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The Indian Ocean, coastal areas partly forested to savannahs, semi-deserts, mountain forests, fresh water and soda lakes, rivers, glaciers and rainforests provide a huge range of different biotopes and are responsible for the big variety of bird species. Currently more than 1.400 registered species, of which around 100 are migratory birds, occur in East Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. You find little brown birds, very colourful species and majestic vultures and eagles. Parks and sanctuaries have between 300 and over 550 registered bird species. East Africa is a paradise for ornithologists. But also non birders will be fascinated by some of the impressive birds.

Many species are spread all over the continent, but several are endemic and only occur in small ranges. We as the specialists know where to find them.

Pictures are listed in the same order as in most bird books.

Pictures taken by Elvira Wolfer, Sammy Mugo (ornithologist and safariguide) and clients.






Black / Yellow-billed Kite (Milvus aegyptius parasitus) are found near
water and human settlements. Adult with yellow beak.

Black Kite (Milvus aegyptius parasitus). Juvenile with black beak tip.




Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) breed in Africa only at the coas of the Red sea
and is a migratory bird in the rest of Africa. More often seen at the coast
than inland. Female, males do not have a brown breast band. Nairobi region.



Black shouldered kite



Black-shouldered kite (Elanus c. caeruleus). Widespread in Africa.

Fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer). They still occur
in good numbers near water in Africa.






Palm-nut vulture (Gypohierax angolensis). Local in East African coastland
and lowlands. Usually seen in Samburu, Meru and Shimba Hills.
More frequent towards Westafrica.

White-headed vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis) is also one of the
very rare vultures. In all regions in Africa is status is vulnerable.






Egyptian vulture (Neophron perconopterus) occurs mainly in more Northern African areas, but also locally in other countries. Endangered and rare to see.
Photo Lorenzo Barelli

Hooded vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus pileatus) is the
smallest at kills. Widespread in Africa.






Lappet-faced vultures (Torgos t. tracheliotus) are the
largest vultures and amazingly the shiest. Widespread in Africa.

Rüppel’s griffon vulture (Gyps r. rueppellii).
Widespread, needs cliffs to nest.






African white-backed (Gyps africanus). Mostly at the same carcass than Rüppel’s Griffon. Widespread, nests on trees.








Different vultures feasting on a dead wildebeest.






Black-chested snake eagle (Circaetus cinereus).
Snake eagles have the most piercing eyes.
Main diet are snakes. Widespread from East to South Africa.

this young bird just left the parental nest.






Western Banded Snake Eagle (Circaetus cinerascens). Scarce and
local in riverine or moist woodland. Masai Mara and other regions in Africa.

Brown snake eagle (Circaetus cinereus).
Widespread in Africa.



Southern Banded Snake Eagle




Southern Banded Snake-Eagle (Circaetus fasciolatus) has only a small distribution area along the Indian Ocean. Photo Sammy Mugo, Arabuko Sokoke Forest

Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus). Widespread in Africa. Female.






African harrier-hawk or gymnogene (Polyboroides typus) feeds on
birds in nests. Special legs allow holding on stems. Widespread in Africa.

Eurasian Marsh harrier (Circus a. aerugi-nosus)
 migratory bird from Eurasia.



Montagu s harrier female



Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus) is a migratory bird.
Usually they fly low above grass plains. Photo Claudio Comolli, Masai Mara

The female Montagu’s harrier is brown.



African Cuckoo Hawk

Gabbar goshawk adult



African Cuckoo Hawk (Aviceda cuculoides) is uncommon
in woodland areas. Widespread in Africa.

Gabar goshawk (Micronisus gabar aequatorius).
Widespread in bushland in Africa. Adult.



Gabar_dark morph



Gabar goshawk (Micronisus gabar aequatorius).
Widespread in bushland in Africa. Subadult.

Dark morph of Gabar goshawk. Photo Sammy Mugo






Dark-Chanting Goshawk (Melierax m.metabates).
North-western Kenya and Mara/Serengeti and other countries.

Eastern pale chanting goshawk (Melierax poliopterus)
 are frequent birds in savannahs in East Africa. 






Black (Great) Sparrowhawk (Accipiter melanoleucus)
is quite widespread in Africa.

