Bird watching offers birding enthusiasts a unique experience. Kenya holds some remarkable birding sights that you have to see them to believe. Kenya has one of the richest avifaunas in Africa with around 1090 bird species recorded.
At least eight of these are national endemics. Around 170 species of Kenya’s bird’s species are Pale-arctic migrants (11 species of them with a local breeding population too), mainly from eastern Europe, Russia, the middle East and Siberia.
From the world’s biggest bird, the Ostrich, to spectacular flamingos that congregate in their millions at the various Lakes of the Great Rift Valley and camouflage them in pink. Kenya’s birding is one of the best in the world. It is not unusual for birding trips to record 300-600 different varieties on a short trip or to record more than 120 at a particular site on a single day!
Kenya is a must visit African country and one of Africa’s best-kept wildlife secrets and has wonderful birding hot-spots, including Meru National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Lake Nakuru, Lake Baringo, Lake Naivasha Masai Mara National Reserve, and Kakamega Forest just to name but a few.
This habitats that include forest, grassland, bushland, wetland, barren land is haven for avid birders with over 400 species of African birds including rare sightings such as lizard buzzard and brown snake eagle, whole bunch of unique birds are only found here in Kenya.
Between October and February many palearctic migrants come to Kenya’s marine and inland shorelines. Many swallows, terns and waders will be found during this time; whilst between June and July weavers and bishops are in breeding plumage and many Southern African migrants visit.
The variety of birds in Kenya is made possible by the favorable climate, diverse habitats and geographical features that make it a suitable migratory route for birds. Even without venturing outside Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, more than 600 resident and migratory bird species are found; more than in any other capital city, and more than in most countries. Bird watching is good all year round in Kenya.
To see Kenya’s rarest, indigenous and unfortunately endangered birds, the bird enthusiast needs to seek out forests or highland grasslands tucked away amongst various farmlands. Arabuko-Sokoke Forest near Malindi, tops the list, with the six threatened bird species of the Sokoke Scops Owl, Sokoke Pipit, Spotted Ground Thrush, East Coast Akalat, Amani Sunbird and Clarke’s Weaver.
Kenya’s national parks make excellent centres for bird watching in Kenya – the Maasai Mara for the rosy-throated longclaw and magpie shrike; the Samburu for the rare shining sunbird and pink breasted lark; and Nairobi for the northern pied-babbler and Pangani longclaw. Kenya’ handful of endemics include the Tara River cisticola, the Aberdare cisticola; Hinde’s pied-babbler; William’s lark; Sharpe’s pipit; and Clarke’s weaver.
Some other areas including the forest “islands” at the top of the Taita Hills, near Voi, is home to the beautiful but critically endangered Taita Thrush and Taita Apalis, as well as the endangered Taita White-eye.
In western Kenya, Kakamega Forest is a little patch of Guineo-Congolian rainforest in Kenya. Among the many rainforest species found are spectacular Turacos and Hornbills, and the tiny, endangered Turner’s Eremomela.
The scarce and threatened Papyrus Yellow Warbler is found in papyrus swamps on the shores of Lake Victoria, alongside the Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler and Papyrus Canary, all papyrus endemics.
In the northern semi arid areas notable species recorded include arid endemics such as Donaldson-Smith’s Sparrow Weaver, Shining Sunbird and the Bristle Crowned Starling, many Vulturine Guinea fowl, several Hornbill species, Somali Ostrich and rare species such as the Taita Falcon, migratory Kestrels and William’s Lark.
Mt Kenya and its surrounding forests are good birding country. Notable species recorded here include the Lesser Kestrel, Jackson’s Widowbird, Abbots Starling, Jackson’s Francolin, Hunter’s Cisticola, the Crowned Eagle, African Grass Owl and Cape Eagle Owl.
Checklist of Endemic Bird Species in kenya;
Pternistis jacksoni (Galliformes Phasianidae) Jackson’s Francolin
Lybius senex (Piciformes Lybiidae) Brown-and-white Barbet
Mirafra williamsi (Passeriformes Alaudidae) Williams’s Lark
Apalis fuscigularis (Passeriformes Cisticolidae) Taita Apalis
Cisticola restrictus (Passeriformes Cisticolidae) Tana River Cisticola
Cisticola aberdare (Passeriformes Cisticolidae) Aberdare Cisticola
Zosterops kulalensis (Passeriformes Zosteropidae) Kulal White-eye
Zosterops kikuyuensis (Passeriformes Zosteropidae) Kikuyu White-eye
Zosterops silvanus (Passeriformes Zosteropidae) Taita White-eye
Turdoides hindei (Passeriformes Leiotrichidae) Hinde’s Babbler
Turdus helleri (Passeriformes Turdidae) Taita Thrush
Ploceus golandi (Passeriformes Ploceidae) Clarke’s Weaver
Macronyx sharpei (Passeriformes Motacillidae) Sharpe’s Longclaw