Best Bird-Watching Destinations In Kenya

By Azure Lee

Kenya is a great place to go bird viewing year-round. The rainy season runs from April to November. You may see the bird migration traveling from Europe and Asia throughout these months. These include the American White Pelican, the small Cisticola, and several species of storks and cranes.

Common birds such as the White-bellied Go-away bird, the Crowned Hornbill, and the Scarlet-chested Sunbird can be spotted throughout the year. Lakes of the Great Rift Valley are home to the largest bird in the world, the ostrich, as well as stunning pink flamingos. Enthusiasts of birds can also enjoy viewing other species such as the Kori Bustard, Golden Breasted Starling, and Bar-tailed Trogon.

Predatory birds, or raptors, such as Hawks, Eagles, Kites, and the oldest Bearded Vulture, can also be found in bird-watching safari Kenya.

Given everything Kenya has to offer, it is reasonable to say that it is a birdwatcher's dream come true. With a wide variety of species, bird viewing is something you would not want to miss out on here. Here is a list featuring some of the best bird-watching destinations in Kenya:

Top Places For Bird Watching In Kenya

At any time of year, Kenya is a great place to go birdwatching. Kenya's vast geographic span provides it with a diversity of temperatures and landscapes, which accounts for its second-highest species diversity in Africa. Notably, Kenya boasts the world-record 'bird watch,' with an impressive 342 species observed in just 24 hours, making birding safaris Kenya truly remarkable.

Lake Nakuru

For those looking to observe a variety of species, Lake Nakuru National Park is an ideal destination due to its well-known abundance of both water and land birds. With over 500 different bird species that nest and live in different parts of the park, most notably around Lake Nakuru, Kenya's Lake Nakuru National Park is a best places for bird watching

Large flocks of Pelicans, Greater Blue Eyes Starlings, Greater and Lesser Flamingos, and the prominent Long-tailed Widowbird can all be seen here. Lake Nakuru is home to a variety of raptors, such as Lesser Krestel and Martial Eagle.

Lake Nakuru is an ideal destination due to its well-known abundance of both water and land birds

Lake Nakuru is an ideal destination due to its well-known abundance of both water and land birds

Samburu & Buffalo Springs National Reserve

The semi-arid plains of Samburu are widely renowned for their Samburu warriors and unique wildlife, including the vulnerable Grevy's Zebra, Reticulated Giraffes, and even Black Leopards. However, this area's arid climate supports over 400 bird species. The Ewaso Ny'iro river that runs through these parks is an important supply of fresh water, and numerous birds and animals may be seen visiting the river at various times of the day.

Acacia vegetation dominates most of the Samburu area, and birds such as Pygmy falcons, White-headed Buffalo Weavers, Magpie Starlings, Somali Bee-eaters, Vulturine Guineafowl, Donaldson Smith's Sparrow-weaver, Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill, and the small Yellow-vented Eremomela may be commonly found.

Most of the lodges in the park have well-kept gardens that attract nearby birds such as Abyssinian Scimitarbills, Black-capped Social Weaver, Black-throated Barbet, Black-bellied Sunbird, and, on rare occasions, Shining Sunbird. 

Mt Kenya National Park

As the highest peak in Kenya, Mount Kenya is also arguably the hardest to climb. However, as you climb higher, a diverse range of birds, including Mountain and Slender-billed Greenbuls, White-headed Woodhoopoe, White-starred Robins, Thick-billed Seedeater, and Oriole Finch, can be found.

After climbing further, the moorland welcomes you to the land of sunbirds such as Northern and Eastern Double-collared, Malachite, Scarlet-tufted, and Tacazze. If you're lucky, you may be able to see a Bearded Vulture, which many claim has vanished from Mount Kenya.

 Mt Kenya National Park is one of the best bird watching destinations in Kenya

Mt Kenya National Park is one of the best bird watching destinations in Kenya

Nairobi National Park

For those interested in bird watching in Nairobi, visiting Nairobi National Park offers a chance to see some of Africa’s unique bird species. Being the only wildlife park located in a major city, it hosts more than 500 different species of birds and the Big 5.

Open grasslands, plains with lightly wooded cover, rocky valleys, seasonal wetlands, dams, rivers and streams bordered by forests, and montane forests are only a few of the diverse habitats found within the park. 

Many water birds, such as Grey Herons, African Darters, African Water Rail, Saddle-billed, Yellow-billed, and Marabou Storks, can be found in the dams and seasonal wetlands. Additionally, the elusive African Finfoot can be found in rivers and streams. 

Visiting Nairobi National Park offers a chance to see some of the unique bird species

Visiting Nairobi National Park offers a chance to see some of the unique bird species

Maasai Mara

Probably not requiring an introduction, this well-known park is the most visited in Kenya and one of the best bird-watching destinations in Kenya. The park is not only famous for its Masai people, enormous herds of migrating wildebeest and high predator density, but it’s also a fantastic location for birdwatching, with over 550 species recorded!

You'll see an impressive number of raptors, including the Rufous-bellied Heron that is only on Maasai Mara. Travelers are always impressed by the sheer number of vultures circling high in the sky, intent on their prey.

Although the Masai Mara is primarily made up of grasslands, there are also some riverine forests, cliffs on the Oloolol escarpment, and acacia scrub. During a game drive, it is typical to spot grassland birds including Temminck's Courser, African Wattled Lapwings, Black-bellied Bustards, and Fawn-colored Larks. 

Maasai Mara is a fantastic location for birdwatching

Maasai Mara is a fantastic location for birdwatching

Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha is one of Kenya's best places for bird-watching along the Rift Valley. Yellow fever trees around the lake's edges, provide habitat to a diverse range of unique birds and free-ranging fauna.

The lake itself holds numerous water birds, including African Darters, Reed and Great Cormorants, Great White and Pink-Backed Pelicans, Yellow-billed Ducks, Red-billed and Hottentot teals, Red-knobbed Coots, Black and Grey Herons, Great White, Little and Cattle Egrets, and African Spoonbills.

White-fronted Bee-eaters, Wahlberg's Honeybird, Black-lored and Arrow-marked Babblers, Variable Sunbird, Green Woodhoopoe, African Grey, Cardinal, and Nubian Woodpeckers may all be seen in the dense forest surrounding the lakes.

Lake Naivasha is among the best places for bird-watching in Kenya along the Rift Valley

Lake Naivasha is among the best places for bird-watching in Kenya along the Rift Valley

Arabuko Sokoke Forest

Arabuko Sokoke Forest is renowned for its richness of mammals, butterflies, amphibians, and birds, many of which are unique to this area. It is the largest intact coastal forest in East Africa. This area is also home to the endemic Clarke's Weaver.

Sokoke Scops Owls, Amani Sunbird, East Coast Akalat, Red-tailed Ant-thrush, Fischers Turaco, Mombasa Woodpecker, Little Yellow Flycatcher, and the endemic Weaver are the main forest highlights.

Of course, there are many other delightful birds to see as well. The open miombo woodland is an excellent place to look for species like the stunning Bush-shrike, Forest, and Pale Batis, Dark-backed Weaver, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Southern-banded Snake-eagle, Yellow-bellied, and Fischer's Greenbuls.

Arabuko Sokoke Forest is renowned for its richness of mammals, butterflies, amphibians, and bird

Arabuko Sokoke Forest is renowned for its richness of mammals, butterflies, amphibians, and bird

Kinangop plateau

The Kinangop plateau, one of top places for bird watching in Kenya is an abrupt floor that rises from the floor of the rift valley. Although this region is not a protected park or reserve, it is home to several unique birds, including the endemic Sharpe's Longclaw.

The mile-long tussock grasslands have been converted into farmland, yet birds may still be spotted hanging out on these artificial habitats. Sharpe's Longclaw, Rufous-naped 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 all frequent birds to spot in these grasslands/farmlands.

Marshes and seasonal lily ponds in the grasslands attract Grey-crowned Cranes, Yellow-crowned Bishops, Glossy Ibis, and the rare Lesser Jacana. Wet marshes are also frequented by migrant harriers such as the Western Marsh, Pallid, and Montagu's Harrier.

How To Bird Watching In Kenya And Tips

The skills of patience, observation, listening, and knowledge are necessary for birdwatching. To help you make the most of your bird watching safari Kenya, consider the following tips:

  • To observe birds at a distance better, use a spotting scope or a pair of binoculars.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings and search for any man-made or natural structures that might be able to offer food and shelter to the birds.
  • Examine the area for any signs of movement, sound, or behavior that could point to the presence of a bird.
  • Pay close attention to the sounds made by birds. A lot of different species have unique songs and calls that make identification easier.
  • Familiarize yourself with the numerous field guides that are available in Kenya so that you can recognize the diverse species that may be found there.
  • Take pictures or videos of the birds you see; these will help educate novice birders learn about the species and provide a wonderful memento of your trip.

Don't let your daily activities limit you - break the boredom with bird watching! Kenya's diverse landscapes and rich ecosystems make it one of the best bird-watching destinations in the world. Whether you are a seasoned birder or a beginner, birding tours in Kenya promise an unforgettable experience amidst some of the most stunning natural settings in Africa.

For travelers planning to explore these incredible birding sites, applying for a Kenya ETA is a straightforward and convenient process. By applying for your Kenya ETA online advance, you can avoid lengthy queues at the airport and begin your adventure as soon as you arrive. So pack your binoculars and field guide, and embark on a bird-watching adventure in Kenya!

 
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