Shikra (Accipiter badius sphenurus) is widespread but
uncommon in Africa’s dry countries. Photo by Marina Meger



Little Sparrowhawk

Afrikanischer Sperber



Little Sparrowhawk (Accipiter minullus) is the smallest in this genus.
Locally common from Eastern to Southern Africa. Photo Lorenzo Barelli

African Goshawk (Accipiter tachiro) is common in forests
and dense woodland from NE to South Africa. Photo Lorenzo Barelli



Ovambo Sparrowhawk

Ovambo Sparrowhawk (Accipiter ovampensis). A 2nd year bird, dark morph. Widespread in Africa, but uncommon.






Augur buzzard (Buteo a. augur) occurs in pale and dark morph.  It can be recognized by its orange tail and the
white chest, which is visible from far, unless you meet the dark morph in the same range. Widespread in Africa.



Mountain Buzzard



Common (Steppe) Buzzard (Buteo buteo vulpinus). Palearctic migrant.
Mostly to meet in Eastern Africa October, November and March.

Mountain Buzzard (Buteo oreophillus) is found
in mountain regions in East Africa. Aberdares.




Grasshopper Buzzard (Butastur rufipennis).
Intra-African migrant. Tsavo East.






Tawny eagle (Aquila rapax) like joining when there
is a carcass but also hunt themselves. Subadult.
Widespread in Africa.

Steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis orientalis) is difficult to
differentiate from the Tawny eagle (Aquila rapax). The yellow line
passes the eye and they are found in higher numbers. In Asia
where they stay during summer they hunt lemmings.
Here they feed on rodents, birds and flamingoes.






Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga) is a very rarely seen
migrant to Kenya. Its status is vulnarable. Photo Sammy Mugo, Naivasha

Verreaux Eagle (Aquila verreauxi) is widespread but rare.
Their main prey are Rock hyraxes.






Wahlberg’s Eagle (Hieraaetus wahlbergi), Brown morph.

Wahlberg’s Eagle (Hieraaetus wahlbergi) is the smallest among the brown eagles. It is an intra African migrant. The occur in different morphs from brown to this pale one.



Afr Habichtsadler



Rare are African Hawk Eagle (Hieraaetus spilogaster).
Intra-African migrant and resident, not often seen

Long-crested eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis).
Widespread in Africa.






The largest eagle in Africa is the Crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus).
Uncommon in montane forests and woodland. Feeds mainly on monkeys.

Martial eagle (Polematus bellicosus). An adult with brown spots on
its white chest. He feeds on a helmeted-guinea fowl, but also catches
hare, mongoose and small antelopes. Widespread in Africa.






Greater kestrel (Falco rupicoloides arthuri).
 Central and South Kenya, Northern Tanzania.

Red-necked falcon (Falco chiquera ruficollis) is scarce in dry areas
from West to East and Southern Africa. Photo Marina Meger, Selous Game reserve



Common Kestrel female



Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) spends the Northern winter from
East to Westafrica. The female does not have a grey head. Foto Lorenzo Barelli

Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) female






Lesser kestrels (Falco naumanni) are migratory birds from Southern
Europe (Greece, Spain etc.) They are insectivorous and flock e.g. in
the Serengeti. Male.

Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis). Migrant from Eastern Palearctic, moving
over many African countries on the Eastern side of the continent. They
can be seen in small, rarer in large flocks. Foto Lorenzo Barelli




Pygmy falcon (Polihierax semitorquatus castanonotus).
Its range coincides with that of White-headed buffalo-weaver a.o.
whose unoccupied nests it uses. Females have a brown back,
males a grey one.






Grey Kestrel (Falco ardosiacus). Uganda, Masai Mara, Western
Kenya, Serengeti to Southern Tanzania and further South as well
as up to Westafrica. Foto von Marina Meger

Sooty Falcon (Falco concolor) spends winters in savannas from Northeastern
to Southern Africa. It is a rare bird to see. Photo Sammy Mugo, Aberdare range



African Hobby Falcon



Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo) occurs from East to West and
South Africa during the Northern winter. Photo Fabian Krokan, Mombasa

African Hobby (Falco cuvieri) is an uncommon
resident or intra African migrant. Near Nairobi.






Peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) occur in Africa in 2 subspecies. The smaller one (minor) resides in Africa while the larger one (calidus) migrates to the North. It is the fastest bird reaching far above 100 km per hour when diving in the air for prey. Photo Lorenzo Barelli

Lanner falcon (Falco biarmicus) a widespread
falcon in Africa with reddish-brown on the head.