Heading to Sanbona Wildlife Reserve near Cape Town as a birder, a twitcher or an ornithologist is a treat, as the Little Karoo is a well-known birding destination and Sanbona is home to more than 200 species of birds!  The banks of the Bellair Dam are a hotspot of avian activity where more than 40 species of birdlife call it home.

Even guests that visit to see the 4-legged and unwinged creatures on Sanbona, are thrilled by the sights and sounds of the variety of birds during the day and at night.

Raptors are plentiful, signifying that even though life may seem sparse to the eye, there is enough sustenance to support the Pale Chanting Goshawks, Black-winged Kites, Fish and Verreaux’s Eagles that own the wind in this big sky country of ours.  Raptors such as the goshawks are “indicator species”, if these are plentiful, it indicates that the resources that support them are present and abundant.

There are two breeding pairs of Verreaux’s Eagle on Sanbona.  These massive eagles have very specific nesting requirements, choosing one of a few nests in a specific area, returning year after year to raise their one chick to adulthood. They lay more than one egg, but if two chicks hatch, the strongest chick will kill the weaker one, assuring that it gets all the resources needed to become a successful fledgling.

Secretary Bird

The dogs of the sky, Jackal Buzzards, ride the wind as they hang on the edges of the koppies (little hills), spying for movement of brave small mammals and reptiles. Their haunting call reminiscent of their four-legged kin that scavenges the plains below.

Jackal Buzzard

Our dams overflow with waterfowl, and the small pans are frequently graced with the presence of African Spoonbills swaying from side to side as they siphon the water for small invertebrates.

Night time is no different, Spotted Eagle owls hoot their way from one treetop to the other, echoed by the shy Cape Eagle Owls that live in Tilney Gorge. Barn Owls screech their presence as their flight transects across the landscape in search of rodents to feed their insatiable appetite.

Spotted Eagle Owl

As dawn breaks the hoarse toady call of the pacing Karoo Korhaans can be heard from afar, a sound that is as at home in this landscape as the dust devils that race across the plains to meet the small Double Banded Coursers, who never sit still long enough for you to get a good look at them!

The gardens of our lodges are bursting with birdlife. It is here where you will see the more colourful species. The arrogant Southern Double-collared Sunbird and its arch-nemesis, the Malachite Sunbird, with its emerald green long tailed tuxedo, lay claim on all the bright flowers of the aloes.

Southern Double Collared Sunbird

There is calming comfort to be found in the call of a Cape Spurfowl as it echoes across the landscape. Their chitter chatter traveling with the covey as they search for sustenance in an unforgiving environment, only to be interrupted when they find a midday roosting spot under a protective acacia tree.

After the thrill of your early morning or evening game drive, you have an open invitation to sit back and relax, with a refreshment in hand, and let your senses feast on the sights and sounds of our wonderful birdlife.