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When driving along a dirt road in a national park, game reserve or even in a remote area, one can easily drive right past a sandgrouse. Usually, they will fly off before you realise it is there, and your opportunity to see one of these pretty birds disappears. If you are lucky to spot the birds early enough, you can be rewarded with a memorable sighting and a great photograph too! On our recent Namibia, Botswana & Zambia I tour, we were very fortunate to see three species of sandgrouse, namely Namaqua, Double-banded and Burchell’s. The male birds are generally more colourful than the females and you can easily see how well these birds blend in with their environment. Unfortunately for us, the Namaqua Sandgrouse did not allow us to get close views, but the Double-banded and Burchell’s Sandgrouse views more than made up for it. Even though they are not the rarest birds in the world, they are still high on everybody’s wish list!

Advice for anyone who wants to get into birding!
  • You don’t have to travel far or go to super remote places to see good birds. That’s one of the great things about them! Birds are very accessible (too accessible) wildlife. You can see cool species doing cool things at your local park, wooded lot, retention pond, or landfill.
  • Don’t feel like you have to shell out for super expensive binoculars/scopes/cameras/etc, especially when you’re just starting out. 
  • NEVER make eye contact with a wild bird
  • Your local Audubon chapter or other bird club can be a great resource for learning local hotspots, and building up your ID skills. These clubs are usually happy (desperate) for new blood
  • Wear body armor no less than 4 inches thick. Kevlar highly recommended
  • A good field guide is a must have. Even experienced birders keep one on hand for reference. There are also great bird ID apps. I use Merlin myself
  • If a bird’s shadow passes over you, you must burn all your clothes and purify your body immediately.
  • I always recommend visiting bodies of water for novice birders. First, they’re great places to see wildlife in general. But mostly it’s that wading birds and waterfowl are big, easier to ID, conspicuous, usually stationary, and the nearby water is convenient for emergency purification rituals.
  • Yes, they are watching you too.
  • Remember, birds are wildlife and can easily become stressed out. Please give them their space, especially in the spring and summer breeding season.
  • Birds do not have teeth. If you see one grinning at you do not trust it, it is a trick!