African Finfoot

African Finfoot


The African Finfoot is a distinctive aquatic bird that is generally known as secretive and shy. Its notable appearance and surreptitious habits mean it is highly sought after by birders. Junior can help you connect with this elusive bird.


The African Finfoot is a water bird that can be found in the Northern part of South Africa, from the Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga and all along the coast line from the border with Mozambique down through Kwazulu Natal all the way to the Eastern Cape Coast. It lives in slow moving streams and is known for its habit of hiding under overhanging branches and disappearing before it can be identified, which can make populations and distributions difficult to know exactly - Finfoots have even been officially sighted in parks in Central Gauteng, all the way to the Botswana border on the edge of the Kalahari!.

Where To Find

Your best bet when looking for the African Finfoot is to creep quietly around river shorelines, being careful not to startle anything swimming or sitting under any overhanging plants. The finfoot will rarely go out into open water and will quickly hide in thick riverside vegetation. The estuaries areas in the Amatikulu and Umlalazi Nature reserves have perfect opportunities for this that can be visited where you can wait around undisturbed hunting for this rare sighting.

How To Id

If you are lucky enough to get a clear look at the African Finfoot, its striking orange beak and the stripe along its neck are very distinctive. More likely, you will see a bird shaped like a cormorant swimming near the side of slow-moving water disappear onto land into the riverside vegetation in which case you are looking for the orange beak and bright orange legs that give him away.

Conservation Status

The African Finfoot is listed as Vulnerable due to the clearing of riverside vegetation and various other human effects on rivers and water bodies in South Africa. They are doing well in various protected areas, so the situation is not dire, but their shyness and secrecy make them very difficult to see nevertheless.

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While sometimes referred to as common, the finfoot is an elusive bogey-bird for many. Junior Gabela has in-depth knowledge of these birds’ habits, behaviours and preferred nesting sites - so if you are looking to add this bird to your list, or just want a better look, be sure to add this bird to your wishlist when making a booking.