Birds of the Congo Basin
The Republic of Congo is a Central African country known for its high biodiversity, including its richness in bird species. It is estimated that there are more than 800 species of birds in Congo Basin, including about 700 in the Republic of Congo alone.
The Republic of the Congo is home to a great diversity of bird species, several of which are emblematic of the region. Here are a few :
The African gray parrot (Psittacus erithacus): The African gray parrot is a gregarious species of parrot, very intelligent and capable of learning many words and expressions. It is widespread throughout Congo Basin, including the Republic of Congo, where it is often kept as a pet.
The turaco is a colorful and emblematic bird of the region, easily recognizable thanks to its bright plumage. The turaco is a medium-sized sub-Saharan African bird. There are 18 species of turaco, which are mainly distinguished by the marking on the face.
The silver-cheeked ground hornbill (Bycanistes brevis): The silver-cheeked ground hornbill is a species of hornbill that is endemic to Congo Basin, including the Republic of Congo. It is easily recognizable by its black head and neck, white chest and massive beak.
African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer): The African Fish Eagle is a large species of eagle found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including the Congo Basin. It is often seen hunting fish near streams and lakes.
African Swift (Apus barbatus): The African Swift is a species of migratory bird that overwinters in Africa, including the Republic of Congo. It is easily recognized by its swift and graceful flight, and is often seen in large numbers in the sky.
The African gray parrot (Psittacus erithacus)
The African gray parrot, also known as the jaco parrot, is a gregarious parrot species native to sub-Saharan Africa, including the Republic of Congo. It is one of the most popular parrot species as a pet bird in the world, due to its intelligence and ability to learn words and phrases.
The African gray parrot is a large bird, measuring about 33 centimeters in length and weighing between 400 and 650 grams. Its plumage is mostly gray, with a red tail and dark wings. Young parrots have a shorter beak and lighter plumage color than adults.
These parrots are very social and need interaction with humans and other parrots to be happy and healthy. They are also very intelligent and can learn many words and expressions, as well as tricks and behaviors.
The African gray parrot is a protected species due to loss of its natural habitat and illegal hunting for the pet trade. Conservation efforts aim to protect the natural habitats of parrots, as well as raise awareness of parrot conservation issues and encourage captive breeding rather than capture of wild parrots.
The turaco is one of the colorful and emblematic birds that can be found in the forests of Central Africa, especially in the Congo.
The turaco is easily recognizable thanks to their bright plumage. Males and females have similar colors, but males tend to have taller crests than females. The turaco also has red eyes, a unique feature among birds.
These birds mainly live in dense forests and wooded areas, where they feed mainly on fruits, leaves and flowers. They are also known for their loud, melodious call, which is often used to communicate with other turacos.
The green turaco is characterized by bright light green plumage. Its tail is long and its head furnished with a colorful crest-like crest. It has a bright red, robust, curved beak with a black tip. The green turaco has short and rounded wings, red markings are uncovered when they are deployed. The lower back, legs, feet and tail are dark.
Its size is 43 cm long with the tail. Its weight varies from 220 g to 300 g. However, the great blue turaco can measure up to 75 cm.
Although turacos are considered relatively common in their natural habitat, their population is threatened by habitat destruction and hunting for their meat and feathers. As a result, they are classified as ‘special concern’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
The silver-cheeked ground hornbill (Bycanistes brevis)
The hornbill is a species of bird in the family Bucerotidae, which is endemic to central Africa, including the Republic of Congo. It is easily recognizable by its black and white plumage, black head and neck, white chest and large helmet-like beak.
Silver-cheeked ground hornbills are large birds, measuring between 70 and 75 cm in length and weighing up to 2 kg. They feed mainly on fruits, but can also eat insects, small mammals and reptiles.
These birds are known for their aggressive territorial behavior, with loud calls and threatening bill movements when feeling threatened or defending their territory. Males and females work together to build their nest, which is often built in hollow trees or tree trunks.
The silver-cheeked ground hornbill is threatened by the loss of its natural habitat due to deforestation, as well as illegal hunting for meat and the illegal pet trade. Conservation of this species includes protecting its natural habitat and raising public awareness of the conservation importance of silver-cheeked ground hornbills.
African fish eagle
It is also known as the sea eagle, is a species of eagle that is widely distributed in the wetlands of sub-Saharan Africa, including the Republic of Congo. As its name suggests, this bird specializes in catching fish, but can also feed on other aquatic animals such as turtles, crocodiles or frogs.
The African fish eagle is a large predatory bird, measuring about 60 to 75 centimeters in length and weighing between 2.5 and 4 kilograms. Its plumage is dark brown with a distinctive white head and a hooked, powerful beak. Young birds have a different appearance, with dark brown feathers on the head and body, and less hooked beak than adults.
These eagles are known for their territorial behavior and impressive aerial acrobatics, which include rapid descents and spectacular dives. They are also efficient predators, capable of grabbing fish weighing up to 2 kilograms in flight or while diving into the water.
The African fish eagle is an endangered species due to the destruction of its natural habitat, pollution of wetlands and illegal hunting for the pet trade. Conservation efforts for this species include protecting natural habitats and raising public awareness of fish eagle conservation issues.
African swift (Apus barbatus)
The swift is a migratory bird present in sub-Saharan Africa, including the Republic of Congo. It is a medium-sized bird, measuring about 17 to 19 centimeters in length and weighing between 35 and 55 grams. Its plumage is mainly black, with green highlights on the upper parts of the body.
African Swift feeds mainly on insects, which it catches in flight. It spends most of its life in flight, landing only to nest and sleep. They are very fast birds, capable of flying at speeds of up to 120 km/h.
These birds are known for their gregarious behavior, with large flocks of kingfishers flying in formation. They often nest in rocky areas, cliffs and buildings, constructing their nest from materials such as mud, twigs and feathers.
The African swift is considered a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as it has a wide geographic distribution and a stable population. However, the degradation of the natural habitat, pollution and collisions with buildings can threaten the survival of this species.
Where to observ birds on safari cruises on the Congo and Sangha rivers?
Daily in groups of 8 people, passengers leave on motor tenders to explore the tributaries or land on dry land. Our ornithologist guide will take you to the best places to observe the birds of the Congo Basin. Each year, a special ornithologist cruise will be organised. Find out more about the Ducret Expeditions Congo cruise itinerary.