Birding Safari In Kenya : A Complete Guide To The Kenya Birding Safari : Kenya, despite being known as Africa’s best safari destination for wildlife safari experiences and beach vocations, is also a hidden and undiscovered paradise for bird-watching safaris. Kenya is best known for its famous great wildebeest migrations in the Masai Mara national reserve, big fives and the breathtaking scenery of Mount Kilimanjaro in the Amboseli national park, and beach vocations in Mombasa and Diani beaches. When exploring this beautiful country, keep in mind that there are many bird spices to look out for in order to make your safari experience more memorable.

Kenya is a prime destination for a birdwatching holiday at any time of year, and any bird lover who is more interested in seeing birds during their African safari should prioritize Kenya and its neighbor Tanzania. Kenya’s vast geographical range provides a diverse range of climates and landscapes, resulting in the second-highest number of species in Africa. Kenya holds the world record for the longest ‘bird watch,’ with 342 species seen in 24 hours!

Many Palearctic migrants visit Kenya’s marine and inland shorelines between October and February. During this time, many swallows, terns, and waders can be found, while weavers and bishops are in breeding plumage, and many Southern African migrants visit.

The Maasai Mara is a great place to see the rosy-throated longclaw and magpie shrike; the Samburu is a great place to see the uncommon shining sunbird and pink-breasted lark; and Nairobi is a great place to see the northern pied babbler and Pangani longclaw. The Tara River Cisticola, Aberdare Cisticola, Hinde’s pied-babbler, William’s lark, Sharpe’s pipit, and Clarke’s weaver are just a few of Kenya’s endemic species. A trip to Kenya for birdwatching is very rewarding because of the diverse range of habitats that support the large diversity of bird species that inhabit the country.


Kenya has a tropical climate due to its proximity to the equator. The coast is hot and humid, the interior is temperate, and the north and northeast are extremely dry. The hottest months in Kenya, known as “summer,” last from December to March. The coastal areas are tropical, with especially high humidity in April and May, but this is mitigated by strong winds. The lowlands are hot but mostly dry, whereas the highlands have four seasons. Because of its altitude, Nairobi has a very pleasant climate all year. Temperatures near Lake Victoria are much higher, and rainfall can be heavy.


Only 15 countries in the world have more than 1000 bird species, and Kenya is one of them. Kenya actually has 1,154 species that have been recorded, which places it third in Africa behind Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Kenya has a large variety of bird species because of its diverse geography. Kenya’s geographic variations result in a variety of landscapes and climates, rising from sea level to over 1500 meters (about 4921 feet) before descending into the Great Rift Valley. In addition to the open savannah grasslands of the Masai Mara National Reserve, the coastal forests of Arabuko-Sokoke, mangrove swamps, wetland areas, and lakes, these diverse biomes also include the mountain habitats of Mt. Kenya and more arid desert scrub to the north in Samburu and around Lake Turkana.

It is possible to think of Kenya as a mosaic of different habitats. These abundant biomes provide an abundance of food that can sustain a sizable avifauna (bird) population. Over 1100 species have been recorded in Kenya; these include year-round residents, endemic birds, and transient species.

Of the more than 1100 birds that can be seen in Kenya, 11 are endemic, 800 or more are year-round residents, 170 are migrants from Europe and Asia, and about 60 are from within Africa. The sought-after endemic and near-endemic species can typically be found with a little luck. Around September, the Palearctic migrants arrive, and they stay until April. Kenya is one of the best birding destinations in the world, so it should come as no surprise.

The overwhelming megafauna that one must navigate around in order to see the birds is the only drawback to birding safari in Kenya. A variety of African safari animals, including elephants, lions, giraffes, foxes, servals, elands, buffalo, and others, can prove to be a real distraction.


These locations should be on your travel itinerary if you’re looking for the best spots to see some of Kenya’s rare bird species.

  1. Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is one of the most unique parks in the world located within the city. It is the only wildlife park located inside a capital city and is home to numerous animals, including the Big 5, as well as more than 500 different bird species. Open grasslands, lightly wooded plains, rocky valleys, seasonally wet areas, dams, rivers, and streams with trees lining them, and montane forests are just a few of the diverse habitats found in the park. Thus, receiving a species list of more than 200 species in a single day is not unusual.

Many seed-eating birds, including yellow bishops, orange-breasted waxbills, black-cheeked waxbills, and the near-endemic Jackson’s widowbird, can be found in the savannah grasslands. Shelley’s Francolins, Kori Bustards, Secretary Birds, Black-shouldered Kites, and roughly ten species of Cisticola are among the additional birds that can be expected.

 Numerous water birds, such as Grey Herons, African Darters, African Water Rail, Saddle-billed, Yellow-billed, and Marabou Storks, can be found in large numbers in the dams and seasonal wetlands. The elusive African finfoot can also be found in rivers and streams. Additionally, Palearctic migrant species like Eurasian Bee-eaters, Blackcaps, Common Nightingales, Upcher’s, and Willow Warblers thrive in the montane forest.

  1. Kenya National Park

The highest mountain in Kenya, Mount Kenya, is also arguably the most challenging to climb. But Mount Kenya is also home to a wide range of species found in montane forests and moorlands. Although the forests on the mountain’s slopes are home to the most birds, it’s sometimes easier to hear than see the shy forest birds.

Olive Ibis, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Black-fronted Bushshrike, Montane White-Eye, Bar-tailed Trogon, Jackson’s Francolin, Mountain Buzzard, and Abbot’s Starling are just a few of the elusive birds that love the cold montane forests.

As you progress upward, you will come to the bamboo zone, which is home to a wide variety of species, including Oriole Finch, Thick-billed Seedeater, White-starred Robins, Mountain and Slender-billed Greenbuls, and White-headed Woodhoopoes.

