It is always exciting to identify a particular bird for the first time – even more so in one’s garden. After years of observation, I am familiar with the core of residential birds and look forward to the seasonal visits of others, such as the cuckoos, swallows, and the paradise flycatchers.

I have been thrilled when hitherto fleeting visitors have become more residential, like the African Green Pigeons and, more recently, a pair of Knysna Loeries. I equally mourn the decreasing frequency with which I see what had been fairly regular visitors, like the Hoopoes, Cape Wagtails and the Malachite Sunbirds.

African Green Pigeon

Granted, the habitat of the garden has changed: it has become more forested; there is more shade; the indigenous flowers are seasonal – there is neither space nor enough sunny spots for planting commercially available flower seeds. There are aloes, Plumbago, Cape Honeysuckle, Buddleia salviifolia, Leonotis leonurus (Wild Dagga) and Canary creepers that bloom in their turn.

Apart from the Natal figs there are Harpephyllum caffra (wild plums), white ironwood berries, and Kei Apples. Grass seeds abound too. The birds seem to find plenty of insects, beetles, worms, bees and butterflies to eat – our garden wouldn’t know either an insecticide or herbicide if it saw one.

So, what garden visitor have I identified for the first time? It is a Black-backed Puffback that has been quietly foraging its way through the upper canopy of the Pompon trees fringing the lawn. As it feeds on insects and likes suburban gardens, I hope its stay will be a long one. I shall certainly keep a sharp look out for it.

Blackbacked Puffback

My March list is:

African Green Pigeon

Barthroated Apalis

Black-backed Puffback

Black Crow (Cape)

Black Sunbird (Amethyst)

Blackcollared Barbet

Blackeyed Bulbul

Blackheaded Oriole


Bronze Manikin

Cape Batis

Cape Robin (Cape Robin-chat)

Cape Turtle Dove

Cape Wagtail

Cape Weaver

Cape White-eye

Cardinal Woodpecker

Cattle Egret

Common Starling

Fiery-necked Nightjar

Fiscal Shrike

Forktailed Drongo

Greater Double-collared Sunbird

Greyheaded Bush Shrike

Greyheaded Sparrow


Hadeda Ibis


Knysna Loerie

Laughing Dove

Lesserstriped Swallow

Olive Thrush

Paradise Flycatcher

Pintailed Whydah

Redeyed Dove

Redbilled Woodhoopoe

Redwinged Starling

Rock Martin

Rock Pigeon (Speckled)

Sombre Bulbul

Southern Boubou

Speckled Mousebird

Spectacled Weaver

Streakyheaded Canary

Village Weaver

Whiterumped Swift

Yellowfronted Canary

Yellow Weaver


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