Cape Robin Chat Cossypha caffra ©Stephen Hammer Website

Gauteng is one of the nine provinces of South Africa. Situated on the Highveld, Gauteng’s southern border is the Vaal River, which separates it from the Free State. It also borders on North West to the west, Limpopo to the north, and Mpumalanga to the east. Gauteng is the only landlocked province of South Africa without a foreign border. Most of Gauteng is on the Highveld, a high-altitude grassland (c.1,500m or c.5,000 ft above sea level). Between Johannesburg and Pretoria, there are low parallel ridges and undulating hills, some part of the Magaliesberg Mountains and the Witwatersrand. The north of the province is more subtropical, due to its lower altitude and is mostly dry savanna habitat.

Gauteng is the smallest province by land area in South Africa. Although Gauteng accounts for only 1.5% of the country’s land area, it is the most populous province with over 16 million people so is home to more than a quarter of South Africa’s population. Highly urbanised, the province contains the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, which is also one of the largest cities in the world with more than six million people. Gauteng is the wealthiest province in South Africa and is considered the financial hub of not only South Africa but the entire African continent; the financial activity is mostly concentrated in Johannesburg. It also contains the administrative capital, Pretoria its second city with almost three million people, and other large areas such as Midrand, Vanderbijlpark, Ekurhuleni and the affluent Sandton.

The climate is mostly influenced by altitude. Even though the province is at a subtropical latitude, the climate is comparatively cooler, especially in Johannesburg, at 1,700m (5,577ft) above sea level (Pretoria is at 1,330m or 4,364ft). Most precipitation occurs as brief afternoon thunderstorms; however, relative humidity never becomes uncomfortable. Winters are crisp and dry with frost occurring often in the southern areas. Snow is rare, but it has occurred on some occasions in the Johannesburg metropolitan area.

Birding Gauteng

Gauteng, is not only the most populous province, but also the industrial heartland of South Africa, much of its natural habitat is degraded. The province does however offer high bird diversity, as it straddles the transition between several different biomes. Approximately 350 species are regularly present, and many more have been recorded. Gauteng province offers the visitor 60 endemic species or near endemics to the Southern African Region, which can make a short birding foray very worthwhile for global twitchers with limited time.

Gauteng lies on the continental watershed, and much of the province is at relatively high altitude (1000m to1600m). This is part of a wider region known as the highveld. The east and south is largely grasslands, with the Suikerbosrand range being a key feature of the southern section. These grasslands are largely degraded through agriculture, but a range of grassland endemics and specials are still present, especially in the Suikerbosrand reserve, and to a lesser extent along the eastern border of the province. The Magaliesburg is a prominent ridge that runs westwards from Pretoria.

North of the Magaliesburg range, and in the valleys of the west and northwest part of the province, it is much warmer and woodlands and wooded valleys prevail. The best woodlands are the acacia thornveld of the northern parts of the province and broadleaved woodlands in the northeast. A number of significant wetlands and large water bodies provide for a good range of water birds, and up to 17 species of herons are possible! The most important of the wetlands is the Blesbokspruit – an extensive wetland near Nigel in the southeast of the province.

While there is no reason for birders to restrict themselves to birding just in the Gauteng Province, it does contain a number of excellent birding localities, so is well worth a visit.

Gauteng is a common stopover for business travellers or conference-goers, and while the localities below can provide a fine birding interlude, it is best to venture a little further into neighbouring North West Province for really excellent bushveld birding. Top localities nearby include Vaalkop Dam (Northwest Bird Sanctuary); Borakolalo National Park and Pilanesburg in the North West Province, Nylsvley Nature Reserve and Zaagkuildrift in the Northern Province, and Loskop Dam Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga. There is also superb highveld birding some three hours drive away in the Memel or Wakkerstroom areas, both of which offer a range of grassland endemics.

This page is sponsored by Birding Ecotours

Top Sites
  • Marievale Bird Sanctuary

    InformationSatellite View
    This sanctuary is part of the Blesbokspruit, a RAMSAR wetland, and it contains the best wetland birding in the region. It is known for regional rarities such as Slaty Egret, Baillon’s Crake and Painted Snipe as well as endemics such as Cape Shoveler, Yellow Canary and South African Shelduck.
  • Northeastern Gauteng

    Satellite View
    This relatively unknown area offers a wide variety of woodland habitats, including very fine broadleaved woodland that is host to a number of specials. The area is good for raptors such as African Baza, Lizard Buzzard and Black-breasted Snake Eagle. Most local birders come here for woodland specials such a Green-capped Eremomela, Tinkling Cisticola and Pallid Flycatcher. The area also offers the Roodeplaat Dam and neighbouring reserves, as well as the Buffelsdrift Conservancy area, which offers a range of excellent thornveld and riverine birding.
  • Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    A very fine, pristine patch of highveld grassland and rugged hills, the Suikerbosrand reserve is the best place to see a range of specialities, some of which are found nowhere else in the province. These include Grey-winged Francolin, Yellow-tufted Pipit and in Winter, Sentinel Rock Thrush.
  • The Witwatersburg

