Birding in Kenya


Kenya is best known as a safari destination for viewing big mammals, However, birding is also spectacular activity to explore.

Kenya has a unique and diverse array of habitat types, ranging from the snow-capped mountains at about 5000 meters above sea level, tropical lowlands, highland forests, vast savannas, and rolling plains and grasslands to the coastal dry forests and the shores of the Indian Ocean.

With 1100 bird species, including more than 20 endemics and near-endemics, and lots of easy open-country birding and big game, Kenya is simply a must-do birding destination.  it’s possible to see over 600 species on a single tour dependent on the number of days. The varied geography of Kenya is the reason for such species diversity, and a basic knowledge of its geography is helpful in understanding the birding opportunities.

Throughout Kenya you will experience some fantastic birding and excellent large game viewing, so there will always be something to draw the eye. You get a chance to walk in the forests and drive among the many large game animals that the plains of east Africa are famous for.

Unsurpassed in its combined wealth of bird life and mammal spectacle; includes Mt. Kenya, the arid north, Rift Valley lakes, Kakamega Forest and the far west, Masai Mara, Tsavo and the Taita Hills, and the coast.

There is a big list of available birds to glimpse, the most obvious are birds of the open savanna such as Common Ostrich, bustards, and Secretary-bird and the astounding concentrations of flamingos on soda lakes, especially Lake Nakuru. Less obvious are the lucky chances to photograph Bateleur, African Fish-Eagle, and the many other raptors of open country. The gaudy displays of whydahs and widowbirds during mating season offer spectacular photo opportunities. Many bird species such as fiscals and weavers of open country are readily photographed. With patience it’s also possible to photograph birds of the Kakamega Forest and other forested habitats. It’s actually quite surprising how many opportunities arise to photograph birds in addition to mammals while on safari.

See also Hartlaub’s Turacos and flocks of Red-fronted Parrots from a lodge rooftop set within montane forest–while sunlight dances on snow-capped Mount Kenya beyond. Or to slowly work the tracks in arid Samburuland, watching for Vulturine Guineafowl, Martial Eagle, coursers, sandgrouse, bee-eaters, and bushshrikes. To look out at dawn over Lake Nakuru, speckled with nearly a million flamingos, or to view a Bristle-crowned Starling or Hemprich’s Hornbill at the base of the lofty cliffs of the Great Rift Valley. From tiny wattle-eyes and fanciful sunbirds in the rainforest at Kakamega to Secretary-birds foraging among the ungulates on the open plains of Masai Mara–with Lions or Cheetah never far away. We also include a visit to the Taita Hills for the rare endemic Taita Thrush, and to the coast where a whole array of barbets, woodpeckers, thrushes, flycatchers, batises, helmet-shrikes, and sunbirds await you. Coastal forests at Arabuko-Sokoke (with Sokoke Scops Owl and Fischer’s Turaco), highland grasslands at Aberdares and Kinangop (with Aberdare Cisticolaand Sharpe’s Longclaw), highland forests at Taita Hills, Aberdares, Gatamaiyu and Mt Kenya (with Taita Apalis, Abbot’s Starling and Hartlaub’s Turaco), tropical forest at Kakamega (with Turner’s Eremomela and Blue-headed Bee-eater), deserts at Marsabit (with Masked Lark, William’s Lark and Heuglin’s Bustard) and savannas at Tsavo East and Tsavo West, Lake Baringo, Buffalo Springs and Masaai Mara (with a whole host of species).
East Africa is one of the wonders of the world. Not only are the diversity and abundance of large mammals legendary, but the birding in this region is one of the world’s richest.