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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 and clients


Afr. Jacana



African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus) The smaller
male raises the chicks. Widespread in wetlands in Africa.

Lesser Jacana (Microparra capenis) is a local migrant not
as far spread as the African Jacana. Photo Marina Meger







Spotted thick-knee (Burhinus capensis) is
mainly nocturnal in open dry bush land.

Water Thick-knee (Burhinus vermuculatus). Widespread in
Africa near water. Photo by Marina Meger



Senegal Thick knee

Senegal Thick-knee (Burhinus senegalensis) occurs from more Northern Kenya to West Africa. Photo Lorenzo Barelli






Crab-Plovers (Dromas ardeola) feed on crabs along the coasts.

Collared (Red-winged) pratincole (Glareola pratincola) is
widespread intra-Africa migrant and sometimes in large flocks.



Madagascar pratincole

Madagascar pratincole (Glareola ocularis) lives in estuaries and coastal-plain wetlands. From March to September they are non-breedin visitors to East Africa’s coastal region. Status: vulnerable. Photo Lorenzo Barelli






Somali Courser (Cursorius somalensis littoralis)
occurs in Northern Kenya. Photo Lorenzo Barelli

Temminck’s Courser (Cursorius temminckii).
The commonest courser in Africa.



Three banded plover



Two-banded or double-banded courser (Rhinoptilus africanus gracilis). Uncommon on short-grass plains and alkaline flats.

Three-banded or Heuglins Courser (Rhinoptilus cinctus cinctus) is
uncommon in dry areas in Kenya and the Horn of Africa. The subspecies emini
occurs in Southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania. This courser is nocturnal.




Kittlitz’s plovers (Charadrius pecuarius) are common at lakes in the
Great Rift Valley and for example in Amboseli and Lewa Downs.






Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula tundrae).
Migrant, along coast and inland waters.

Three-banded plovers (Charadrius t. tricollaris)
are found near water. Widespread.



Chestnut Banded Plover

Chestnut-banded plover (Charadrius pallidus venustus). This subspecies is mainly found at Lake Natron and Magadi. Female.






Grey (black-bellied) plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
a migratory along the coast. Non-breeding.

Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) is an uncommon palearctic migrant
to the East African coast and Lake Turkana region. Photo Fabian Krokan




Long-toed plover (Vanellus crassirostris crassirostris).
Local in marshes and swamps.






African wattled plover (Vanellus senegallus lateralis)
can be found on wet grassland in Africa. Masai Mara.

White-crowned plover (Vanellus albiceps) occurs in Southern
Tanzania and further South. Photo by Claudio Comolli / Ruaha NP.









Blacksmith plover (Vanellus armatus) is a widespread species.

Spur-winged plovers (Vanellus spinosus)
live near water. Widespread from East to Westafrica.







Black-winged plover (Vanellus melanopterus minor). Locally
common above 1,500 m on short-grass plains. Masai Mara, Serengeti

Senegal plover / lesser black-winged lapwing (Vanellus lugubris)
with yellow eye and red frame. Local and nomadic.







Black-headed plover (Vanellus tectus).
Locally common in dry bush land from East to Westafrica.

Crowned plover / lapwing (Vanellus  c.coronatus) are very noisy
 and warn of any danger. Widespread in Africa.




Greater painted Snipe



Greater painted-snipe (Rostratula b. benghalensis).
Uncommon but widespread in marshy areas. Males.

Greater painted-snipe (Rostratula b. benghalensis).
Uncommon but widespread in marshy areas. Female.



Common Snipe

African Snipe



Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) is a common migrant
 from October to March West to East Africa.

African snipe (Gallinago nigripennis aequatorialis)
is not often found at water bodies in East Africa.






Black-winged stilt (Himantopus h. himantopus).
Widespread in wetlands.

Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta).
Fairly common on alkaline Rift Valley lakes.






Black-tailed godwit (Limosa l.limosa) is a migratory bird
from Eurasia and stays on inland lakes from October to April.
They like searching for food in groups in the water.

Whimbrel (Numenius p.,phaeopus). Common
along coast, especially August - April. Photo Fabian Krokan







Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) stays in Africa
from August to April. Migrant from Northern Europe.

Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) a
palearctic migrant mostly August to May.






Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis).
Migrant from the North.

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola).
Migrant from the North from August to early May.






Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia).
Common and widespread from August to April.

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) a migratory bird from the North
searches for water insects. Foto Sammy Mugo






Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) a migrant
from the North passing through Africa from July until May.

Little Stint (Caladris minuta). Common and
widespread in Africa from August to May.






Sanderling (Calidris alba). Along coasts during
 August to April, some over summer.

Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria i. interpres). Common
along coasts from September until April.






Grey-headed gull (Larus cirrocephalus poiocephalus)
is frequent on inland lakes.

Sooty (Hemprich’s) Gull (Ichthyaetus hemprichii) fly over the Indian
ocean along East and Northeast coasts. Photo Fabian Krokan



Lesser black backed gull
Gull billed tern



Lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus) is found at coast
and inland lakes in Africa from October to April. Lukuba Island

Gull-billed tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) is a migrant to Africa’s
coast and inland lakes from August to Arpil. Lukuba Island



Roseate tern



Common Terns (Sterna hirundu) fly in flocks over the oceans.

Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii) is found above coastal water of Africa. They breed mainly at the coast from Somalia to Tanzania. Photo Lorenzo Barelli




Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus delalandii).
Widespread inland and along coasts.



BrownNoddy_Fabian Krokan

White winged tern



Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus) is an offshore bird along East and West African
coasts. Occasionally and for breeding it is seen at land. Photo Fabian Krokan

White-winged tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) is a
common migratory bird in Africa from August to April.