Birding Big 6

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Pel's Fishing Owl (Credit: Xaro Lodge)

Maybe you’ve spotted the Big 5 – lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo - on your first few trips to the Kruger National Park, perhaps even more than once. Maybe you’ve even seen them all in one day. If you know your animals, you’re also familiar with the fascinating ‘Little 5’: ant-lion, leopard tortoise, rhino beetle, elephant shrew, buffalo weaver. Where the Big five were chosen to represent the species most desired in times of trophy-hunting, the little five are the species often overlooked, and mostly underrated, by tourists. However, unless you are a birder par excellence, we bet you can’t name the Birding Big 6 – the six species people most want to see at the Park. For the not-so-brilliant birders, we've made a list of the Big 6, and where you can find them:

Kori Bustard

Image credit: Michael Poliza

The grey and brown birds with black crests often wander around carrying bee-eaters, who pick off the insects off the bustard’s back. Find this grassland species at Crocodile Bridge, Lower Sabie and Satara.

Martial Eagle

Image credit: Clive Prior

One of the world’s most powerful avian predators, with a massive wingspan (reaching up to 260 cm) this eagle can be spotted at Satara, Parfuri, and Punda Maria.

Lappetfaced Vulture

Undoubtedly the most aggressive and powerful African vultures, other vultures will usually cede a carcass to the Lappet-faced Vulture because of its strength, size, and ability to tear through tough hide and muscle – almost like a hyena. They can be found at Satara, Parfuri, and Punda Maria.

Pel's Fishing Owl

Image credit: M. Oosthuizen

Fish and frogs make up the diet of this owl, which lends it its designation as a fisher. The species can be found in the riverine trees of the slow moving Luvuvhu River at Parfuri.

Saddle-billed Stork

The unusual appearance of the saddle-billed stork in flight, with its head drooping just below belly-height, makes it a dead giveaway for any avid birder. The Olifants River provides great views of this water bird.

Southern Ground Hornbill

The characteristic bright red throat and casqued bill of this bird make it an unmistakable sighting. The Mopane woodlands of Bateleur and the open grass of Punda Maria are both excellent spots for sightings.

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