Bird watching in the Pilanesberg National Park is excellent and it is a prime venue for bushveld birding with some 350 bird species being recorded, including migrants and permanent inhabitants.
Birding in winter may yield up to 100 bird species while summer birding should yield many more! A two to four day stay is recommended, although day visits to the Pilanesberg from Gauteng are also worthwhile.
Big 5 nature reserve birding has it's downside; you can't leave your car! The best birding is thus in the campsites (if overnighting) and by driving to the different viewing spots, hides and picnic spots where you may get out of your vehicle. The Pilanesberg National Park road network is excellent, so make sure you obtain a map at the gate.
Birding Habitats of the Pilanesberg National Park include rocky ridges, hill slopes, grasslands, woodlands, dams with connecting streams, and a vlei adjoining one of the dams.
The hill slopes have Pied Babbler, Sabota Lark, Rufousnaped Lark, Little Bee-eater and Whitefronted Bee-eater,
The grasslands and savannas support Lilacbreasted Roller, Purple Roller, Ostrich, Secretarybird, Pale Chanting Goshawk and Longtailed Shrike. Kori Bustard, Whitewinged Korhaan and Redcrested Korhaan are common.
The woodland thickets have Redbilled Hornbill, Southern Yellowbilled Hornbill, Grey Hornbill, Greenspotted Dove, Marico Flycatcher, Goldenbreasted Bunting, Violeteared Waxbill and Blue Waxbill. Many west-east species pairs occur at Pilanesberg, e.g. Whitebacked Mousebird and Speckled Mousebird, Ashy Tit and Southern Black Tit, Pied Babbler and Arrowmarked Babbler, Redeyed Bulbul and Blackeyed Bulbul, Kalahari Robin and Whitebrowed Robin, and Shafttailed Whydah and Pintailed Whydah.
In the rocky areas one may see Black Eagle, Rock Kestrel, Jackal Buzzard, Rock Pigeon, Rameron Pigeon, Mocking Chat, Rock Martin and Rock Bunting. Other raptors include Blackbreasted Snake Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, and several true eagles (Tawny Eagle, Wahlberg's Eagle, Martial Eagle). Pearlspotted Owl and Spotted Eagle Owl are common.
There are many small dams in the reserve in addition to the large central Mankwe Dam. These have African Fish Eagle, Hamerkop, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, African Spoonbill and terns. A large vlei at the eastern end of Mankwe Dam attracts African Crake, Redchested Flufftail, and Grass Owl. Osprey is a vagrant but has often been recorded at Mankwe Dam during the rainy season.
A vulture restaurant near reserves Manyane Gate (on the eastern side of the Pilanesberg National Park) attracts 30-40 Cape Vultures, and occasionally Whitebacked Vulture and Lappetfaced Vulture, and Marabou Stork.
There is a self-guided trail in the Walking Area at Manyane Complex in the east, which offers environmental education whilst enjoying game viewing and bird watching on foot. Also at Manyane is a walk-in aviary with over 80 species of indigenous birds.
Pilanesberg National Park Birding Specials:
Include African Crake, Redchested Flufftail, Grass Owl, Osprey, raptors, Cape Vulture, Whitebacked Vulture, Lappetfaced Vulture, Green Sandpiper, African Cuckoo, Redbilled Oxpecker and typical bushveld species.
Printable Pilanesberg National Park bird list
North West Province Travel Guide
North West Province Map
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