicus

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 Ethiopia.

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.

 


#6. Beautiful Sunbird

  • Cinnyris pulchellus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 10 cm (4 in) long.
  • Males are black on the face and belly, with metallic green on the head, back, and underparts. The chest is a vibrant red, bordered with bright yellow.
  • Females are brown, with yellow-brown underparts.

 

These colorful, flashy birds in Ethiopia feed primarily on nectar, like the hummingbirds of the western hemisphere. They like to feed upside down, hanging from a branch to get to inverted flowers. This position can make them look a little like a traffic light. Beautiful Sunbirds have a tubular tongue with a brush-like tip to aid in nectar collection.

Hotel proprietors often plant their preferred flowers to attract them to entertain visitors. Their vivid coloring and vocal nature make them a true joy to watch!

 

The Beautiful Sunbird’s song is a chu-chu-chu repeated in triplets or irregular groups and at irregular intervals.

 


#7. 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.

 


#8. 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 Ethiopia 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.

 


#9. Hadada Ibis

  • Bostrychia hagedash

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 76 cm (30 in) long.
  • They are grey overall, with a wash of iridescent green and purple on the wings. The top of the beak and feet are red during the breeding season.
  • The beak is long and slightly curved; aside from that, this species has a shape similar to a duck.

 

Despite its large and relatively round shape, the Hadada Ibis spends much of its time in trees! This species roosts and nests in branches, which can be particularly dangerous for their young. Nestlings frequently fall to their death because the platform is built in a high fork of a tree, and it is flat, with no protective lip to keep the young inside.

Although it’s comfortable in trees, the Hadada Ibis forages for food on the ground. They feed on multitudes of insects and larvae, which is a boon to those who work outside.

 

For example, gardeners appreciate their visits since they eat snails and don’t damage the plants. Greenskeepers like them too, because they remove moth and beetle larvae that eat the roots of grasses. They also dig up earthworms with their long curved beak.

 

Its name derives from the sound of its loud call.

 


#10. 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 Ethiopia 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.

 


#11. 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 Ethiopia 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.

 


#12. Hooded Vulture

  • Necrosyrtes monachus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 62–72 cm (24–28 in) long with a wingspan of 155–180 cm (61–71 in).
  • Their plumage is a uniform brown, with a featherless pinkish-white face and a grey-brown “hood” of short feathers.
  • This large vulture has an upright posture, large body, and small head, which are typical of its kind.

 

The Hooded Vulture is more mild-mannered than most other scavengers in Ethiopia.

As a result, it’s developed skills to make sure they can eat before more aggressive vultures chase it off from a carcass. It often arrives first, takes a small meal, and moves on, eating more frequently and in smaller portions.

Another way this species has adapted is to start visiting slaughterhouses and garbage dumps. Here, they take advantage of easy meals. The clever part is that the bigger, more aggressive vultures are not comfortable around humans, so Hooded Vultures avoid conflict.

 

Despite finding ways to adapt and survive, Hooded Vultures are still considered critically endangered. Often, when poachers kill big game, they remove the valuable parts and then poison the carcass with pesticides. These toxins kill any vultures that come to feed, so rangers won’t see vultures circling the carcasses, and the criminals have more time to get away.

 


#13. Lesser Flamingo

  • Phoeniconaias minor

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults stand 80-90 cm (31-35 in) with a wingspan of 90-105 cm (35-41 in).
  • Pinkish-white plumage, with bright pink legs and eye rings.
  • These recognizable birds stand tall on very thin legs and have long, curved necks.

 

This fascinating species is impossible to confuse with any other bird in Ethiopia!

Have you ever wondered why Flamingos are pink? Interestingly, their primary food source is Spirulina algae, which contains photosynthetic pigments that turn the birds pink.

Unfortunately, their bright coloring and relatively large size make them a target for many predators. Common culprits are big cats, eagles, pelicans, foxes, jackals, hyenas, vultures, and baboons. To protect themselves and their young, they form gigantic flocks called crèches. Here, babies can number up to 100,000 individuals watched over by several adults.

