Kenya

SUB-REGION
East Africa

SIZE
580,370 km²

BIRDS AND BIRDING

SPECIES
Diversity
Strongly Afrotropical avifauna
Approximately 1,140 recorded species (2nd longest bird list of any country in the ABC region)

Jackson’s Spurfowl (Paul van Giersbergen)
Sokoke Scops Owl (Paul van Giersbergen)
Taita Apalis (Keith Valentine)

Endemics (E)
Jackson’s Spurfowl (LC)
Williams’s Lark (LC)
Tana River Cisticola (DD)
Aberdare Cisticola (VU)
Taita Apalis (CR)
Hinde’s Babbler (VU)
Kikuyu White-eye (LC)
Taita White-eye (EN)
Taita Thrush (EN)
Clarke’s Weaver | Kilifi Weaver (EN)
Sharpe’s Longclaw (EN)

Near-endemics (NE)
Elgon Francolin
Friedmann’s Lark
Golden-winged Sunbird
Donaldson-Smith’s Sparrow-Weaver
Parrot-billed Sparrow
Fire-fronted Bishop
Sokoke Pipit

Golden-winged Sunbird (Tadeusz Rosinski)
Parrot-billed Sparrow (Adam Riley)

Birds best found in Kenya but occurring more widely (BT)
Somali Ostrich
Moorland Francolin
Olive Ibis
Black-faced Sandgrouse
Sokoke Scops Owl
White-headed Mousebird
Mangrove Kingfisher
Blue-headed Bee-eater
Somali Bee-eater
Jackson’s Hornbill
Mombasa Woodpecker
Black-backed Puffback (affinis)
East Coast Boubou
Taita Fiscal
White-bellied Tit
Collared Lark
Masked Lark
Fischer’s Greenbul
Tiny Greenbul
Scaly Babbler
Fischer’s Starling
Abbott’s Starling
Plain-backed Sunbird
Amani Sunbird
Hunter’s Sunbird
Violet-breasted Sunbird
Somali Sparrow
Kenya Rufous Sparrow
Golden Palm Weaver
Northern Masked Weaver
Red-headed Weaver (jubaensis)
Zanzibar Red Bishop
Jackson’s Widowbird
Grey-headed Silverbill
Steel-blue Whydah
Golden Pipit
Pangani Longclaw
Malindi Pipit

Mangrove Kingfisher (Pete Morris)
Donaldson-Smith’s Sparrow-Weaver (Paul van Giersbergen)

Birds occurring in only two territories of the ABC region but not NE or BT (1/2)
Black-fronted Francolin
Fischer’s Turaco
Hartlaub’s Turaco
Star-spotted Nightjar
Usambiro Barbet
Forest Batis
Eastern Black-headed Batis
Grey-crested Helmetshrike
Black Boubou
Long-tailed Fiscal
Red-throated Tit
Athi Short-toed Lark
Mountain Greenbul
Stripe-faced Greenbul
Little Yellow Flycatcher
Hunter’s Cisticola
Coastal Cisticola
Northern Pied Babbler
Mbulu White-eye
Hildebrandt’s Starling
Kenrick’s Starling
Chapin’s Flycatcher
Uluguru Violet-backed Sunbird
Eastern Double-collared Sunbird
Usambara Double-collared Sunbird
Tsavo Sunbird
Swahili Sparrow
Taveta Golden Weaver
Southern Grosbeak Canary

Usambiro Barbet (Tadeusz Rosinski)
Taveta Golden Weaver (Pete Morris)

Birds best found in two territories but occurring in more (B2)
Vulturine Guineafowl
Heuglin’s Bustard
Hartlaub’s Bustard
Black-winged Lapwing
Somali Courser
Madagascar Pratincole
Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse
Northern White-faced Owl
Cape Eagle-Owl
Sombre Nightjar
Donaldson Smith’s Nightjar
Nyanza Swift
Forbes-Watson’s Swift
Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill
Hemprich’s Hornbill
Green Tinkerbird
Jameson’s Wattle-eye
Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike
Three-streaked Tchagra
Pringle’s Puffback
Red-naped Bushshrike
Fan-tailed Raven
Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit
Chestnut-headed Sparrow-Lark
Fischer’s Sparrow-Lark
Pink-breasted Lark
Foxy Lark
Red-winged Lark
Dodson’s Bulbul
Joyful Greenbul
Toro Olive Greenbul
Somali Crombec
Uganda Woodland Warbler
Highland Rush Warbler
Boran Cisticola
Ashy Cisticola
Lynes’s Cisticola
Tiny Cisticola
Pale Prinia
Black-collared Apalis
Brown-tailed Apalis
Yellow-vented Eremomela
Scaly-breasted Illadopsis
Rufous Chatterer
Abyssinian Ground Thrush
Bristle-crowned Starling
Magpie Starling
Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat
East Coast Akalat (sokokensis)
Moorland Chat | Alpine Chat
Brown-tailed Rock Chat
Grey Sunbird | Mouse-coloured Sunbird
Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird
Black-capped Social Weaver
White-billed Buffalo Weaver
Brown-capped Weaver
Red-collared Widowbird (suahelicus)
Abyssinian Crimsonwing
Blue-capped Cordon-bleu
Crimson-rumped Waxbill
Black-cheeked Waxbill
Rosy-breasted Longclaw
African Citril
Stripe-breasted Seedeater
Northern Grosbeak Canary

Proposed new species or splits not yet accepted by IOC
Kenya Crested Guineafowl (BT)
Kikuyu Red-winged Francolin
Kirk’s Francolin (BT)
Eastern Black-billed Turaco
Grey-breasted Green Pigeon
Mackinder’s Eagle-Owl (B2)
Scheffler’s Owlet (BT)
Eastern Grey-throated Barbet (B2)
Common White-headed Barbet
Brown-and-white Barbet | Snowy Barbet (E)
Coastal Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird (BT)
Grant’s Wood Hoopoe (BT)
Southern Rosy-patched Bushshrike (1/2)
Buff-bellied Penduline Tit (1/2)
Turner’s Eremomela (E)
Southern Stout Cisticola
Kulal White-eye (E)
Bafirawari Flycatcher (BT)
White-winged Scrub Robin (B2)
Schalow’s Wheatear (1/2)
Gorgeous Sunbird (1/2)
Yellow-shouldered Widowbird (B2)

Other taxa of interest, including endemic subspecies (ESS)
Common Ostrich (massaicus)
Maccoa Duck
Shelley’s Francolin (ESS macarthuri)
Scaly Francolin
Hildebrandt’s Francolin
Southern Banded Snake Eagle
Little Sparrowhawk
Mountain Buzzard
African Rail | African Water Rail
Grey Crowned Crane
Quail-plover
Crab-plover
Long-toed Lapwing
Black-headed Lapwing (latifrons)
Chestnut-banded Plover (venustus)
Greater Painted-snipe
Double-banded Courser (gracilis)
Three-banded Courser | Heuglin’s Courser
Yellow-throated Sandgrouse
Dusky Turtle Dove
White-crested Turaco
African Scops Owl (ESS nivosus)
Montane Nightjar
Slender-tailed Nightjar
Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater
Abyssinian Scimitarbill
Silvery-cheeked Hornbill
White-eared Barbet
Green Barbet (olivacea)
Moustached Green Tinkerbird
Red-fronted Barbet
Black-throated Barbet
Red-and-yellow Barbet
D’Arnaud’s Barbet
Pallid Honeyguide
Fine-banded Woodpecker (hausburgi)
Eastern Grey Woodpecker
D’Arnaud’s Barbet (boehmi)
Pygmy Falcon
Red-fronted Parrot
Red-bellied Parrot
Pale Batis
Forest Batis (ESS ultima)
Pygmy Batis
Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike (ESS keniensis)
Tropical Boubou (ambiguus)
Papyrus Gonolek
Purple-throated Cuckooshrike
Montane Oriole
Northern Grey Tit
Kakamega Greenbul
Olive-breasted Mountain Greenbul
Placid Greenbul
White-browed Crombec
Brown Woodland Warbler
Basra Reed Warbler
Papyrus Yellow Warbler
White-winged Warbler
Cinnamon Bracken Warbler
Carruthers’s Cisticola
Rock-loving Cisticola (emini)
Black-faced Prinia
Black-headed Apalis
Chestnut-throated Apalis
Karamoja Apalis
Red-fronted Warbler
Grey-capped Warbler
Grey Wren-Warbler
Banded Parisoma
Forest Hyliota
Golden-breasted Starling
Stuhlmann’s Starling
Red-tailed Ant Thrush (rufus)
Abyssinian Ground Thrush
Bare-eyed Thrush
Rüppell’s Robin-Chat
Spotted Morning Thrush
Anteater Chat (cryptoleuca)
Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird
Tacazze Sunbird
Black-bellied Sunbird
Chestnut Sparrow
Yellow-spotted Bush Sparrow
White-headed Buffalo Weaver
Northern Brown-throated Weaver
Speke’s Weaver
Golden-backed Weaver
Chestnut Weaver
Black Bishop (friederichseni)
Long-tailed Widowbird (delamerei)
Kandt’s Waxbill (ESS keniensis)
Straw-tailed Whydah
Cuckoo-finch
African Citril (ESS kikuyensis)
Papyrus Canary
Thick-billed Seedeater (ESS albifrons)
West African Seedeater (elgonensis)
Somali Bunting

MAIN HABITATS
Arid savanna, coastal forest, lowland rainforest, montane forest and grassland, moist savanna, desert

BIRD AREAS
East African coastal forests Endemic Bird Areas (EBA)
Jubba and Shabeelle valleys EBA
Kenyan mountains EBA
Serengeti plains EBA
Tanzania – Malawi mountains EBA
Kakamega and Nandi forests Secondary Area (SA)
Mount Kulal SA
North Kenyan short grass plains SA
68 Important Bird Areas (IBAs)

BIRDING SITES
Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Dakatcha Woodland, Manda Island and Tana River Primate Reserve for coastal species
Taita Hills forests, Mount Kenya, Kinangop grasslands and Aberdare mountains for montane species
Maasai Mara National Reserve (NR) and Nairobi National Park (NP) for moist savanna species
Tsavo NPs, Shaba, Samburu and Buffalo Springs NRs and Lake Baringo for arid savanna species
Marsabit NP for desert species
Kakamega Forest for lowland forest species

TIMING (Apr–May, Nov)
Being a mainly arid country, it is best to visit during the rains (Apr–May and Oct–Nov) when birds breed, although timing and quality of rainfall can be quite unpredictable
Palaearctic migrants are mostly present Oct–Mar
Any time of the year is good, though

RESOURCES
Apps
Birds of Africa (iOS or Android)
eGuide to Birds of East Africa

Field guides
Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania by Dale A Zimmerman, Donald A Turner & David J Pearson (1996), also available in an abridged, lighter edition (2005)
Birds of East Africa by Terry Stevenson & John Fanshawe (2020)
Birds of Eastern Africa by Ber Van Perlo (2009)
Birds of Kenya: a Photographic Guide by Amedeo Buonajuti (2010)
Pocket Guide Birds of East Africa by Dave Richards (2016)
Birds of the Masai Mara by Adam Scott Kennedy (2012)
Birds of Kenya’s Rift Valley by Adam Scott Kennedy (2014)
Collins Traveller’s Guide to Wildlife of Kenya, Tanzania & Uganda by David Hosking & Martin Withers (2007) is a pocket-sized photographic guide covering over 475 commonly-seen species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, trees and flowers

Sounds
100 Common Bird Calls in East Africa by Dave Richards & Brian Finch
The Bird Song of Kenya and Tanzania: an Introductory Aid to Identification by John Hammick

Site guides
50 Top Birding Sites in Kenya by Catherine Ngarachu (2017)
Where to Watch Birds in World Cities by Paul Milne (2006) covers sites in and around Nairobi
Birding Northern Kenya: in Search of Masked Lark by Kevin Vang & Wojciech Dabrowka (2007)
Birding in Kieni Forest by Nick Gardner (1996)
Birding Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Kenya’s Northern Coast by John Fanshawe (1994)
Where to Watch Birds in Kenya by Ray Moore (1982)

Atlases
Kenya Bird Map (KBM), a member of the African Bird Atlas Project
A Bird Atlas of Kenya by Adrian Lewis & Derek Pomeroy (1989)
Biodiversity Atlas Kenya aggregates Kenya biodiversity data and makes it available and usable online
Kenya’s Natural Capital: a Biodiversity Atlas (2015)

Checklists
Checklist of the Birds of Kenya by the Nature Kenya Bird Committee (2019)
Nairobi National Park Bird Check List by Brian Finch (2012)
Nature Kenya has published checklists of the birds of Boni-Dodori, Dakatcha Woodland (which gives bird names in the Giriama language), Kakamega Forest (by Itai Shanni & Bernd de Bruijn), Meru National Park (by Mark Mallalieu) and Sabaki Estuary
Rhino Ark has published The Birds of Eburu Forest checklist compiled by Washington Wachira (2017)
Annotated Checklist of the Birds of East Africa by Lester L Short, Jennifer F M Horne & Cecilia Muringo-Gichuki (1990)

Further reading
The Birds chapter in Kenya: a Natural History by Stephen Spawls & Glenn Mathews (2012)
Kenya by Leon Bennun & Peter Njoroge in Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority Sites for Conservation edited by Lincoln D C Fishpool& Michael I Evans (2001)
Kenya’s Important Bird Areas: Status and Trends (2004-2016)
Monitoring Important Bird Areas in Africa: Towards a Sustainable and Scaleable System by Leon Bennun, Paul Matiku, Ronald Mulwa, Solomon Mwangi & Paul Buckley (2005)
Birds, People and Conservation in Kenya by Mercy Njeri Muiruri & Patrick Maundu in Ethno-ornithology: Birds, Indigenous Peoples, Culture and Society edited by Sonia Tidemann & Andrew Gosler (2010)
Sound, Sight, Stories and Science: Avoiding Methodological Pitfalls in Ethno-ornithological Research, with Examples from Kenya by Fleur Ng’weno in Ethno-ornithology: Birds, Indigenous Peoples, Culture and Society edited by Sonia Tidemann & Andrew Gosler (2010)
Turaco Country: Reminiscences of East African Birding by Dale A Zimmerman (2015)
Birds of Dakatcha Woodland IBA by Fleur Ng’weno, Japhet Garama, Julio Mwambire, Samson Katisho & Albert Baya (2018)
A Guide to Taita Hills Unique Natural History by Lawrence Wagura (2014)
The Study and Ringing of Palaearctic Birds at Ngulia Lodge, Tsavo West National Park, Kenya, 1969-2012: an Overview and Update by David Pearson, Graeme Backhurst & Colin Jackson (2014)
The Avifauna of an Upland Seasonal Woodland in Central Kenya: Ecology, Behavior, Breeding by Lester L Short & Jennifer F M Horne (2006)
Birds to Watch in East Africa: A Preliminary Red Data List by Leon Bennun & Peter Njoroge (1996)
The Birds of Watamu by Robin Cahill (1992)
The Cultural and Economic Importance of Birds Among the Boran People of Northern Kenya by Hussein Adan Isack in The Value of Birds edited by A W Diamond & F L Filion (1987)
The Birds of Lake Baringo by Terry Stevenson (1980)
Birds of East Africa: Their Habitat, Status and Distribution edited by P L Britton (1980)
The Breeding Seasons of East African Birds by L H Brown & P L Britton (1980)
The Avifauna of the Kakamega Forest, Western Kenya, including a Bird Population Study by Dale A Zimmerman (1972)

Journals
Scopus: Journal of East African Ornithology is published by the Bird Committee of the East Africa Natural History Society (EANHS)
Journal of East African Natural History (JEANH) is published jointly by the EANHS and the National Museums of Kenya (NMK)
African Journal of Ecology, formerly East African Wildlife Journal, is published in association with the East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS)
Journal of the East Africa Natural History Society and National Museum (1965-1993) merged with Utafiti to form JEANH
Bulletin of the African Bird Club

Magazines and newsletters
Kenya Birding is the Nature Kenya magazine
Nature Net is the Nature Kenya newsletter
Swara is the magazine of the EAWLS
Kenya Birds (1992-2008) was a magazine published jointly by the EANHS and NMK
Nature East Africa (2003-2007) was a magazine published by Nature Kenya in succession to the EANHS Bulletin (1971-2001)

Listservs
Kenyabirdsnet is a Google group whose goal is to improve communication among Kenyan birders and others who are interested in Kenya’s birds by informing one another about interesting bird findings and rare observations, as well as announcing birding activities held in the country

Websites
Rupi the African Trotter
Cisticola Tours: Birding and Nature Tours in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda
Kenya Birding: Bird Watching in Magical Kenya
Kenya Birds
UNESCO World Heritage List: Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Turkana National Parks and Mount Kenya National Park/National Forest

Blogs
Nature Kenya Blog by the EANHS
Kenya Bird Map Blog is a blog for sharing information, updates and tips relating to the KBM project
Dr Liv’s Blog: Wildlife and Small Conservation Projects in Africa by Luca Borghesio
Birders of Kenya, 2016: Yale University Press Blog by Nancy J Jacobs

Facebook groups
Kenya Bird Map is the official group for the KBM project for posts related to bird mapping in Kenya
Birding in Kenya is a group to discuss birding activities/events, birding sites and species of Kenya
Birds of East Africa is a group for everybody who is interested with Eastern African birdlife
Wings over Kenya was created to highlight Kenya’s avifauna
Bird Watching in Kenya is for sharing your views and best shots of birds in Kenya

ORGANISATIONS

Nature Kenya – The East Africa Natural History Society (EANHS) is the BirdLife Partner in Kenya and Africa’s oldest environmental society

The Ringing Scheme of Eastern Africa coordinates and promotes bird ringing/banding throughout the East African region and beyond through issuing of rings to qualified ringers, curating ringing data and tracking ring recoveries

The East African Rarities Committee assesses records of new and very rare birds occurring in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi

The Ornithology Section of the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) manages databases of bird records, curates NMK’s collection of bird specimens, and conducts action-oriented research, training, and documentation and dissemination of information on birds and their habitats

The following Site Support Groups (SSGs) at priority IBAs work in partnership with Nature Kenya –
Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Adjacent Dwellers Association (ASFADA)
Busia Environmental Conservation Education Program (BECEP)
Chebororwa Sekemiat Self-help Group
Dakatcha Woodland Conservation Group
Dawida Biodiversity Conservation CBO (DaBiCo)
Friends of Dunga Swamp (formerly Lake Victoria Sunset Birders)
Friends of Kinangop Plateau (FoKP)
Friends of Nature Bogoria (FoNB)
Ithugi Self-help Group
Kakamega Environmental Education Programme (KEEP)
Kijabe Environment Volunteers (KENVO)
Lake Elementaita Ecosystem Group
Lake Naivasha Biodiversity Conservation Group
Maasai Mara Wildlife Ambassadors
Mida Creek Conservation and Awareness Group (MCCAG)
Mount Kenya Biodiversity Conservation Group (Mt Kebio)
Mumoni SSG
Mukurwe-ini Environmental Volunteers Organization (MEVO)
Murguiywet CBO
Mutitu SSG
Nyahururu Bird Club
Ruma Park SSG
Sabaki River Conservation Development Organization (SARICODO)
South Nandi Biodiversity Conservation Group (SONABIC)
Tana Delta Conservation Network (TDCN)
Yala Ecosystem Site Support Group (YESSG)

Other bird or conservation organisations active in Kenya include –
East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS)
A Rocha Kenya (ARK)
Wildlife Clubs of Kenya (WCK)
Community Action for Nature Conservation (CANCO)
Kenya Bird of Prey Trust
Kenya Women Birders
Cranes Conservation Volunteers (CCV)
Kilusu Bird Club
Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA)
The Green Belt Movement (GBM)
Rhino Ark
Mount Kenya Trust
Kijabe Forest Trust
Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust
Tsavo Trust
Watamu Marine Association
Oceans Alive Trust
Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean – East Africa (CORDIO-EA)
Blue Ventures
Seacology
NABU
Fauna & Flora International (FFI)
WCS Kenya
WWF-Kenya
Wetlands International Eastern Africa
The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Eden Reforestation Projects



Shopping Cart