    Satellite View
    This range of hills which runs parallel to the larger magaliesburg provides a mix of highveld grassland, partially wooded (bushveld) and more densely wooded habitats. Several relatively undisturbed areas provide haven for large raptors such as Martial Eagle and rivers conceal African Finfoot. There are a number of private reserves, hiking trails and picnic spots in this scenic area, which extends for the town of Magaliesburg in the west to the Schurveburge just west of Pretoria.
  • Etienne Marais

    Pretoria |

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 605

    (As at March 2024)
  • But c. 60 of the South Africa endemics or near endemics can be found in the state
  • Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World

    PDF Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
  • Wikipedia

    Annotated Bird List
    This is a list of common names of birds occurring in Gauteng, South Africa. Gauteng includes both the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria, and numerous satellite municipalities spreading over a total of some 18,000 square km and an enormous diversity of habitat, and ranging in elevation from 1300 to 1900 metres.
Useful Reading

  • The Chamberlain Guide to Birding Gauteng

    | (101 Prime Birding Sites in and Around Johannesburg and Pretoria ) | by Faansie Peacock & Etienne Marais | Mirafra Publishing | 2008 | 384 pages, Maps, colour photos, maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780620416214 Buy this book from
Useful Information
  • Best Birding Spots in Gauteng - Birding South Africa

    When one thinks of great Birding destinations in sunny South Africa, the economic powerhouse province of Gauteng probably isn't the first place that comes to mind. The province is landlocked between its larger neighbours and is far smaller than the other provinces, only making up 1.5 percent of the total landmass of the country.
Museums & Universities
  • Ditsong National Museum of Natural History

    The Bird or Ornithology Section has had a fluctuating history as the structure of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History has altered over the decades. Until the Second World War, the Bird Collections were curated within a larger “Higher Vertebrates Department” under the curatorship of Austin Roberts. During his 38-year-long career at the Museum Roberts established the museum’s bird collection as the finest on the African continent.
  • BirdLife Inkwazi

  • BirdLife Northern Gauteng

    BirdLife Northern Gauteng / Gauteng-Noord is an affiliate bird club of BirdLife South Africa and is a home for birders of all ages, interests and skill levels. Our activities include day outings, weekend and longer trips to special birding destinations, a monthly evening meeting, courses on bird identification, and opportunities to contribute to citizen science and conservation
  • BirdLife Northern Gauteng

    Facebook Page
    Formerly the Pretoria Bird Club….
  • BirdLife Sandton

  • Cuckoo Bird Club

  • Rand Barbet Bird Club

    Facebook Page
    Rand Barbet Bird Club meets monthly in the evening for a talk, goes on a Sunday outing in Gauteng one Sunday a month – and in summer week-day outings too – has two field trips a year, participates in Birding Big Day and members arrange ad hoc trips and outings among themselves.
  • Vaal Bird Club

  • Waterfall Bird Club

  • Witwatersrand Bird Club

    The Witwatersrand Bird Club is the oldest bird club in South Africa having been established in 1947 and is a club which prides itself in supporting numerous local, national and international birding conservation initiatives and searching for, and enjoying the local birds of the region.

Abbreviations Key

  • BS Austin Roberts

    InformationSatellite View
    The Austin Roberts (Memorial) Bird Sanctuary is a 11.76 ha (29.1 acres) nature reserve located in the Walkerspruit Open Space System, in the Nieuw Muckleneuk suburb of Pretoria, South Africa. It became the first bird refuge in Pretoria when it was opened.
  • BS Marievale

    Facebook PageSatellite View
    Approximately 1 000ha in extent, the sanctuary supports more than 240 bird species, among them 65 waterbird species, including large populations of Reed Cormorant, Red-knobbed Coot and Yellow-billed Duck. The sanctuary is also one of the best locations in Gauteng to see Goliath, Black, Squacco and Purple herons.
  • GR Krugersdorp

    InformationSatellite View
    The reserve is also popular for bird watching, and more than 200 species that have been recorded there; Guests can travel the park in vehicles or on horseback.
  • NR Groenkloof

    InformationSatellite View
    Over 120 bird species have been recorded in the reserve and the adjacent Fountains Valley. The grassy floodplain of the Apies river and its riparian vegetation provide breeding habitat for a number of weaver, bishop and widow species, while the open woodlands on the lower hill slopes provide breeding territories for bushshrike and tchagra species.
  • NR Rietvlei