You enter the land of sunbirds, including the Northern and Eastern Double-collared, Tacazze, Malachite, Scarlet-tufted, and Golden-winged Sunbirds, after leaving the bamboo zone. Also easy to see on the moors are Moorland Chat and White-napped Ravens. It’s possible, with a lot of luck, to see a bearded vulture, which many claim has vanished from Mount Kenya.

  1. Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves

Samburu warriors and a wide variety of wildlife, including the endangered Grevy’s Zebra, Reticulated Giraffes, and even Black Leopards, can be found in the semi-arid regions of Samburu. But due to its arid climate, this region is also home to 400 different species of birds. These parks’ Ewaso Nyiro River serves as a crucial source of precious water, and numerous birds and other animals are known to frequent the river throughout the day.

 A large portion of the Samburu region is covered in acacia bushland, where it is common to see birds like Pygmy falcons, White-headed Buffalo Weavers, Magpie Starlings, Somali Bee-eaters, Vulturine Guineafowl, Donaldson Smith’s Sparrow-weavers, Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbills, and the tiny Yellow-vented Eremomela.

The majority of the lodges in the park have well-kept gardens, which can serve as a draw for nearby birds like Abyssinian Scimitarbills, Black-capped Social Weavers, Black-throated Barbets, Black-bellied Sunbirds, and occasionally Shining Sunbirds.

Big raptors like Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Martial Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, Egyptian, Lappet-faced, and White-headed Vultures can all be seen roosting on the tall trees in the riverine woodland along the Ewaso Nyiro River. Orange-bellied Parrots, Lesser-masked Weavers, and Scaly-throated Honeyguides are smaller birds that live in the woodland.

Waterbirds like African Spoonbills, Water Thick-knees, Reed Cormorants, African Darters, and numerous waders like Wood Sandpipers, Three-banded, Little-ringed, and Kittilitz Plovers are drawn to the main river and its springs.

  1. Lake Naivasha

One of the freshwater lakes along the rift valley is Lake Naivasha. It is renowned in the area for having an enormous number of waterbirds. Yellow fever trees that line the lake’s edges are home to a wide range of unique birds and free-ranging wildlife.

The lake itself is home to a large number of waterfowl, including Great White and Pink-Backed Pelicans, Reed and Great Cormorants, African Darters, Yellow-billed Ducks, Red-billed and Hottentot Teals, Red-knobbed Coots, Black and Grey Herons, Great White, Little, and Cattle Egrets, African Spoonbills, African Skimmers, Grey-hooded, and Lesser Black-backed to name a few.

White-fronted Bee-eaters, Wahlberg’s Honeybirds, Black-lored and Arrow-marked Babblers, Variable Sunbirds, Green Woodhoopoes, African Grey, Cardinal, and Nubian Woodpeckers can all be found in the woodlands that surround the lakes.

  1. Kinangop Plateau

The floor of the rift valley abruptly rises to form the Kinangop plateau. Despite not being a protected park or reserve, this area is home to many unique birds, including the endangered Sharpe’s Longclaw.

The mile-long tussock grasslands have been converted to farms, but the birds can still be seen perching on these man-made habitats. Sharpe’s Longclaw, Rufous-napped and Red-capped Larks, Cape Rook, Capped Wheatear, Long-tailed and Jackson’s Widowbirds, Hunter’s, Leveillants, and Stout Cisticolas, Red-throated Wryneck, and Augur Buzzards are some of the birds that frequent these grasslands and farmlands.

Birding Safari In Kenya
Capped Wheatear

Marshes and lily ponds with seasonal lilies in the grasslands are home to elusive Lesser Jacanas, Glossy Ibis, Yellow-crowned Bishops, and Grey-crowned Cranes. Wet marshes are also a favorite habitat for migrant harriers like the Western Marsh, Pallid, and Montagu’s Harriers.


Kenya has a fantastic bird population all year. Avid birders should go between November and April when both the Palaearctic and intra-African migrants are in the Rift Valley, which is a haven for safaris, and along the Kenyan coast. Local bishops and weavers will be at their most colorful in breeding plumage from June to July. The dry season (safari high season) is the best time to combine a Kenya wildlife safari with a birdwatching excursion.


  • Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania, b y Dale A. Zimmerman
  • East Africa Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda (Wildlife and Nature Identification) by James Kavanagh
  • Pocket Guide: Birds of East Africa by Dave Richards


  • A regular Kenya safari and a birding safari are very similar. It’s important to pack wisely, taking into account the weather and the baggage allowance.
  • Comfortable, natural-colored clothing is essential. Avoid using bold colors like black and white. Loud colors during the daytime startle animals and attract insects, while black gets hot at night and attracts mosquitoes. White also gets dirty quickly.
  • If you aren’t going on any hikes, you must wear comfortable walking shoes. Running shoes or sneakers should be suitable for light exploration and walking.
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent are essential additions, especially if you intend to spend a lot of time in the bush searching for elusive Kenyan birds.
  • Binoculars, a spotting telescope, a good bird book, and a sense of humor are all necessary pieces of equipment for Kenya birding safari.


  • William’s Lark (Mirafra williamsi)
  • Hinde’s Babbler (Turdoides hindei)
  • Taita Thrush (Turdus helleri)
  • Taita Apalis (Apalis fuscigularis)
  • Taita white-eye (Zosterops poliogaster)
  • Kulal white-eye (Zosterops kulalensis)
  • Tana River Cisticola (Cisticola restrictus)
  • Aberdare Cisticola (Cisticola Aberdare)
  • Clarke’s Weaver (Ploceus golandi),
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