This page provides a summary of the African Bird Club, its aims, what it does, how it is managed and the benefits to you of membership or sponsorship. Special thanks are extended to the photographers, artists and writers who contribute their work freely to African Bird Club publications and its website.
15 years of the African Bird Club
You can download this article titled 15 years of the African Bird Club which was written by Club Chairman Keith Betton and printed in BirdLife International Africa Newsletter 12.1 in December 2009.
The African Bird Club is a UK registered charity which is managed on a voluntary basis by a Council of trustees. The Club was formed in 1994 following a proposal by a number of people with a common interest in African ornithology.
The Club covers the ornithology of the following geographic region:
- Continental Africa
- Indian Ocean islands west of 80° East, e.g. Madagascar, Mascarene islands and Socotra
- Atlantic Ocean on or east of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, e.g. Tristan da Cunha group, Azores and Canaries.
About a quarter of the world's bird species, more than 2500, have been recorded in this region, with 332 included on BirdLife International’s Red Data species list for 2011, the most recent summary of the world's threatened and near-threatened species.
The aims of the Club are to:
- provide a worldwide focus for African ornithology
- raise money to support conservation projects in Africa through the Conservation Fund
- encourage an interest in the conservation of the birds of the region
- liaise with and promote the work of existing regional societies
- publish a twice-yearly colour bulletin
- encourage observers to visit lesser known areas of the region, and search for and study globally threatened and near-threatened species.
African Green Broadbill
Code of Practice
The ABC's Code of Practice for Birders sets out five key principles that all Members should follow wherever they are birdwatching. By following the Code, leading by example and sensitively challenging the minority of birders, photographers and guides who behave inappropriately, you will be helping promote responsible birding that will ultimately help protect the birds, their habitats and benefit local people.
This Code of Practice is endorsed by the African Bird Club (ABC), the Neotropical Bird Club (NBC), the Oriental Bird Club (OBC), and the Ornithological Society of the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia (OSME) and is resident on the Clubs' websites. Wording may vary in detail according to different regional geography of the Clubs concerned but the key underlying principle is consistent - the welfare of the birds comes first.
Five key Principles
- The interests of the birds come first
- Be an ambassador for ABC when birding abroad
- Show respect for habitats and the environment
- Show respect for local laws and customs
- Think about the interests of wildlife and local people before passing on news of a rare bird, especially during the breeding season
Membership is open to all and there are over 1,000 members of the Club at present. The benefits of membership are:
- free copies of the bulletin
- an information service to help with trips, information about species, places and photographic identification
- an active e-mail discussion group
- a good selection of ABC clothing, books and trip reports are available for purchase along with past issues of bulletins. Sales proceeds go straight to supporting conservation projects in Africa.
Members are resident in many countries of the world and form part of a community of people with a common interest in the birds of Africa and their conservation. The cost of membership and payment options can be found on the membership page of this website.
The Club recognises the importance of extending membership as widely as possible in Africa but a Club based in Europe with European costs may be beyond the means of many potential African members. A supporting membership scheme exists therefore in order that members can pay a special rate which covers their own subscription and supports a member in Africa.
The Club's sponsors support its conservation efforts through their subscriptions and donations. Three tiers of sponsorship are available: Gold; Silver and Bronze.The benefits of sponsorship depend on the tier chosen but can include the following:
- free copies of the bulletin
- website advertising
- bulletin advertising
- inclusion in the tour operators on our country resource pages on the website
- opportunities to sponsor specific conservation projects
- use of the ABC logo
The Bulletin of the Club is produced twice yearly in March and September and is sent to all members and sponsors. The content is very varied but always includes a round-up of the latest birding and conservation news from Africa, Club news, recent sightings as well as major feature articles on birding, identification, conservation, research and guides to top birding sites in Africa. The 2 high quality colour bulletins in 2010 for example contained a total of 272 pages with 31 feature articles. An Editorial Board is responsible for Bulletin content and production.
The Club’s conservation programme supports small to medium sized conservation projects in Africa. Since it began in 1996, it has supported a wide variety of projects including training courses, research into threatened species and promotion and awareness of conservation issues in Africa.
Funds are raised currently from sales, donations and corporate sponsorship. The current budget stands at over £10,000 per annum and the Club welcomes applications for conservation awards from individuals or institutions up to maximum of £2000. The total funds made available for conservation projects stands at over £260,000 since the beginning of the programme.
The Club has a line of branded merchandise which is sold at meetings and some via its website. The items include T-shirts, mugs, back issues of bulletins and trip reports. All profits from these sales go towards the Club conservation fund. In addition, the Club has an arrangement with WildSounds whereby donations are received for items sold via the Club website and at meetings.
