Republic of Liberia

African Barred Owlet Glaucidium capense ©Jason Boyce Website
Birding Liberia

Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the west coast of Africa, bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, and the Atlantic Ocean. As of 2008, the nation is estimated to be home to 3,489,072 people and cover 111,369 square kilometers (43,000 sq mi). Liberia has a hot equatorial climate with most rainfall arriving in summer with harsh harmattan winds in the dry season. Liberia’s populated Pepper Coast is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the sparsely populated inland is forested, later opening to a plateau of drier grasslands.Founded as a colony in 1822 by freed slaves from the United States, the area was already inhabited by various indigenous ethnic groups who had occupied the region for centuries. The freed slaves were so thankful to American president, James Monroe, they named their capital city, Monrovia. In 1847, the colony of freed slaves declared independence and founded the Republic of Liberia. In 1980, the government was overturned in a military coup, and from 1989 to 2005 Liberia was in a state of flux, witnessing two civil wars, the First Liberian Civil War (1989–1996) and the Second Liberian Civil War (1999–2003) that displaced hundreds of thousands of people and devastated the country’s economy.

Liberia is situated in West Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean to the country’s southwest. The landscape is characterized by mostly flat to rolling coastal plains that contain mangroves and swamps, which rise to a rolling plateau and low mountains in the northeast. Tropical rainforests cover the hills, while elephant grass and semi-deciduous forests make up the dominant vegetation in the northern sections. The equatorial climate is hot year-round with heavy rainfall from May to October with a short interlude in mid-July to August. During the winter months of November to March dry dust-laden harmattan winds blow inland causing many problems for residents.Liberia’s watershed tends to move in a southwestern pattern towards the sea as new rains move down the forested plateau off the inland mountain range of Guinée Forestière, in Guinea. Cape Mount near the border with Sierra Leone receives the most precipitation in the nation. The country’s main northwestern boundary is traversed by the Mano River while its southeast limits are bounded by the Cavalla River. Liberia’s three largest rivers are St. Paul exiting near Monrovia, the river St. John at Buchanan and the Cestos River, all of which flow into the Atlantic. The Cavalla is the longest river in the nation at 515 kilometres (320 mi).Liberia’s highest point is Mount Wuteve at 1,380 metres (4,500 ft) above sea level in the northwestern Liberia range of the West Africa Mountains and the Guinea Highlands. However, Mount Nimba near Yekepa, is taller at 1,752 meters (5,748 ft) above sea level but is not wholly within Liberia as Nimba shares a border with Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and is their tallest mountain as well.

Historically, the Liberian economy depended heavily on iron ore and rubber exports, foreign direct investment, as well as the export of its other natural resources, such as timber. Agricultural products include livestock (goats, pigs, cattle) and rice, the staple food. Fish are raised on inland farms and caught along the coast

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 693

    (As at April 2020)

    National Bird: Common Bulbul (Pepperbird) Pycnonotus barbatus

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • Birds of Liberia

    | By Wulf Gatter | Christopher Helm | 2013 | Hardback | 320 pages, plates with 86 colour & 22 b/w photos, 4 plates with colour illustrations; 103 b/w illustrations, b/w distribution maps | ISBN: 9781408190227 Buy this book from
  • The Birds of the Mount Nimba Region in Liberia

    | By Peter Colston & Kai Curry-Lindahl | Natural History Museum Publications | 1986 | Hardback | 136 pages, colour & b/w illustrations, line drawings | ISBN: 9780565009823 Buy this book from
  • African Bird Club

    Liberia is a small country with a bird list of about 617 species, a number of which are found in Liberia and a few adjacent countries only. There have been few ornithological expeditions to Liberia however, and much still remains to be discovered about the distribution of Liberian birds. With a recent civil war, lasting almost continuously from 1990 to 2003, the situation is not likely to improve for some time…
  • West African Ornithological Society

    The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists

Abbreviations Key

  • IBAs

    WebpageSatellite View
    Almost the whole of Liberia falls within the Upper Guinea forests Endemic Bird Area (EBA) and all 15 of its endemic species are found. It also lies entirely within the Guinea-Congo Forest biome and 184 species characteristic of this biome have been found herein. Liberian Greenbul Phyllastrephus leucolepis has only been recorded from a limited area in the east of the country, while Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni is almost entirely confined to Liberia…
  • NP Lofa-Mano

    InformationSatellite View
    This site is 2,300 square kilometres (890 sq mi). The park was proposed to protect an area of unexploited forest in the north-west of the country, bordering Sierra Leone, an area described ecologically at the time as "certainly the most abundant in Liberia
  • NP Sapo

    InformationSatellite View
    It contains the second-largest area of primary tropical rainforest in West Africa after Taï National Park in neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire. Sapo National Park is a "regional centre of endemism" and biodiversity, at one time hosting around 125 mammal species and 590 types of bird.
Trip Reports
  • 2012 [02 February] - Alan G. Johnston

    …Sunbirds included Variable, Olive-bellied, and, new for me, the Mouse-brown Sunbird, locally known as the Brown Sunbird. Also seen were Woodland and Pied Kingfishers, Little Bee-eater, Tawny-flanked Prinia, and Swamp Greenbul (Swamp Palm Bulbul). Our final bird of the morning was the most interesting. We saw a falcon swoop into the forest, then found it in a tree only 50 meters away and had a long look at a Red-footed Falcon. This was a first for Moses, and we are not aware of other records for Monrovia….
Other Links
  • Saving Liberia's Rainforests

    The spectacular biodiversity of Liberia is clearly worth protecting: the forest supports 568 species of birds, 9 of which are endangered, as well as a wide range of plant and animal life. The forest is a unique ecological niche for several rare species, such as the white-breasted guinea fowl

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