Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Listen for their calls nearby and from across the Sub-Saharan region.
African Birds at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
Find African birds at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park in the African aviary located on the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. Look out for a variety of species including northern carmine bee-eaters, African pygmy geese, purple glossy starlings, African jacanas and green woodhoopoes. You can also spy these winged-wonders on the Wild Africa Trek.
African Birds in the Wild
Many African bird species live south of the Sahara desert near waterways, in shrublands and in woodlands. The purple glossy starlings and northern carmine bee-eaters live across the central section of the African continent. African jacanas, African pygmy geese and green woodhoopoes inhabit all of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Threats to African Birds
Habitat loss, poisoning from pesticides and natural predators are all dangers to the long-term survival of African birds.
Disney Conservation Efforts
The Walt Disney Company is passionately committed to the protection of birds and their natural habitats. Find out what Disney is doing to help these species—and how you can help, too!
“Conservation isn’t just the business of a few people. It’s a matter that concerns all of us. If we will use our riches wisely, protect our wildlife and preserve our lakes and streams, these things will last us for generations to come.” – Walt Disney
Human activities and animal invaders must be curbed to help our feathered friends.
African birds are losing their habitat to expanding human populations, pollution, flooding and the conversion of land to grazing areas for livestock. In addition, animal invaders, like river rats, aren’t helping. River rats, called nutria, are destroying African lily pads that African birds rely on for nesting, providing resting places for their young and attracting the fish that they eat.
While natural predators like hawks, owls, driver ants and monitor lizards can decrease African bird populations, unsustainable hunting practices puts the most pressure on them. For instance, the African pygmy goose population in Madagascar is in decline as a result of these practices. In addition, humans are poisoning the bird food supply with fatal pesticides.
Disney Is Helping African Birds in the Wild
Since 1995, the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) has contributed more than $45 million dollars to support conservation programs in 115 countries. DCF has supported many projects focused on the conservation of African birds and their habitats. Conservation is a complex topic and successful conservation programs focus on the local animals and people and include research, education and community involvement. By researching avian habitats and other ecological needs, successful solutions can be found to protect African savannas and wetlands. Engaging the local community in the efforts creates stewards for the environment and increases respect towards wildlife.
Who is living in Disney’s African aviary?
Green Woodhoopoe (Phoeniculus purpureus)
Look out for their black feathers with a gloss of green, blue and purple iridescence. These curious and inquisitive birds love to explore their habitat while hunting for insects hidden in the bark of trees. Their omnivore diet consists of caterpillars, beetle larvae, insects, spiders, spider eggs, small lizards, fruits and seeds.
African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus)
Known as “lily walkers,” the African Jacana has long toes which allow them to easily walk on lily pads floating on water. These birds are found in Sub-Saharan Africa in the wetlands by slow-flowing rivers with ample floating vegetation.
Northern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicus)
Can you guess how this pretty pink bird got its name? This bird loves to eat flying insects like bees! However, in Gambia, their local name means “cousin to the fire,” which comes from the bird’s unique ability to sit near fire and snatch bugs as they flee from the flames. They can even remove bee stingers with their bill so they don’t get stung while eating them. Even more impressive, they can do this while flying!
Purple Glossy Starling (Lamprotornis purpureus)
These colorful birds will catch your eye with their shimmering feathers that appear purple or blue, depending on the light. Their wings are glossy golden-green and they have large, conspicuous, orange eyes. They eat a variety of fruit and are particularly partial to wild figs.
African Pygmy Goose (Nettapus auritus)
These birds live in areas that have an ample supply of water lily seeds, their main food source. They are exceptional divers and use this skill while foraging for water lilies and evading predators.
Discover how they get their unique color and use special skills to survive.
Shimmer and Shine
Iridescent colored feathers make some birds look quite striking. How do they get that color? It’s produced by air pockets in their feathers and the incoming reflective light—it's just the wonders of physics.
This is a form of personal grooming used by birds to remove dust, dirt and possible parasites from their feathers. During the preening process, they spread their natural oils all over their feathers to make them water resistant and align each feather into optimal position.
When you’re faced with many predators, sometimes you need to go into “combat mode” to evade predators. To hide, the African jacanas can turn into a snorkeler. They’ll stay submerged for extended bouts with only the tip of their bill above the water acting like a snorkel. African pygmy geese escape danger by acting like a fish and diving deep into the water. Green woodhoopoes give their predators a good dose of musky odor to avoid being eaten.
Sounding the Alarm
Hear an accelerating “kuk-uk-uk-uk” cackling call from the green woodhoopoes, a loud and deep throaty “tunk-trunk” from the northern carmine bee-eaters and a soft whistling “choo-choo pee-wee” from the African pygmy geese. These are just a few of the alarm calls between birds to signal when predators are nearby.
What can one person or family do to protect African birds and their habitats? A lot more than you think!
Recycle and buy “recycled.” By recycling paper and aluminum and buying products made with recycled materials, you can reduce the pressure on habitats in Africa and around the world.
Many pesticides are harmful to birds and the environment. Look for environmentally-friendly ways to control pests at home. When pesticides are used at home, be sure to use them as directed and not broadcast them at random.
Take a field guide with you to learn about birds and why they are important. Invite your friends and family to join you.
Many conservation organizations work to protect nature and the animals that live there. Support or donate to a conservation organization, like the Disney Conservation Fund, to make a difference for animals around the world.
Visit the Websites Below
The Walt Disney Company is committed to protecting the planet and using resources wisely. We conserve nature and inspire kids and families to join us in caring for the planet. Explore the website pages below to see how Disney is helping to make the world a better place—and learn about the many creative ways you can make a difference, too!
“Disney’s Animal Kingdom is designed to inspire and motivate. When some Guest’s leave here, they go back into the world and do something great for the environment, and continue to inspire others to do something great for our planet.” – Djuan Rivers, VP Disney’s Animal Kingdom park