The Club has representatives in 37 countries. The major role of the representatives is to recruit new members; to publicise the Club at meetings and events in their country of residence; to set up and manage schemes to enable their fellow nationals to pay subscriptions in local currency; to organise meetings and excursions for locally-resident Club members; and to market Club merchandise and publications.
The Club holds a UK Meeting and Annual General Meeting in the first quarter of each year attended by between 50 and 100 people. The UK Meeting includes presentations on topics of interest such as migration, birding in countries and latest species information.
The AGM comprises a formal agenda which includes the Chairman’s report, the Treasurer’s presentation of the accounts and the election of Council members. The meeting and AGM are open to members and non-members and admission is free but a donation is suggested for non-members.
Merchandise is available for purchase from the Club, and books and sound recording equipment for purchase from WildSounds. The Club has a stand at the annual British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water. About a quarter of our UK-resident members and a small number of overseas members visit the stand. The stand provides an opportunity for members to choose from our range of Club merchandise, to exchange views on the Club’s activities and to get to know the Council and their fellow members. In our launch year, 1994, we recruited 83 new members and most years since then have produced 15-20 new members as well as several renewals. Members can collect their September bulletin at the stand.
Five Pan-African Ornithological Congresses have taken place since the Club was founded - the 9th PAOC in Ghana in 1996, the 10th PAOC in Uganda in 2000, the 11th PAOC in Tunisia in 2004, the 12th PAOC in South Africa in 2008 and the 13th in Tanzania in 2012. The Club has been represented by a member of Council at each Congress and has made significant donations to these events.
As required by the Constitution, all trustees of the Club are elected or re-elected at every Annual General Meeting. Council members serve for no longer than four consecutive years unless they are to become or to continue as an Executive Officer of the Club. The Council has the power to co-opt new members at any time subject to confirmation at the following Annual General Meeting.
The Executive Officer positions are Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary. Other positions currently resourced are Country Representatives Coordinator, Corporate Sponsorship Officer, Membership Secretary and Chairman of the Conservation Committee.
Council meets three times per annum and is the main decision-making forum of the Club. The purpose of each meeting is to review progress since the previous meeting and to set policy, constraints and direction for the next period. Several specific areas of activity are considered at each meeting of Council members: the report of the Chairman of the Conservation Committee which manages the conservation programme; the report of the Bulletin Editorial Board which oversees the content and production of the bulletin; the report of the Treasurer; the report of the Membership Secretary; reports from individual Council members with specific areas of responsibility such as sponsorship, website development and sales. Individual Council members have day to day decision making authority within their allocated areas of responsibility and within the policies and constraints specified at the meeting of Council.
The fact that you have read this page means that you have already discovered the Club website and can find your way around it. ‘About ABC’ has provided a summary of the Club, its aims, what it does, how it is managed and the benefits to you of membership or sponsorship.
You may already have seen some of the wealth of information which is available to you on the rest of the website. There is information about each of the Bulletins and selected articles from past bulletins. You can find information about birding in every country within the Club’s region. There are checklists and links to our sister sites with photographs and sounds of African birds. In all, the site has over 1,300 pages of detailed information.
Our aim is quite simple: to make this the premier and most visited site for all things ornithological in Africa.
Website terms and conditions of use
This website is operated by the African Bird Club (registered charity number 1053920) whose registered office is
African Bird Club,
c/o BirdLife International
The David Attenborough Building
The ABC can be contacted by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +44 (0) 20 8650 3458.
The information in this website is given in good faith and for general information and interest only. It is subject to change without notice. ABC is not responsible for any inaccuracies and makes no representation and gives no warranty as to its accuracy. The information in this website should not be relied on and does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation. By using this website you confirm that you have not relied on any such information. Any arrangements made between you and any third party named or referred to on the website are entirely at your sole risk and responsibility.
A range of goods and services are available for purchase via our online shop.
Membership subscriptions can be paid for one, two or three calendar years. There is also a Life Membership scheme. Sponsorship is paid annually. The costs of Membership and Sponsorship are given in the relevant sections of the online shop.
Goods for sale include bulletins, paintings, trip reports, greetings card and DVDs.
Payment for membership, sponsorship and other goods online can be made by credit and debit card and all payments are handled through a secure payments system.
We aim to deliver any goods ordered through this website to the address given on your order within 30 days of receipt, but cannot give an exact delivery date. If you have not received the goods within 30 days or are dissatisfied with them for any reason, you may cancel your order and we will refund any money paid by you. The cost of delivery of the goods via postal services is included as part of your order.
All items purchased via this website are priced in £UK (pounds sterling).
We are unaware of any export restrictions.