top of page

 Birds and

Birds, Birders and Birding

The relationship between people and birds in Southern Africa has a long history. There are a variety of ways of people knowing about and relating to birds. The history of different groups and the interactions between groups is complex. Insights into our understanding of these relationships and ways of knowing are highlighted in these books:

“Birders of Africa: History of a Network” by Nancy J Jacobs, 2016 Yale University.

The scientific knowledge that is contained in the field guides, books and resources below has a complex history. “By distilling the interactions between European science and African vernacular knowledge, this stunningly illustrated work offers a fascinating examination of the colonial and postcolonial politics of the expertise about nature.” From the front inside cover flap.

BirdLife South Africa are the largest birding organisation in South Africa. They have many initiatives on conservation, supporting communities, and sustainable birding tourism .

Community Projects

BLSA work with young birders through community projects.


BLSA encourage donations of surplus field guides and binoculars for birders in rural areas or who have limited resources.

Ethics, Guidelines and Policy

BLSA produce annual bird name checklists (English and Afrikaans) and organise events. They publish a range of scientific and member-focused publications, reports, newsletters, and magazines. They are active in policy and advocacy, and conservation.


Their online resources on conservation include:

A printable poster on South Africa’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas.

Province specific brochures on Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)


BirdLife South Africa also has resources on sustainable birding tourism for South Africa,

Swaziland, Botswana and Namibia:

They have guidelines on:

Fences and Birds Brochure

Bird-friendly burning & grazing best-practice for grasslands English, Afrikaans & Zulu

Bird-friendly: Habitat management guidelines for the endemic birds of the Fynbos Biome in support of the eight Fynbos endemic bird species.

Floating Wetlands to promote waterbirds' habitat rehabilitation and watercourse conservation and management for farm dams and other agricultural water sources. 

Guide to access avian data for EIA Reports BirdLife South Africa registers, on a regular basis, as an Interested and Affected Party for developments that might affect areas which are important for birds. Although some Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports contain sufficient information, most EIA reports do not provide an accurate reflection of the avifauna that occurs in the proposed area of development.


Position Statements on

Feeding of Birds
Management of Feral Cats and Domestic Cats


Avian Influenza

Invasive Species

Raptors and Climbing

Tracking of Birds

Flushing of Wetland Birds

Gamebird Hunting

Lead Ammunition

Concentrated Solar Power and Birds

Effect of Wind Energy and Birds

Mining in IBAs


Ethics, Guidelines and Policy

BirdLife South Africa also have a Birding Code of Ethics

"We encourage you as birders to take responsibility for your actions when visiting birding sites and act in a manner that will have a positive impact upon the communities and environments that you visit. Support local community and conservation initiatives, pay fair prices and leave only your footprints behind. Click here to download the Birders Code of Conduct (pdf)"


​Explore birds with the local birding community. They have expertise to share about local birds and birding spots. Local conservancies and nature reserves often offer bird and nature walks. Community bird guides are expert birders who are invaluable members of the birding community.

African Bird Club – has an email discussion group here, produces publication twice a year here, plus all Africa quizzes here.

Simply Birding Forum hosts a wide variety of topics organised in sub-topics.

BirdLife South Africa is the largest birding organisation in South Africa.


There many local bird clubs in 8 of the 9 provinces which are affiliated with the national organisation. Check here for the one closest to you.

bottom of page