Bird of the Year

Birds are excellent flagship species and valuable indicators of the environment as places that are rich in bird species are often abundant in other forms of biodiversity. The presence of birds indicates a healthy environment and thriving ecosystem. BirdLife South Africa conserves our country’s birds. By focusing on birds, the sites and the habitats on which they depend, BirdLife South Africa hopes to improve the quality of life for birds, for other wildlife and ultimately for people.

Each year a Bird of the Year is chosen by BirdLife South Africa.  Bird of the Year is one of BirdLife South Africa’s annual initiatives for creating awareness about birds and bird habitat conservation. Educating people is one of the key components of BirdLife South Africa’s conservation work. The aim of the project is to choose a bird species and focus education and other activities on it during the coming year and improve public awareness about the species and the need to protect the species (and related species) and its habitat.

Bird of the Year 2016

Sociable Weaver MG 4575BWHThe Bird of the Year for 2016 is the Sociable Weaver and is proudly sponsored by Builders.

The Sociable Weaver is an icon of southern Africa’s arid zones, and one of the drawcards that bring people to visit the Kalahari. They are small birds with big personalities, and a complex social life, living in colonies that can be hundreds strong. Colonies are like villages, made up of nuclear families organised into close-knit societies with strict social hierarchies.


Although Sociable Weavers are not found throughout South Africa, other weavers are more widespread, so the learning resources and materials (which can be downloaded below) are linked to weavers in general. Issues addressed include their intricate weaving skills, diversity of breeding systems – ranging from monogamy to polygamy, and from solitary to colonial breeding and information about the 17 weaver species found in South Africa.



Learning resources 

Fact sheet Sociable Weaver pdf Download (616 KB)

Lesson Plan 1 - South Africa's Weavers pdf Download  (1.02 MB)

Lesson Plan 2 - Sociable Weaver and their nests pdf Download  (1.09 MB)

Activity 1 - Crossword and Word Search pdf Download  (466 KB)

Activity 2 - Weaver Snap pdf Download (1.37 MB)

The Bird of the Year 2016 poster (pictured above) was sent out with the March/April 2016 issue of African Birdlife and is available free of charge from BirdLife South Africa's Head Office, Isdell House, in Johannesburg. CDs containing the learning resources are also available from Isdell House.  Please contact Kathleen April Okoye on 011 789 1122 or email 

Bird of the Year 2017

The Bird of the Year for 2017, announced at the BirdLife South Africa AGM on 12 March 2016, will be the Lappet-faced Vulture.

Previous birds of the year

2015 - Blue Crane
2014 - Tristan Albatross
2013 - White-winged Flufftail
2012 - African Fish Eagle
2011 - Barn Swallow
2010 - Lesser Flamingo
2009 - Cape Robin-chat
2008 - Spotted Eagle-Owl
2007 - African Penguin

For more information about the Bird of the Year initiative, please email