 

Lesser Flamingos are among the most successful species in their family, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in trouble. On the international scale, they are listed as “Near Threatened” because of habitat loss, human land development, limited breeding sites, and heavy metal poisoning in some lakes.

 


#14. Lilac-Breasted Roller

  • Coracias caudatus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 36-38 cm (14-15 in) long, with a wingspan of 50-58 cm (19-23 in).
  • The coloring of this species is lilac on the chest with bright teal and royal blue on the head, body, and wings.
  • This species’ head is large for its body.

 

The Lilac-breasted Roller has an aggressive attitude, particularly when defending its nest. It will ascend 144 meters (472 feet) to dive bomb much larger raptors. And it will juke and roll to attack other intruders.

They are primarily insectivores, but they also eat scorpions, snails, lizards, rodents, and even other birds. They use their wings to batter prey into submission, then eat it whole.

 

Lilac-breasted Rollers make a remarkably loud and frightening sound as it plummets from the sky to attack.

 


#15. 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.

 


#16. Marabou Stork

  • Leptoptilos crumenifer

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach heights of 152 cm (5 feet) and have a wingspan of 3.7 m (12 ft).
  • Its back and wings are black, with a white underside and bald, pinkish-white head and neck.
  • This species is very large, with a pelican-like shape, huge bill, and long legs.

 

The Marabou Stork is the largest carrion bird in Ethiopia!

This gigantic species stands taller than some adult humans and has an incredibly large wingspan.

Look for these birds, also called “Undertaker Birds”, circling above carcasses or garbage dumps. They fly with their neck retracted but keep their feet out, using them as a steering rudder. They occasionally take live prey, including flamingo chicks and crocodile hatchlings.

 


#17. 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. 🙂

 


#18. 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 Ethiopia 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.

 


#19. Pied Kingfisher

  • Ceryle rudis

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow to 25 cm (10 in) long.
  • Their coloring is white, with small black spots on the face, head, wings, tail, and shoulders.
  • This species has an extremely long and sharp beak.

 

Pied Kingfishers are the largest hovering bird in Ethiopia.

They often hover over a body of water, hunting until they spot a likely victim. Then, they drop vertically into the water, grab their prey, and leap out again. In addition, they often eat small prey in flight, allowing them to hunt small insects continuously without the need to return to shore.

 

Compared with other kingfishers, this species is gregarious and friendly. They often roost together in large groups at night. Pied Kingfishers are nearly always found close to large bodies of water.

 


#20. Pin-Tailed Whydah

  • Vidua macroura

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 12–13 cm (4-5 in) long, but males have exceptionally long tails – up to 20 cm (8 in)!
  • Males are black on the back, head, and wings, with a white belly and throat.
  • Females are light brown with black streaks.
  • Both sexes have a short, conical, red-orange beak.

 

Look for Pin-tailed Whydahs in grassland habitats. It’s a common bird in Ethiopia south of the Sahara.

 

 

This species is considered a brood parasite, meaning the female lays her eggs in the nest of other species. Then, once the eggs hatch, the mother takes care of the Pin-tailed Whydah hatchlings along with her own.

 

Unlike some other brood parasites, the Pin-Tailed Whydah doesn’t destroy the host bird’s eggs, which means other species can still thrive alongside it.

 


#21. Red-Throated Bee Eater

  • Merops bulocki

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 20-22 cm (8-9 in) long.
  • These birds have a distinct color pattern: green on the wings and head, rusty brown on the belly, with a red throat and deep blue under the tail.
  • They have a black streak over the eyes and a long, pointed beak.

 

Red-throated Bee Eaters are a communal species, nesting in colonies all year round. Like other bee-eaters, they dig a tunnel in a sandy or muddy bank early in the season before the soil dries and solidifies. To create the tunnel, these birds dig with both feet, throwing material behind them like a dog.

