Guinea Bissau

African Pygmy Goose Nettapus auritus ©Jason Boyce Website
Birding Guinea-Bissau

The Republic of Guinea-Bissau is a country in western Africa, and one of the smallest nations in continental Africa. It is bordered by Senegal to the north, and Guinea to the south and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west. Its size is nearly 37,000 km² with an estimated population of almost 1,600,000. Formerly the Portuguese colony of Portuguese Guinea, upon independence, the name of its capital, Bissau, was added to the country’s name to prevent confusion with the Republic of Guinea.

At 13,945 sq mi. (36,120 km²), Guinea-Bissau is nearly identical in size to Taiwan, and somewhat larger than the US state of Maryland. This small, tropical country lies at a low altitude; its highest point is 984 feet (300 m). The interior is savanna, and the coastline is swampy plain. Its monsoon-like rainy season alternates with periods of hot, dry harmattan winds blowing from the Sahara. The Bijagos Archipelago extends out to sea.

Guinea-Bissau is warm all year around and there is little temperature fluctuation; it averages 26.3 degrees Celsius. The average rainfall for Bissau is 2024 mm although this is almost entirely accounted for during the rainy season which falls between June and September/October. During the months of December, January, February, March and April, the country experiences drought.

Due to the hard work of the national Institute for Biodiversity and Protected Areas (IBAP), which has custody of the country’s five Protected Areas, more than 25% of the country’s territory is under conservation management. And despite the bad press and occasional political rumblings, the Republic of Guinea-Bissau is generally safe and peaceful with what I consider to be the friendliest people in all of West Africa. Very few touts or fraudsters here, just a curious and welcoming population. Indeed, Bissau is one of the few capital cities of the region where one can wander the faded colonial charm of the streets of the ‘old town’ at pretty much any time of day without fear or hassle.

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 536

    (As at April 2020)
  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
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Useful Reading

  • Birds of Western Africa

    | By Nik Borrow & Ron Demey | Christopher Helm | 2014 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 592 pages, 266 plates with colour illustrations; colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781472905680 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Western and Central Africa

    | By Ber van Perlo | Princeton University Press | 2003 | Paperback | 384 pages, 109 plates with colour illustrations; colour & b/w illustrations, 1500+ b/w distribution maps, colour maps | ISBN: 9780691007144 Buy this book from
  • Important Bird Areas in Guinea-Bissau

    | (Zonas Importantes para as Aves na Guine-Bissau) | By Tim Dodman, Clive Barlow, Joaozinho Sa & Peter Robertson | Wetlands International Guinea-Bissau Office | 2004 | Paperback | 130 pages, tabs, illustrations, maps, colour photos | ISBN: 9789058820235 Buy this book from
  • African Bird Club

    Guinea-Bissau is a small country in West Africa with a bird list of over 500 species. Although it has no endemic species, birding can begin near the capital Bissau and it is a rewarding destination as there is undoubtedly much that remains to be discovered. Much of the country
  • West African Ornithological Society

    The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists

Abbreviations Key

  • IBAs

    WebpageSatellite View
    Information on Guinea-Bissau
  • NP Cacheu River Mangroves

    InformationSatellite View
    The Cacheu River Mangroves Natural Park (Parque Natural dos Tarrafes do Rio Cacheu) is a national park situated on the Cacheu River in Guinea-Bissau...
  • NP Cantanhez Forests

    InformationSatellite View
    The Cantanhez Forests National Park (Parque Nacional das Florestas de Cantanhez) is a 1,057-square-kilometre (408 sq mi)[1] national park in Guinea-Bissau. It was established on 1 October 2007.
  • NP João Vieira and Poilão

    InformationSatellite View
    The Joao Vieira-Poilao Islands Marine National Park is found in Guinea-Bissau. It was established on 1 August 2000. This site is 495.00 km². A chain of islands off the south coast of Guinea-Bissau, four of them are in the Bijagos Archipelago including João Vieira, Cavalo, Maio and Poilão...
  • NP Orango Islands

    InformationSatellite View
    This site is 1582 km² (terrestrial)and 94,235.00 km² (marine). The area covers the southern part including Orango and Orangozinho along with the western islands and the marine portion up to around 150 to 200 km within the Bijagos Archipelago (much of its Bijagos portion of the continental shelf) up to the areas mainly 2,000 meters deep outside the continental shelf, the marine section is the largest in Guinea-Bissau and one of the largest in West Africa.
  • NP Varela

    ArticleSatellite View
    The European Green Party (EGP) are calling for the European Commission to raise the matter of Varela National Park with the Guinea-Bissau government, and support them in ensuring the area is protected from exploitation. This unique ecosystem and the Djola people who live there need protection. The integrity of this vital area must be assured.
  • NaP Cacheu River Mangroves

    InformationSatellite View
    The Cacheu River Mangroves Natural Park (Parque Natural dos Tarrafes do Rio Cacheu) is a national park[2] situated on the Cacheu River in Guinea-Bissau. It was established on 1 December 2000. This site is 886 km². The park has been designated as a Ramsar site since 2015
  • NaP Lagoas Cufada

    InformationSatellite View
    The Lagoas de Cufada Natural Park is found in Guinea-Bissau. It was established on 1 December 2000. This site is 890 km². It was the first protected area in Guinea-Bissau.
Trip Reports
  • 2017 [10 October] - David Karr

    PDF Report
    One place that one doesn’t hear much about as a birding destination is Guinea-Bissau.And yet, this compact, former Portuguese colony on the central West African coast has much to offer to the visiting birder–from pleasant scenery to 500+ species (but no country endemics).
  • 2018 [08 August] - David Karr - Mansôa District

    PDF Report
    Some Observations on West African (Black) Crowned Crane...
  • 2018 [11 Noveber] - David Karr

    PDF Report
    : I joined a group of enthusiastic young researchers for a weekend tour from Bissau by motor boat to the João Vieira and Poilão Islands National Park (2-3 November). T

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