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Birds of Namibia

There are 3 Families in this Order:

  • Family Accipitridae: Typical Raptors, Old World Vultures and Osprey
  • Family Sagittariidae: Secretarybird
  • Family Falconidae: Falcons


This family are a diverse group of raptors split into 2 subfamilies:

  • Pandioninae: 1 x species of Osprey
  • Accipitrinae: All other species including Old World vultures, kites, buzzards, harriers, hawks and eagles.

Plumages for both subfamilies are predominately greys, browns, black and white. Features include erectile crests, hooked bills (adapted for tearing flesh) and strong toes with curved nails (except for vultures) used for striking and killing prey.

Both vultures and eagles are magnificent fliers, capable of soaring to great heights as well as manoeuvring through forests and woodland tree canopies quickly in pursuit of prey. These raptors hunt by a 'sit and wait' technique or by direct pursuit, feeding mainly on animals usually invertebrates caught live. Vultures though, feed mainly on carrion. Examples of species that eat specialist foods are:

  • Palm-nut vulture: Fruits of oil palm and raphia palm
  • Osprey, fish and sea-eagles: Fish
  • Bat hawks: Bats.
  • Snake-eagles: Reptiles
  • Honey-buzzards: Wasps

Another characteristic of raptors is the re-use of platform nests which in subsequent years grow very large. Nests are also built on cliffs, in trees or on the ground, where they are often lined with green leaves. Females lay between 1 and 5 eggs, cared for by both adults.


There is just the 1 species in this subfamily found in Namibia. It is the:


There are 45 species of this subfamily found in Namibia. They are:


One of Namibia's most photographed and admired members of the avian community is the secretarybird. It is a large long-necked raptor with a bare face and a characteristic loose crest of long, spatulate feathers on the nape. Their broad wings are adapted for soaring and are raised in excitement at the sight of prey. The long tail has elongated central tail feathers. Other features include a strong bill, with hooked tip. Unusually long legs are adapted for hunting, occasionally stamping on the ground repeatedly in a small area to dislodge or disturb prey. As all prey is caught on the ground the feet are an essential weapon. Exceptionally hard, downward blows kill prey during stamping bouts,even though the feet are poOrange Rivery adapted for grasping. The toes are short for such strong feet and long legs, with short, blunt claws on front toes on a webbed base.

The territorial range of the secretarybird is usually 50 to 60km around the nest. Territorial demonstrations include 'wings-open' displays and 'soaring and pendulum' exhibitions which can last for up to 15mins. Males chase females around in circles with wings held above back through the grass to begin the dating proceedings, with a series of lower and higher intensity 'up-down bowing' courtship presentations to follow. Copulation is performed on the ground or in a tree.

The nest is built by both male and female. It is made of sticks, lined with grass and at times pieces of dung. Lining is added during incubation and the new 'home sweet home' is placed on the top of a thorny tree for extra protection, such as a black thorn, umbrella thorn, sweet thorn or black wattle of pine, usually 4 to 5m above the ground. Pairs often roost in the nest tree for months which are re-used over successive years.


Falcons are a diverse group of diurnal raptors. Features include short necks, large heads, medium to long tails and long pointed wings. Their bills are strong and hooked, with notched 'tooth' on the upper mandible. Strong toes with curved claws, on fairly short leg enable them to strike prey in the air or on the ground. Nests are made in trees or in cliffs, with females laying between 2 and 6 blotched, reddish-brown eggs. The subfamily Polihierax are minute, dumpy falcons. The other subfamily Falco, are typical falcons with long and narrow wings with typical black moustachial or maler stripes. There are 14 members of this family found in Namibia. They are:

Fish River Lodge Hikes

5, 3 or 2 Days - hiking trails in the Fish River Canyon. Hikers carry a day pack and additional luggage is transported to the overnight stops

Mundulea Walking Trails

3 or 4 Days - Absolutely brilliant! One of the best experiences in Namibia

Tok Tokkie Hiking Trail

3 Days - Excellent guided walking trail on the NamibRand private reserve (near Sossusvlei)

Namib Mountain Trail

A day hike between two lodges on the very edge of the Namib Desert

Rostock Ritz Hiking

The Rostock Ritz Lodge north of Sossusvlei (en-route to Swakopmund) has a variety of guided and un-guided hikes ranging in duration from an hour to an entire day

Tsondab Valley Scenic Reserve Hiking

A lodge on the edge of the Namib Desert which offers exceptional hiking & walking

Namibia Safaris