Assorted East African Birds

 
The East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi have some of Africa’s most magnificent landscapes and habitats. Each of these shelters its own magnificent range of bird species. There are various estimates of the number of distinct species ranging upwards to over 1600. I have only travelled extensively in Kenya and Tanzania and the following are but a selection from my favourite photographs of birds of these areas. I am not as enthusiastic a birder as some so please excuse some of the more obvious missing species.
 
I have tried to separate the species into groups and have deliberately separated out the raptors as there are many and these are for me the most interesting birds of the region and there are many ! As a continent Africa can boast 34% of the world’s raptor species and a quarter of the world’s owl species! In East Africa alone there are 78 diurnal species and 16 nocturnal species of raptor, the richest concentration in the entire world.
 
Please click gallery photo below to open each gallery and see more photos.
 
Raptors 
 
Eagles – Masters of the skies
 
Eagles are the largest and to me the most majestic of all the raptors. East Africa has nearly 20 separate species the largest being the massive Verreaux’s Eagle which stands well nearly 1 metre (3 foot) tall, with females weighing 4.5 kgs (nearly 10 lbs) and has a wingspan of up to 2.2 metres (7ft 4in). As yet I haven't managed to photograph this species but have the next largest the Martial Eagle at 90cm (34 in) tall. (See left).
   
Vultures – Africa's Undertakers
 
Derided by many for eating carrion, and hunted to near extinction, vultures and other raptors are essential to a healthy, disease-free Africa. Cartoonists have great fun sketching vultures, with their somewhat comical looks.
 
In many animated films such as the Lion King and Jungle Book vultures come across as silly, stupid, opportunistic birds. This far from the truth, what these birds lack in looks, they certainly make up for in character.
   
Kites and Buzzards
 
East Africa has 5 species of buzzards and 3 kites although not all are common. The largest of the buzzards the Augur Buzzard is probably the region’s most common raptor and very distinctively marked.  
 
The Black Kite is often seen around habitation scavenging for leftovers. Similar in habits to the vultures kites are opportunistic hunters. They spend a lot of time soaring and gliding in thermals in search of food. Their angled wing and distinctive forked tail make them easy to identify.
 
   
Other raptor species
 
East Africa has a wealth of other raptor species including the hawks, falcons, harriers and owls as well as the strange and unique secretary bird.
 
Some are very small like the diminutive Pygmy Falcon (left) and some such as the chanting goshawks much larger. Some such as the Marsh Harrier are European migrants and spend some of their year in the UK.
 
 

 
Other East African Birds 
 
Bee Eaters and Kingfishers
 
These are the relatively small highly colourful bird species seen on safari in East Africa.
 
Bee eaters are gregarious forming colonies nesting in burrows tunnelled into sandy banks, such as those that have collapsed on the edges of rivers. As their name suggests they eat predominantly flying insects.
 
Kingfishers on the other hand are solitary but unlike their European cousins don't have a diet of fish alone.
   
Water Birds
 
Many of East Africa's birds live on or near water depending on it for food and security.
 
Some like the well-known flamingos have a diet which is so specialised that it they can only find their food in the caustic soda lakes of the rift valley. They also nest here safe from attack by animals who can't cross the highly caustic water.
   
Other East African Bird Species
 
East Africa has a host of other species of birds all of which make excellent subjects for the wildlife photographer. The following are but a selection of those I have photographed over the years. These range from the elegant weavers to the ugly Marabou Stork from the very small to the largest flightless bird alive today - the Ostrich.