They eat small bees, stingless bees, grasshoppers, flying ants, and locusts. To catch a meal, the Red-throated Bee Eater watches from a perch and then plucks an insect out of the air, gobbling it up as it flies.

 

Their sound is rather penetrating and can be quite startling if you’re not expecting it. Of course, such a tiny bird is not expected to be that loud.

 


#22. Secretarybird

  • Sagittarius serpentarius

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow as tall as 1.3 m (4 ft 3 in).
  • Their coloring is pale gray on the head and top half of the body, with black flight feathers. They have black feathers that stick out on the back of the head.
  • This species has red skin on the face around the eyes and beak. The beak is pale and sharply hooked.

 

The Secretarybird in Ethiopia gets its name from the quill-like feathers on the back of its head.

 

This large bird hunts on the ground, but it has a fascinating way of grabbing a meal. Its neck isn’t flexible or long enough to reach the ground quickly. So, when they find their prey, they stomp on it until it stops moving! Then, they kneel on their long legs to pick it up and eat once it’s incapacitated.

They’ll happily consume large insects, crabs, mammals, lizards, tortoises, smaller birds, and snakes, including VENOMOUS species. Interestingly, they’re known to search the ground after a forest fire and eat cooked meat.

 


#23. 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 Ethiopia 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.

 


#24. 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 Ethiopia.

 

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.

 


#25. White-backed Vulture

  • Gyps africanus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 78-98 cm (31-39 in) long and have a 1.96-2.25 m (6-7 ft) wingspan.
  • Its coloring is muted brown, except for its off-white back. The face and wings are darker brown than the body.
  • This species has a bald face and short, downy feathers on the head and neck.

 

This species has seen the most rapid decline of any bird in Ethiopia.

Its conservation status has gone from Least Concern to Critically Endangered in just fifteen years. Power lines, poisoned carrion, pesticides, and poaching are also contributing factors.

Part of the reason for their decline is that White-backed Vultures are very tame and will happily wander into town to look for food. Unfortunately, it’s vulnerable to kidney failure due to poisoning from diclofenac, a drug widely used by humans for pain, inflammation, arthritis, and gout.

 

In addition to diclofenac poisoning, fires have recently eliminated much of their breeding territory, adding to the decline. Their extremely long breeding cycle is another strain on their population. White-backed Vultures have to incubate their eggs for two months and care for nestlings for four to five months.

 


#26. White-Throated Bee Eater

  • Merops albicollis

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 19–21 cm (7.5-8.5 in) long, with males gaining an additional 12 cm (5 in) from their tail streamers.
  • Look for this species’ white throat and white eyebrow on either side of its black eye stripe to differentiate it from other Bee Eaters.
  • Their coloring is bright green to white on the belly with a pale blue rump, a black collar underlined in turquoise, and bright yellow-orange on the back of the head.

 

White-throated Bee Eaters congregate in large groups, which protects them from predators. They also raise their young communally, sharing the duties of protecting nests and bringing food to nestlings.

Like others of their family, White-throated Bee Eaters eat hornets, wasps, and bees, catching them in mid-flight by leaping from a low perch. Before they eat them, however, they remove their prey’s stinger by jamming it into a hard surface several times to extract it. That’s a straightforward way to make sure your meal is safe to eat!

 

This species has a dry, high-pitched, rattling call.

 


#27. Woodland Kingfisher

  • Halcyon senegalensis

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow to 23 cm (9.1 in) long.
  • Its wings and back are electric blue, with black patches on the wings and a white chest and neck.
  • This species’ beak is large for its body, brilliant orange on top and black below.

 

The really interesting thing about kingfishers is you can instantly tell whether they live on fish or insects by the color of their beaks! As with the Woodland Kingfisher, orange beaks indicate an insect diet, and other colors like black or blue mean a fish-heavy diet.

