Birds of Kirstenbosch

The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is one of the great gardens in the world, with incredible scenery, variety of plants and easy-to-see birding. Over 100 bird species have been recorded, making it one of the top spots on the Cape Peninsula for birders to visit for a few hours.

The map below shows some of the important areas to visit for birding in Kirstenbosch.

Kirstenbosch map
Kirstenbosch map (1=gate 1, 2=gate 2, L=lawns, B=Boomslang, P=Proteas, F=forest)

Lower lawns and pond (L)
Helmeted Guineafowl and Cape Spurfowl cross the lawns throughout the Gardens. The reeds near the pond may have warblers and Common Waxbills. The Bronze Mannikin is a new arrival and may be seen drinking, and feeding on algae, near the Botanical Society shop. Flocks of Swee Waxbills forage on the lawns. African Goshawk can often be heard calling in the early morning as it circles high above the gardens.

Swee Waxbill male feeding on lawn in early morning

Boomslang Canopy Trail (B)
This walkway provides spectacular views over the gardens, and also some good birding. Spotted Eagle Owls may roost in the trees next to the walkway. At times Olive Pigeons may be seen in the tree-tops. Cape Batis, Cape White-eyes and other birds also pass by.

Spotted Eagle Owl
Spotted Eagle Owl roosting

Protea and Erica section (P)
The proteas and ericas attract four nectarivores, namely Malachite Sunbird, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, and Cape Sugarbird. Some of these birds move higher up the slopes at certain times of the year. Other species often seen in these parts are Forest Canary, Karoo Prinia, and Southern Boubou.

Malachite Sunbird male

Indigenous forest (F)
Walks along paths in the forested areas produce a variety of birds: Lemon Dove, Dusky Flycatcher, African Olive Pigeon, and others. Sombre Bulbuls can be heard calling daily. A good place to sample the forest is along the Braille Trail, which starts opposite the Fragrance Garden.

Dusky Flycatcher
Dusky Flycatcher


List of most common birds at Kirstenbosch, with most commonly seen listed first

Sombre Greenbul   Andropadus importunus
Southern Boubou   Laniarius ferrugineus
Southern Double-collared Sunbird   Cinnyris chalybeus
Cape Robin-Chat   Cossypha caffra
Helmeted Guineafowl   Numida meleagris
Red-winged Starling   Onychognathus morio
Cape Sugarbird   Promerops cafer
African Olive-Pigeon   Columba arquatrix
Red-eyed Dove   Streptopelia semitorquata
Cape Spurfowl   Pternistis capensis
African Dusky Flycatcher   Muscicapa adusta
Cape Turtle-Dove   Streptopelia capicola
Cape Bulbul   Pycnonotus capensis
Cape Canary   Serinus canicollis
Speckled Mousebird   Colius striatus
Egyptian Goose   Alopochen aegyptiacus
Orange-breasted Sunbird   Anthobaphes violacea
Hadeda Ibis   Bostrychia hagedash
Cape Batis   Batis capensis
Forest Canary   Crithagra scotops
Levaillant’s Cisticola   Cisticola tinniens
Common Waxbill   Estrilda astrild
Cape Grassbird   Sphenoeacus afer
Common Fiscal   Lanius collaris
African Goshawk   Accipiter tachiro
African Paradise-Flycatcher   Terpsiphone viridis
Brimstone Canary   Crithagra sulphuratus
White-necked Raven   Corvus albicollis
Laughing Dove   Streptopelia senegalensis
Spotted Eagle-Owl   Bubo africanus
Common Chaffinch   Fringilla coelebs
Black Saw-wing   Psalidoprocne holomelaena
Pied Crow   Corvus albus
Steppe Buzzard   Buteo vulpinus
Little Rush-Warbler   Bradypterus baboecala
Red-chested Cuckoo   Cuculus solitarius
Bokmakierie   Telophorus zeylonus
African Black Swift   Apus barbatus
Swee Waxbill   Coccopygia melanotis
Common Starling   Sturnus vulgaris
Alpine Swift   Tachymarptis melba
Malachite Sunbird   Nectarinia famosa
Cattle Egret   Bubulcus ibis
Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk   Accipiter rufiventris
Lemon Dove   Aplopelia larvata
Karoo Prinia   Prinia maculosa
Olive Thrush   Turdus olivaceus
Cape White-eye   Zosterops virens
Bar-throated Apalis   Apalis thoracica
Olive Woodpecker   Dendropicos griseocephalus
Black Sparrowhawk   Accipiter melanoleucus
Brown-backed Honeyguide  Prodotiscus regulus

General information about the gardens, shops and restaurants at Kirstenbosch is available on the SANBI web.

For a guided bird tour in Kirstenbosch and elsewhere, contact Dieter.

Dieter is a qualified Bird Ringer and trainer, registered bird guide, and Weaver expert. Dieter is able to act as a bird guide for day trips in Cape Town, and is able to customise birds tours in South Africa and beyond.