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Submit a rarity

BirdLife South Africa Rarities Committee

From time to time, birders across Southern Africa report sightings of very exciting, rare and unusual bird. In order to ensure the accuracy of these sightings, as well as to ensure the sighting is not being confused with a potentially more common species, the BirdLife South Africa Rarities Committee was set up to adjudicate sightings of rare birds in the region.

How to submit a rarity sighting?

Observers are encouraged to submit records as soon as possible after the observation either on paper or preferably electronically. Records should be submitted on the official form. Download here. Consideration by the Committee usually takes 4 to 6 months or longer if re-circulation is necessary. Therefore prompt submission is essential.

Photographs are useful for the assessment and observers are therefore strongly encouraged to photograph their observations and to photograph the bird from as many angles as possible. Failing that, sketches can be included (no matter how poor artistically.) We also encourage the submission of original field notes as these are invaluable in assessment of a rarity. Please include as much detail as possible relating to the following aspects of the observation:

  • Habitat
  • The bird behaviour
  • Features of the plumage
  • Size relative to common birds
  • Bill structure
  • Flight pattern
  • Bare part colouration
  • Flight pattern
  • Call

Observers are encouraged to provide as much information as possible. Photographs alone may not always fulfil the requirement so detailed descriptions are important.

Records should be submitted to or for more online resources and information on rare bird sightings in South Africa click here.

If there is good reason for confidentiality over site and/or observers' names this should be requested when the record is submitted.

icon Download a list of South Africa rarities (33.38 kB)

icon BirdLife South Africa Rarities Committee submission form (120 kB)

icon BirdLife South Africa Rarities Committee submission form (34.73 kB)

icon BirdLife South Africa Rarities Committee constitution (32.74 kB)