Tips by a bird nerd for birdwatching in Kenya

Tips by a bird nerd for birdwatching in Kenya

Kenya is home to more than a thousand bird species – many are rare/threatened and most are beautiful. Birds can be found in all forests and national parks in Kenya and people from all over the world spend thousands of dollars to see them.

Written for Bunch of Backpackers by ‘bird nerd’ Andrea Liebl.

The bird nerd: Andrea

Unfortunately for me, the bird I studied (house sparrows) lives in garbage dumps and petrol stations. BUT, they are found throughout Kenya and to collect samples from many areas, I had to travel to many more areas of Kenya than most do and therefore got to see other wildlife and experience other cultures.

Work place Andrea: the dumping site. ©Andrea
Work place Andrea: the dumping site. ©Andrea

Where to Go Birdwatching in Kenya?

Fortunately, bird watching almost anywhere in Kenya is extraordinary. You can use a local company (e.g. Biodiversity Expedition Safari, a company that is run by a friend of mine) or go alone (some suggestions below). National parks will all have a stunning diversity of birds of all types, and you cannot go wrong by birding in any one of them. Kakamega forest and Taita Hills are two places I found almost overwhelming (in a good way) for songbirds, and Watamu was the best place I visited for coastal birds. I had the rare opportunity to view birds in the hand, and although most people cannot do that, I would recommend working with a tour company for at least part of your trip if you are interested in the ecology of the birds you are observing.

white eye
White eye bird Kenya. ©Andrea
Mousebird in Kenya. ©Bunch of Backpackers.
Mousebird in Kenya. ©Bunch of Backpackers.

Although many species are year-round residents of Kenya, some species migrate in the spring to Europe or other parts of Africa. One must-see is the flamingo migration. You can expect to see throughout much of the Rift Valley in Kenya during the summer months. Most tourists visit Lake Nakuru or Lake Naivasha, however smaller parks such as Lake Bogoria or Lake Baringo offer cheaper, and less crowded alternatives. At any lake, you can expect to see thousands of greater and lesser flamingos.

Flamingo at Lake Bogoria. ©Bunch of Backpackers.
Flamingo at Lake Bogoria. ©Andrea.
Bird near ©Bunch of Backpackers.
Bird near Lake Nakuru ©Bunch of Backpackers.

Additional tip by BoB:

In Nairobi the organization ‘Nature Kenya’ organizes bird walks every wednesday morning. They meet at 8.45 a.m. at the Nairobi National Museum. Check the website for more information. They also sell a useful Nairobi National Park Bird checklist.

About the author

Andrea birdAndrea Liebl is a biologist who has had the opportunity to travel to many corners of the world to conduct and present her research on birds.  For her Ph.D. dissertation work, Andrea spent a lot of time in many cities throughout Kenya studying the physiology and behavior of house sparrow (an introduced bird there).  She currently works as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Exeter conducting research in Australia.

Meet 'travel mastermind' Manouk: a 29-year-old sassy girl from Rotterdam, the Netherlands. With BoB she inspires you to explore the world, meet the unexpected and follow your dreams. Happy travels!

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