Why Kenya is a birding Paradise

Whether you are an avid birder or you like sighting bird scenes as you continue with your day game drives Kenya is one of Africa best choice to consider. In this guide we shall cover some of the reason you should consider biding in Kenya and all the country has to offer.

1.      A longlist of species

Kenya has 1080 recorded bird species. This means that you can find near half of Africa’s 2477 avian species in the country. At least 800 species are native to the sahara region meaning that the country is a lively birding destination all year round. In the country there are 8 endemic bird areas which are refuge for 8 restricted range species which include Sokoke scops owl and clarke’s weavers common in the Kenyan coast, Taita apalis, Taita thrush and Taita White-eye in Taita hills indigenous forest, Chapin’s Flycatcher in Kakamega tropical rainforest and jackson’s windowbird in Masai Mara savannah. There are total 46 globally threatened species in the country. For a more quality birding safari your tour should be able to include some of the restricted range bird areas in the country. These arte places where you are guaranteed to view certain birds species in highly significant numbers.

2.      Its water bird paradise

If you are aquatic bird lover Kenya should be your favorite birding spot in Africa. With the country cut across by the great rift valley, the country has several major soda water pans that are thriving ground for flamingos and other aqua birds that habit in saline environment. The three lakes of the central rift valley- Bogoria, Nakuru and Elementaita- are some of the world’s dazzling flamingo spots with over 2 million flamingos migrating between the 3 bodies in search for dead blue algae which comprises their diet. The presence of the 3 permanent lakes make Kenya an all year round flamingo destination unlike Tanzania which has most of its flamingo spots drying up in the dry season. Kenya is also a popular destination for sighting wading birds and waterfowls. There are about 170 water bird species in the country mostly ducks and wading birds that depends on the great rift lakes shoreline for feeding. Some of the most common aquatic birds include: heron, storks and waterfowls varieties.

3.      It is a wintering destination for the palearctic species

Each year between November and April, over 2 billion mostly birds of perching habitats migrate to sub Saharan Africa to escape the scathing winter. The suez canal fly way that goes to the southern Africa’s passes through Kenya. Most of the species just pass through Kenya heading south and will be spotted in various stopovers in October and November when moving southwards and March and April on return journey from the cooler south. However, some duck and wading birds that breeds in Europe are common sights in the country throughout the migration season mainly attracted by the diet rich shorelines of the great rift valley and various local riparian areas. Some destinations like Ngulia hills in Tsavo west national park are incredibly ornithological sites for birds sighting birds moving southwards.  

Besides the Eurasian migration, a number of bird  species migrate to Kenya from other parts of Africa mainly following rain patterns in foray for food or for breeding. A good example is the predatory black kite (hawk) come from the North for breeding.

4.      A range of ecosystems and mini ecosystems

Kenya boost a range of climate and regional habitats are hosting a unique array of avian species. The ecological areas includes:

  • Lowland habitats. These encompasses the coastal region mainly Arabuko Sokoke which is the largest and most significant forest in the Kenyan coast  the forest is a well-known refuge for 6 globally threatened bird species among them Sokoke pipit, amani sunbird,  Spotted Ground Thrush, Clarke’s Weaver, Sokoke Scops Owl and East Coast Akalat.
  • Savannah grasslands. This is the most expansive habitat encompassing most of Kenya’s bush destinations including large swathes in Masai Mara, Nairobi, lake Nakuru and Amboseli which are the leading safari destinations. Some of the most common species in this category are Ostriches, secretary birds and kori bastards.
  • Mountain forest. This is majorly forest birds in mt Kenya, aberdare ranges and other smaller mountain areas like Kilimambogo near Nairobi. These species include……….
  • Water birds. These are birds in various lakes, water pans and swampy areas.

Importantly, some wilderness in Kenya boost a range of ecosystems that will give you a perfect highlight of birdlife in different habitat zones. The most diverse forests are Masai Mara, Amboseli and Tsavo parks which boost large swathes of savannah plains merged with sections of riverine forest and wetlands.

5.      Strategic birders lodges

Nothing excites a bird lover than staying in a lodge/ camp where you can enjoy persistent sounds and sights of birds within the precincts of the facilities. These facilities are strategically in areas with ornithological significance like:

  • Hills along major migratory birds fly ways
  • Shorelines of the great rift valley lakes
  • Riverine forest
  • Near wetlands i.e marshes and ox-bow floodplains. `

Birding in these facilities can be achieved by just relaxing in a private lounge or going for a 20 – 45 minutes walk within in the surrounding. Such lodges include: Ngulia safari lodge in Tsavo west, Ol Tukai lodge in Amboseli and little governors camp in Masai Mara.

6.      Quality game view alongside birding

Most travelers like bird watching coming as a supplement to game viewings. Most of Kenya habitats are excellent wildlife hotspots boosting a variety of faunal scenes. Some of the leading destinations include:

  • Lake Nakuru. Besides viewing flamingos, you have an opportunity to view wildlife mostly white rhinos, African buffaloes, and hippos. With the lakeside remaining lush all round you will enjoy some of the best game scenes backdropped by swarms of flamingo.
  • Masai mara.  Here game viewing comes with great view of terrestrial and semi aquatic avian species. The musiara sector boost optimal birding and wildlife view all round the year.
  • Amboseli. The southern ends is an excellent game viewing and birding hotspots boosting abundant birdlife in lake Amboseli and the four other marsh areas which are the last refuge for wildlife in the park during prolonged drought.