    InformationSatellite View
    Some 404 species of bird utilize the reserve. Some special or less commonly seen species are Alpine swift in winter, African yellow warbler in shrubs along the flood plain, great crested grebe and maccoa duck at the dams, African cuckoo hawk, Peregrine falcon, red-throated wryneck and orange-breasted waxbill.
  • NR Abe Bailey

    InformationSatellite View
    It is situated near Carletonville, beside the township of Khutsong on the West Rand. It is about 4,200 hectares in size.
  • NR Alice Glockner

    InformationSatellite View
    It is a 168-hectare (420-acre) nature reserve located south of Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve. It has altitudes between 1,600 and 1,700 metres (5,200 and 5,600 ft) above sea level.
  • NR Melville Koppies

    InformationSatellite View
  • NR Roodeplaat

    InformationSatellite View
    It is located on the shores of the Roodeplaat Dam, 22 km north-east of Pretoria.
  • NR Suikerbosrand

    InformationSatellite View
    An hour's drive from Johannesburg International Airport and near the historical town of Heidelberg, this reserve boasts a representative sample of the fauna and flora of the rocky Highveld grassland biome.
  • NR Wonderboom

    InformationSatellite View
    is a 1 km², 200-hectare reserve that incorporates a section of the Magaliesberg range in the northern portion of the Pretoria metropole, South Africa.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Birding Africa

    Tour Operator
    Birding Africa is run by three Capetonian birders and naturalists, Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode and Peter Ryan, all based at the University of Cape Town`s Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. Callan and Claire are postgraduate research students, and have recently published an new birding site guide to Cape Town and beyond: Essential Birding - Western South Africa. Peter is a lecturer and researcher, and the author of numerous publications, most recently a new field guide to the birds of Afrotropics.
  • Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    The 1-3-day trip to the northeastern parts of ‘wider’ Gauteng offers both species richness and species diversity. A day list of 150 in the summer and 120 in the winter is not an uncommon achievement.
  • Bustards Birding

    Tour Operator
    Day trips in the area know by local birders as the Wider Gauteng area, focused on a geographical area a 100km radius from the city centers of Johannesburg and Pretoria provide a diverse array of habitats, which in turn produce a diverse array of bird species, some 500 species have been recorded. In an 8 hour trip during summer, over 100 species can be recorded, and winter 80 or more.
Trip Reports
  • 2017 [09 September] - Dylan Vasapolli

    PDF Report
    This short tour began and ended in Johannesburg and saw us transiting northwards first to the rich thornveld of the Zaagkuilsdrift Road, followed by the montane forests of the Magoebaskloof hills before visiting the moist grasslands and broad-leaved woodlands found in north-eastern Gauteng.
  • 2023 [09 September] - Birding Ecotours

    PDF Report
    We started our 12-day birding and wildlife tour with some brief birding around the gardens of The Safari Club in Johannesburg, where Barbara and Kevin Strobino (mother and son) and their Birding Ecotours guide, had stayed overnight. This turned up several Karoo Thrushes, a flock of Red-headed Finches around the bird feeder, Thick-billed Weaver, Cape RobinChat, Southern Masked Weaver, and Red-eyed and Laughing Doves, which made for a good start.
Places to Stay
  • 2 Mokolo

    2 Mokolo offers an intimate respite from the hustle of the city. Entering the gates, you
Other Links
  • Etienne Marais Birding

    Facebook Page
    Etienne Marais (see above) leads short tours in the Gauteng and surrounding areas, and is available to lead customised trips in the area. This is the facebook page for the birding interests of Etienne Marais. I've been a birder all my life and through Indicator Birding currently run tours, courses and guide in South and Southern Africa.
  • Gareth Hazell - The Lazy Birder

    I am a South African birder living in the south of Pretoria in the province of Gauteng. The reason I thought of this name for my blog is that I really love birds and birding but the thought of getting in my car and driving off at 2 or even 4a.m. to get to a prime birding site by first light is enough to make me roll over and go back to sleep. This means that most weekends I end up birding in the garden or some local park that I can get to in 5 to 10 minutes, which is not always bad…….I mean I have had species like Southern Whitefaced Owl, Little Bittern and Ovambo Sparrowhawk right in my back yard. What I hope to achieve with this blog is to share some of the birds I have seen on my weekend and holiday trips with my friends and family….
Photographers & Artists
  • Webcam - Allen BirdCam

    Welcome to our South African garden! With the Allen BirdCam you can witness many different garden birds feed all day long. The Allen BirdCam is placed in our Pretoria (Tshwane) suburban garden, and allows us to share with you all the fun of watching so many birds

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