Woodland Kingfishers are unusual because they can mimic other birds with the way they stand. When they squat and puff out their feathers, they tend to look like a sparrow, and if they stand taller, they are more like a robin. Females stand up tall more often to advertise to a potential mate. They also spread their wings wide to appear as large and colorful as possible.

 

The sound of their song is usually one sharp note, a pause, then about 20 trills of a descending note.


#28. Common Chiffchaff

  • Phylloscopus collybita

Common Ethiopia birds

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 10–12 cm (3.9–4.7 in) long.
  • Their coloring is green-tinged brown on the body and brown on the head, with a light line above the eyes.

Common Chiffchaffs are passerine birds, meaning they perch in trees or bushes. You can often spot them standing on just one leg as they sing and chirrup. Most bird watchers consider this species a member of the LBJs, or “Little Brown Jobs”. In ornithological slang, LBJ refers to any bird that is difficult to distinguish from other birds that look essentially the same.

These small warblers eat mostly insects, including eggs and larvae from moths and butterflies. The most common predator of the Common Chiffchaff are domestic cats. Other predators like hawks, weasels, ferrets, and minks don’t make a serious dent in their numbers.

Despite its name being supposedly modeled after its voice, the Common Chiffchaff’s call sounds more like a high, clear “hee-hee.”


#29. Laughing Dove

  • Spilopelia senegalensis

Common birds found in Ethiopia

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 25 cm (10 in) long.
  • Their coloring is pinkish on the bottom with a lilac-colored head and neck, black eyes, and gray bills.
  • Some rufous dots over a largely dark brown chest give it the appearance of wearing a fancy necklace.

Endemic to Ethiopia, the Laughing Dove is a small pigeon with a long tail. It spends most of its time walking along the ground, looking for food.

Laughing Doves are highly territorial and mate for life; otherwise, they are solitary. Look for them in dry areas, savannahs with trees, acacia thickets, and similar environments. Their range is also spreading to more urban areas as they adapt to the presence of humans.

The nest of the Laughing Dove is a rough pile of sticks, stems, and roots. Typically, the male dove gathers the materials, and then the female arranges them. However, sometimes they reuse another bird’s nest, even one of a different species.

Their distinctive sounds make Laughing Doves easy to differentiate from other doves and pigeons.


#30. Crested Lark

  • Galerida cristata

Birds of Ethiopia

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 17 cm (7 in) tall with a wingspan of 29-38 cm (11-15 in).
  • Their coloring is pale tan overall, with dark brown streaks on the head, back, and wings.
  • This species has a crest on the head that sets it apart from other larks.

The Crested Lark has 33 subspecies, the most of any bird in Ethiopia.

Their names are as varied as their locations, including the North-west Moroccan crested lark, the West Moroccan crested lark, the North Algerian crested lark, the North-east Algerian crested lark, the Northern Nile Valley crested lark, and the Southern Nile Valley crested lark. It seems as if everyone wants to have their own local Crested Lark version! 🙂

Most of their diet is plant material, but they will occasionally eat beetles and insects, and they certainly don’t mind stealing some farmed grains or seeds. In fact, Crested Larks prefer dry, open land areas, such as fields of cereal grains or roadsides. But, oddly enough, it’s also found near human structures and commercial industry locations such as docks, railways, and airports, favoring sandy patches of ground.

The songs of a Crested Lark are varied and complex, from gargling and warbling trills to mimicry of other birds.


#31. Northern Wheatear

  • Oenanthe oenanthe

Species of birds in Ethiopia

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 14.5–16 cm (5.7–6.3 in) long.
  • Males are grayish-white over most of their bodies, with a rufous chin and a black stripe over the eye. Their wings are predominantly black.
  • Females are mostly rufous, with a brownish back and darker brown wings.

This tiny bird has an impressive travel itinerary!

Every year during migration, the Northern Wheatear makes a record-setting journey, crossing deserts, ice fields, and oceans. The Northern Wheatear spends its winters in the sub-Saharan region of Africa, then travels across the Northern Hemisphere to its remote breeding locations in Asia, Europe, Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. Once autumn rolls around, they again take to the sky and head back to Africa.

