10 beautiful birds to see in Kenya
Updated: Apr 10
Although famous for its ‘Big Five’, Kenya is also a bird watcher’s paradise with over 1,100 recorded species including 12 endemics and many sought after rarities.
The country has a rich variety of habitats including wetlands, rainforests, lagoons, saltpans, savannahs and woodlands, that are home to some remarkable wildlife.
It is a prime location for bird watching at any time of the year. Between October and February, European long-distant migrants, including swallows, terns, and waders, arrive to spend the winter on Kenya’s shorelines. And in the summer months birds from Southern Africa come to breed.
Here are my top 10 favorite birds to spot in Kenya:
1) Superb Starling
Starlings are some of the most colourful and beautiful birds in the world, and the superb starling might be everyone’s favourite. These charismatic birds usually hang around in small family flocks of up to 15 birds and are commonly found in open woodland, savannahs, and even some towns and gardens across much of Kenya.
2) Lesser Flamingo
These long-legged beauties can be found in their thousands in Kenya’s incredible rift valley lakes. Most of the Rift Valley lakes are alkaline and have blooms of blue-green algae on which the flamingos feed. They feed by siphoning the algae with their incredible curved beaks, and the algae in turn give them their stunning pink color!
3) Sokoke Scops Owl
These tiny little owls are the smallest in Africa! Like most other owls, they are nocturnal, and mainly feed on insects like: beetles, crickets and locusts. They are found in only a few patches of forest, and these cute birds are sadly endangered due to habitat loss.
4) Grey-crowned Crane
This has to be a contender for the most stunning crane in the world. These elegant and beautiful birds are also very photogenic and can be seen walking around grasslands in pairs or flocks, feeding on grass seed and insects. They are very characterful birds and are especially entertaining to watch during their courtship rituals.
5) Secretary Bird
These tall birds of prey are unlike any other! They look like pretty storks, but don’t let their looks deceive you. These highly intelligent hunters walk around the grasslands searching for snakes, lizards, and rodents. They then chase after their prey stomping on them with their powerful feet, and delivering a fatal blow. In the local language, they are known as “serpent killers”.
6) Malachite Sunbird
Sunbirds are small nectar feeders with bright colors and iridescent feathers, and the malachite sunbird certainly lives up to its name. Their bright green iridescent feathers give good camouflage in the lush alpine grasslands of Kenya, but they are easily spotted when visiting the white flowers of giant Lobelia in the highlands.
7) Lilac-breasted Roller
The lilac-breasted roller is an exquisitely colourful bird; many believe it’s even the most photographed bird in Kenya. What makes these birds unique is their capability to make a somersault in mid-flight, which is why they are called rollers.
8) Vulturine Guineafowl
They are the largest and definitely most beautiful guineafowls on the planet. These gregarious birds are quite social and can sometimes be seen in flocks of up to 50 individuals. They prefer arid and semi-arid bush and savannah searching for wild seeds and insects to feed on.
9) Northern Carmine Bee-eater
Carmine bee-eaters are the largest of their kind in Africa, and they are absolutely lovely! These bee-eaters are Afro-tropical migrants with some of them being resident in Kenya. They usually nest in colonies, excavating horizontal tunnels on steep river banks to keep them safe from predators.
10) African Fish Eagle
A true African icon, no water body would be complete without an African fish eagle nearby. These powerful birds of prey have an unmistakable call, which they use to mark their territory, and adults will fiercely guard their home turfs from any intruders. The females of this species are larger than males and they can catch fish of about their own weight.
Swahili Eco Tours and Safaris; bird watching and wildlife experiences. We are working with local NGOs and professional photographers to promote conservation and responsible tourism.
We are currently offering a 24 day Epic Kenya Birding Tour that will take you through the beautiful wilderness of Kenya giving you the opportunity to see some remarkable birds. A portion of the proceeds from this tour will be used to support anti-poaching and Vulture conservationists. Vultures have experienced a drastic decline in their population. The main cause of vulture poisonings are unintentional poisoning by livestock owners. The team on the ground are doing a fantastic job in keeping the species alive.
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