Niger is a landlocked country in West Africa which is slightly less than twice the size of the U.S. state of Texas in land area. It is one of the hottest landlocked countries in the world, and northern four fifths is desert while the one fifth of the southern is suitable for Agriculture. Niger borders seven countries including Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, and Nigeria. Niger’s avian residents are mainly comprised of species well suited for arid environments. The landlocked country of Niger boasts of housing a rich variety of avian fauna. An estimated 530 species have been identified in the country, both resident and migratory. The country’s abundant wetlands are especially important habitats for these birds.
African Grey Woodpecker (Dendropicos goertae)
The African Grey Woodpecker (Dendropicos goertae) is a bird species in the Picidae Family. The bird inhabits much of equatorial and Sub-Saharan Africa, including Niger. The bird is characterized by a straight pointed bill as other woodpeckers. A stiff blackish tail aids the birds to perch against tree trunks. The bird has yoked feet, with two toes each pointing forward and backward. A small red belly, a red rump is characteristics found both in the male and female. The male is differentiated by a red crown while that of the female is gray. The bird mainly feeds on insects by darting its long tongue forward. The bird mainly inhabits tree holes especially oil palms, where it lays eggs. The bird has been listed as Least Concern since no notable decrease in numbers has been identified.
African Finfoot (Podica senegalensis)
The African Finfoot (Podica senegalensis) has a wide habitat range in Niger. It is an aquatic bird that inhabits rivers, lakes, mangrove swamps, creeks, dams. The species has been observed to shy away from either stagnant or fast flowing water. The bird feeds on small snails, insects, crustaceans, snakes, and small fish and occasionally, vegetation. The bird has bright red lobed feet which aid it to swim and wade among fallen branches in water. African Finfoot is characterized by a sharp beak and a long neck, with the male being darker than the females. The bird makes a nest out of fallen branches which it uses for breeding. The bird is listed as Least Concern although there are concerns over pollution and clearing of wetlands.
Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarius)
The Secretary bird is endemic to Africa, found in such countries as Niger, Sudan, Chad, and South Africa. The bird has a crest of black-tipped spatulate feathers. The bird stands between 1.3 to 1.4 meters tall, the bird, is characterized by a small head and bill and long sturdy bare legs for pursuing prey. Its tail has elongated central rectrices. The species inhabits semi-deserts, grassland, and agricultural plantations. The species build nests in Acacia or thorn trees for breeding throughout the year. The bird chiefly feeds on rodents and insects and also lizards, young birds, snakes, amphibians, and mammals. The bird is territorial and spends most times on the ground. The species is listed as Least Concern although it faces threats from deforestation and habitat loss.
Senegal Parrot (Poicephalus senegalus)
The bird species known as the Senegal Parrot (Poicephalus senegalus) is a common variety of avian fauna in West Africa. The bird mainly inhabits savanna and open woodland and grows to an estimated 23 centimeters in length. The bird is characterized by a relatively large beak and head and a short tail. The species lives in tree holes, mainly oil palms used for breeding. After hatching, the young ones take around 12 weeks to become independent from their parents. The bird is listed as Least Concern although it is continuously threatened by capture for the pet trade.
Threats to the Avian Species of Niger
Other native birds of Niger include the Ostrich, Desert Sparrow, Desert Lark, Sennar Penduline Tit, Fork-tailed Drongo, and Fulvous Chatterer. Niger has increasingly become a popular destination for bird sightseeing. Environmental concerns such as clearing of wetlands and bird captures need to be adequately addressed to boost bird-watching and related eco-tourism in the country.