Northern Wheatears are about as large as House Sparrows, and no other bird of its size has a comparably long migration route. The total distance covered is 30,000 kilometers (18,641 miles)!

This species’ alarm call is a “chuck-chuk-chuk-TWEE” repeated continuously. On the other hand, their song is an ever-changing mix of warbles, tweets, and chirrups.


#32. Eurasian Kestrel

  • Falco tinnunculus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 32–39 cm (12.515.5 in) long with a wingspan of 65–82 cm (25.532.5 in).
  • Their coloring is ruddy brown and black, often with a checkerboard pattern on the back and wings.
  • Males have a slate-blue head and white chin.
  • Both sexes have bright yellow legs and eye-rings and large black eyes.

This bird of prey in Ethiopia is a member of the falcon family.

The Eurasian Kestrel uses three distinct hunting techniques. First is the hover approach, where they face the wind and float in the air, using their keen eyesight to spot prey. Second is the ridge flight, using updrafts to provide lift as they coast along effortlessly, which helps them cover a lot of territory with very little effort.

The third hunting technique conserves even more energy. They post themselves on an overhanging tree limb and survey the immediate vicinity. Then, they perform a steeply-pitched dive when they spot prey, grabbing it from the ground. Their diet is almost exclusively voles, mice, and shrews.

Eurasian Kestrels are very vocal in flight, and their call is a “chit-chit-chit” sound.


#33. Little Egret

  • Egretta garzetta

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 55–65 cm (22–26 in) long with an 88–106 cm (35–42 in) wingspan.
  • They are white with black bills and legs and yellow eyes and feet.
  • Their necks have a strong “S” curve and a thin tuft of long feathers on the head.

These aquatic birds in Ethiopia are almost always found near water.

Look for Little Egrets along coastlines and larger inland waterways like lakes and rivers. They catch fish, crustaceans, and insects directly from the water while standing in the shallows or flying over the surface.

The population of the Little Egret has been threatened by overhunting not once but twice throughout history. First, during the Middle Ages, this species was hunted for food to near extinction. Then in the late 1800s, Little Egrets were threatened once more by overhunting for their feathers.

Luckily, they have since been protected by conservation laws and are now considered a species of least concern. It’s got to be persistent to have survived all that!


#34. Barn Swallow

  • Hirundo rustica

barn swallow pic

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Small bird with a flat head, thin bill, pointed wings, thick neck, and fork-like tail.
  • Both sexes are similar – striking royal blue back, rusty brown underparts, with a rufous colored forehead and throat. White spots on the tail are typically visible during flight.

These birds are typically found in Ethiopia in open fields, meadows, pond marshes, or coastal waters.

Barn Swallows prefer to eat larger insects rather than eating groups of smaller ones. They primarily feed close to water or the ground catching insects in midair. This bird doesn’t typically ever come to bird feeders. But you may get lucky if you leave out eggshells or oyster shells on a platform feeder. These foods aid in their digestion.

One interesting fact about Barn Swallows is sometimes an unmated male will kill young birds in a nest to break up the parenting Barn Swallow couple. Then the unmated male gets together with the female. Talk about a complicated love triangle! 🙂

Both males and females sing a song of warbling notes and mechanical sounds. Listen below.

 


#35. Black Kite

  • Milvus migrans

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 48-60 cm (19-24 in) long with a wingspan of about 150 cm (59 in).
  • Their coloring is dark brown to brownish red, with a white face.
  • The legs are yellow, and the hooked beak is black with yellow at the base.

Although its name suggests a mostly black colored species, the Black Kite is generally dark brown to reddish. It’s easy to mistake this bird in Ethiopia for other birds of prey, so look closely when identifying!

Black Kites are graceful fliers, soaring over water and open land. They’re adept at catching their prey but will also occasionally eat carrion (road-kill). This species can hunt on the ground and from the air, in addition to visiting garbage dumps looking for edible trash.

This species has a lonely, whistling call that might remind you of a Red-tailed Hawk.


#36. House Sparrow

house sparrow

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males have gray crowns, black bibs, white cheeks, and chestnut on the sides of their faces and neck. Their backs are predominantly brown with black streaks.
  • Females are a dull brown color with streaks of black on their backs. Their underparts are light brown. They can be distinguished by the tan line that extends behind their eye.

House Sparrows are native to Ethiopia but are now one of the world’s most abundant and widespread birds!

In most urban and suburban areas, it’s INCREDIBLY COMMON to see House Sparrows. They owe their success to their ability to adapt and live near humans. Unlike most other birds, they love grains and are commonly seen eating bread and popcorn at amusement parks, sporting events, etc. At your bird feeders, they especially love eating cracked corn, millet, and milo.

House Sparrows can be heard across the entire planet. In fact, pay attention the next time you’re watching the news in another Ethiopia. Listen for a simple song that includes lots of “cheep” notes.


#37. Rock Pigeon

  • Columba livia

kinds of pigeons in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A plump bird with a small head, short legs, and a thin bill.
  • The typical pigeon has a gray back, a blue-grey head, and two black wing bars. But their plumage is highly variable, and it’s common to see varieties ranging from all-white to rusty brown.

Rock Pigeons are extremely common birds in Ethiopia but are almost exclusively found in urban areas.

These birds are what everyone refers to as “pigeons.” You have probably seen them gathering in huge flocks in city parks, hoping to get some birdseed or leftover food tossed their way.

Love them or hate them, Rock Pigeons have been associated with humans for a long time! Some Egyptian hieroglyphics suggest that people started domesticating them over 5,000 years ago. And because of these facts, scientists aren’t even sure where their original range was.

These birds are easy to identify by sound. My guess is that you will already recognize their soft, throaty coos. (Press PLAY below)


#38. White Wagtail

  • Motacilla alba

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 16.5-19 cm (6.4-7.4 in) long.
  • Their coloring is black, white, and dull gray. Their white face and black throat are the most noticeable features.
  • This species has long legs, a puffed chest, and a rounded head.

White Wagtails are common across Eurasia, but incredibly, this little guy sometimes ventures all the way to western Alaska for nesting.

This species falls victim to the Common Cuckoo, a brood parasite that lays its eggs in the host’s nest. Usually, a host bird is forced to care for the cuckoo chick, but not White Wagtails. Since they are too small to destroy the eggs, they often abandon an invaded nest and start over.

The White Wagtail got its name from the way it forages along the water’s edge, wagging its tail, looking for insects. They mostly hunt on land but will pursue prey in the air occasionally. Sometimes they wade in shallows or walk atop floating masses of vegetation while on the hunt. Likely prey includes crane flies, midges, mayflies, and aquatic larvae.

Its call is an extremely short and fast pair of high-pitched “chirrups.”


#39. White Stork

  • Ciconia ciconia

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 100–115 cm (39–45 in) tall with a wingspan of 155–215 cm (61–85 in).
  • They are white overall with black wing edges and red legs and bills.

Look for White Storks in open, grassy meadows in Ethiopia.

Interestingly, White Storks avoid traveling over water during migration and instead migrate over land, even when it’s a less direct route. This is because they’re a soaring species, and they need to stay over land to take advantage of air currents that help them glide.

You’ve probably heard the tale that storks bring babies to parents-to-be. It’s amazing how far back in history this legend goes! As long ago as during the empire of Ancient Rome, storks were seen as parental figures and good omens to families. A Hans Christian Andersen story called “The Storks” from the 19th century popularized the idea of baby delivery. 🙂

 


Do you need help identifying birds in Africa?

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Which of these birds in Ethiopia have you seen before?

 

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Check out these guides to other animals found in Ethiopia!

 

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