5 Must See African Birds

One of Africa’s best birding destinations is Tanzania.  It boasts one of the largest species lists of any African country: a total of 1049, of which 26 are endemic and 30 are accidental. Between November and April, when migratory birds are present, safari guests can find the best viewing experience with many birds nesting and in breeding plumage. While all of the safari parks offer great birding opportunities, Arusha National Park is often overlooked but has an amazing diversity of habitats and over 400 species in a small area. Lake Manyara also offers a great variety of waterbirds.

1 / The Secretary bird, endemic to Africa, is most often found in the open grasslands of the Serengeti National Park. Instantly recognizable as a very large bird, it has an eagle like body on crane-like legs with a featherless red face.

2 / The Great White Pelican is always a treat for our guests to see. This huge bird (with only one other pelican species larger on average), is recognized by its enormous yellow and pink bill and a dull pale-yellow gular pouch. As a highly sociable species, they often form large flocks. Well adapted for aquatic life, their long wings also make them powerful fliers. Once in the air, they often travel in striking linear, circular or V-formations. This bird is mostly silent but has a very recognizable breeding call that sounds like a mooooo. Its flight call is a deep quiet croak.

3 / The grey crowned crane is the national bird of Uganda in East Africa. As part of the crane family, its most recognizable feature is a crown of stiff golden feathers.  Each side of its face is white and there’s a bright red inflatable throat pouch. Their legs are long and black and used to wade through tall grasses. A fun fact about this bird is that its breeding display involves dancing, bowing and jumping. It has a booming call during which its red gular sac inflates.

4 / Great masses of flamingoes gather on the saltine waters of Lake Manyara. This bird of pinkish white plumage is the ‘lesser flamingo’ – the smallest species of flamingo, although a tall and large bird by most standards. It’s fascinating to see these birds in this location in which over 300 different species of birds have been recorded!

5 / Perhaps the most adored of African birds, the lilac-breasted-roller is almost unmistakable with its bright plumage and lilac throat and breast. It is unofficially considered the national bird of Kenya. Preferring open woodland and savanna, this species is largely absent from treeless places. Its normal behavior is to perch as high as possible on the tops of trees and other high vantage points in order to spot its prey moving about at ground level. During breeding season, the male will descend in swooping dives while letting out harsh and jarring sounds.

We realize that one of the most important factors for a successful safari lies in the number and quality of wildlife encounters. All our safari itineraries are strategically designed on a monthly basis to take advantage of seasonal wildlife concentrations. To find out more about our private safaris and how we maximize wildlife viewing, visit: