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Fisher's lovebird.
  More about birds
Watching birds
To watch birds, bring a pair of binoculars. This will allow you to observe birds far away or airborne, as well as smaller birds.
More about binoculars
Books on birds
Good, modern books on East African birds are available in English. If you don't really feel tempted to own such a book, you probably won't need it during your safari.
More about wildlife an nature books
Coastal bird watching
There are some good spots for bird watching on the Kenyan coast, for example Kisite and Mpunguti, Arabuko Sokoke, Mida Creek, Malindi Marine National Reserve and the Sabaki River.
Five big birds
For Big Five of Birds, you may look for the following species:
· Ostrich
· Kori bustard
· Goliath heron
· Lappet-faced/Nubian vulture
· Pelican
Five eagles
You have fair to good chances seeing these five eagles while game driving:
· Tawny eagle
· Long-crested eagle
· Bateleur
· African fish eagle
· Martial eagle
  More web sites
Checklist of birds in Kenya
By Birds worldwide.
African Bird Club
Birding Africa
By Fat Birder.
Kenya Birds
Safari glossary
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Wildlife & nature:
Most safari-goers come to Kenya or Tanzania to see the large mammals. But there is also a rich bird life to see, with many species and a lot of birds of prey. Non-birders may enjoy seeing large birds such as ostriches and pelicans, while bird watchers may have the time of their life.

Anyone who enjoys birding will have a good time travelling in East Africa. Many African species are spectacular in colour, shape or behaviour, and there are many of them; about 1,100 bird species (out of Africa's 1,800) have been recorded in Kenya and Tanzania.

Species list: Birds

Juvenile augur buzzard in the Ngorongoro crater.

Birds are everywhere
The large mammals are mainly found in parks, but the birds are everywhere. For example, more than 500 species have been observed within a 40 km/25 mi radius from Nairobi.

But there are also birding hotspots, such as Kakamega Forest and Arabuko Sokoke in Kenya. Some big game parks are also good birding areas, for example Masai Mara, Serengeti and Tarangire. More than 450 bird species have been recorded in Masai Mara, out of these 55 different birds of prey. The Tarangire bird list is even longer.

Kori bustard, the haviest flying bird in the world.

You don't have to be an avid birder to enjoy the African bird life. You don't have to be interested in them all, but may limit yourself to looking only at the most spectacular birds, such as the colourful, big or strange ones, and leave the rest for the ornithologists. There are a lot of impressive eagles, vultures and other birds of prey, and many storks, herons and hornbills. Such birds are often easy to spot, and if you have some interest and a book on birds available, they are often fairly easy to identify on your own.

370 bird species in a safari
Doing some proper birding, using binoculars and a bird book, you may see some 100 to 150 species while game driving on an normal wildlife safari. A bird watcher that we travelled with, and who visited east Africa for the first time, recorded 370 bird species during a week-long wildlife safari. A lot of birding can be done on the lodges or tented camps where you are staying in the bush.

White-backed vultures and Rüppel's griffon vultures feeding from a carcass.

Birding safaris
If you prefer birds to mammals, you may have a birding safari tailored for you, or join some packaged birding tour to East Africa. Such tours may differ from big game safaris, visiting other types of biotopes. A variety of biotopes, such as savannas, soda lakes, rivers and freshwater lakes, woodlands and forests, may be visited also on a common safari, but you may not get the proper birding opportunities that you want.

White pelicans over Lake Manyara in Tanzania.

Binoculars and telescopes
A pair of binoculars is of course your basic tool for birding (and should be brought for game viewing, too), and is mostly good enough, as birds are plentiful. The telescope that you may want for the serious birding can be difficult to use when game driving, as using a tripod in the vehicle is out of question due to the limited space. An option is to use a beanbag to stabilize the telescope; you put the beanbag on the roof or in a window, and put the telescope on top. This is an improvement, but still not an optimal solution, as people tend to move in the vehicle, which makes the telescope shake.

A tripod can be put to good use between game drives, when you're on foot in the lodge or tented camp where you are staying.

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Page updated17 February 2009