The 1188 species of birds living in the Congo constitute one of the world’s most diverse bird communities. Of these, fourteen are endemic and have no known counterparts in other parts of Africa.
Learn about the birds of Congo, including Cuckooshrikes and African warblers. Read on to discover the many ways to get closer to these beautiful creatures. You might even be able to spot a few yourself!
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1188 bird species
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to the largest collection of cisticolas (small passerine birds) in the world.
These birds are small, streamlined, and feed primarily on nectar. They often take insects for food, but they are also fast fliers and usually perch for feeding or hovering to capture nectar. There are 1188 species of cisticolas, the largest number of any country on Earth.
There are approximately 1188 bird species in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including seven endemic species and three rare species. Of these, three are endemic and two are globally threatened.
The avian fauna in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has some of the highest species counts of any African country, and several of its birds are endemic. Notable endemic species include the Congo Peacock, the Lake Lufira weaver, and Schouteden’s swift.
There are also a number of other interesting Congolese birds. Mbulu are known locally as guinea pigeons and peafowl. They are 70 centimeters long, and the male has a bronze-green upper body and black under parts.
The female has a white breast and gray feet. Mbulu pairs duet and have one female per molar. Mbulu are migratory birds and live in the dense forests and mountain ranges of the Congo.
14 Endemic Species
In August 1997, the ABC news service published an article on the country’s endemic bird species.
“In the heart of Africa, a black-bellied sunbird and a beautiful gold-crest-ed bird are among the most endangered birds in the world,” Pedersen wrote. “Without a proper conservation program, these avian inhabitants may soon be extinct.”
Other endemic birds in the area include the Sladen’s Barbet, Phyllastrephus albigularis, and the black-necked weaver, Ploceus nigricollis.
Although not abundant in the Lokomete area, this bird is widely distributed in forest and secondary growth. It is rarely seen in the south of the Congo River, but it has been recorded there as well, and is an excellent indicator species of deforestation and farming.
Lokutu, formerly known as Elizabetha, lies along the southern bank of the Congo River and is the home to many forested areas.
Some of the forested areas are included in the Unilever-run Lokutu Oil Palm Plantation concession. The Congo Basin High Biodiversity Wilderness Area is home to a surprisingly diverse bird population, including 14 endemic species.
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The Cuckooshrikes of Congo are an endangered species that is endemic to the region. This bird is a member of the family Campephagidae and is found in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
These birds are arboreal and can be found in forests, forest edges, and woodland. They can be seen singly or in small flocks. They prefer moist montane forests.
The African Grey Parrot is the largest of the Cuckooshrikes in the Congo rainforest. It resides in small groups and in pairs, incubating clutches of eggs for 28 days.
This species is protected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by conservation and captive breeding programs. While it is not a common sight, it is a valuable addition to a birder’s life list. If you are planning to visit the Congo, be sure to consider the following species.
The Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike is found in the African continent, and is similar to the New Caledonian cuckooshrike.
The Sulawesi Cicadabird is also found in the region. Cuckooshrikes of the Congo are arboreal birds that live in lowland forests. Compared to other species of cuckooshrike, the Congo Cuckooshrike is smaller and less noisy than the Melanesian Cuckooshrike.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to three species of African warblers. They are medium-sized arboreal birds with large heads and long pointed bills.
The Congolese species are particularly distinctive due to their bright colours and contrasting crests. Their distinctive bill shape makes them difficult to miss.
Kingfishers, also known as bustards, are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. There are 93 species of kingfishers worldwide, and the DRC has 14 varieties.
These species are sub-tropical or tropical, and are found in moist low-land forests and savanna. They are found only in Africa and the eastern part of its range, and are considered endangered in the country because of habitat destruction.
Some of them are also migratory birds and migrate to the United States. They are often found with other African warbler species, such as the nymphal tailed warbler (Timaliidae) and the African yellow warbler.
Another endemic species in the Congo is the Blue-whiskered bee-eater, whose calls sound like steam trains. The forest is home to a variety of Hornbill species, including a giant variety and a diminutive variety.
Giant hornbills are often heard calling in the canopy, while dwarf hornbills call from high above.
Another species in the area is the White-crested warbler, which has a strange call and spends most of its time following trooping monkeys. A third species is the White-thighed warbler, which feeds on rainforest fruits.
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The Tufted Guineafowl is a species of Guineafowl that occurs mainly in southern Africa and Madagascar. It was introduced to various parts of the world, including the Cape Town area and Madagascar.
Although it is largely feral, there are some areas of the world where these birds have stabilized into thriving self-sustaining populations. A few species are endemic to the country and are commonly bred for their plumage.
This raucous mid-sized bird can grow up to three-and-a-half pounds. This bird has a unique ability to make a shrill alarm call whenever it detects a threat.
Male guinea fowls, which are the most common pets in the United States, display a Beardsley Zoo band on their right leg. Female guinea fowl make a distinctive call similar to a “buck-wheat, buck-wheat” sound.
Young guinea fowl (called keets) do not make a loud noise until they are adults.
Unlike chickens, Guineafowl breeders should be aware of the potential danger posed by their feathered companions.
This bird will not tolerate confined living conditions and will often wander outside the boundaries of the property. While they are very active, guineas are more difficult to tame than chickens are.
For this reason, they should be given adequate shelter. Either a specially-built coop or a barn room will do.
The Pel’s Fishing owl is a large, orange-colored owl in the Strigidae family. It is mostly nocturnal and hunts fish and frogs from the surface of rivers and lakes.
It usually roosts on large branches during the day and flies out to fish at dusk. It nests in hollows in trees and rarely descends to the ground.
Pel’s Fishing owls hunt from low perches in forest near abundant water sources. They detect fish by watching ripples on the water surface.
While they rarely dive into the water, Pel’s Fishing owls sometimes forage for frogs and fish. They may also forage on land or wade into shallow waters close to sand banks. But these are not their primary sources of food.
Pel’s Fishing owls are found in many areas of C Africa and are local to the region. Its plumage is rich and rufous, with dense, dark bars on its upperparts.
Its underparts are streaked with black. Its bill and cere are black and grey. The feet and tars are straw-coloured. Fishing owls in the Congo are large and rounded with feathery toes.
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Red-billed woodhoopoes breed as a pair, laying white eggs that are slightly tinted with red. The male incubates the eggs and feeds the female and chicks, emerging from the nest to assist him.
The female and chicks produce feces and smelly preen oils to defend themselves. The Congolese woodhoopoes are a largely migratory species.
This medium-sized bird has an erect crest and long decurved bill. Their head is pink or buff and their wings are striped black and white.
They forage for insects and larvae in the soil and leaf litter of trees and other structures. They also use burrows and nest boxes, as well as buildings to build their nests. Their long, rounded wings are equipped with ten primary feathers.
The Green Wood Hoopoe lives in large, open forest areas and in dense forests. It aggregates in groups of 12 to 15 birds, but it also makes use of hollowed-out tree cavities for nesting.
During the nestling period, the female lays between two and four eggs, and the group feeds them until they are about three to four months old. These birds live for up to five years and do not appear to be globally threatened.