Located in the remote west-central plains of Kenya, the Lake Baringo National Park is a birding gem. The wide variety of bird life in and around Lake Baringo makes the national park a sought after, though not overcrowded destination for bird lovers. 470+ bird species have been recorded visiting the lake and surrounding area.
Two rivers – OlArabel and El Molo feed the freshwater lake and course around OlKokwe Island, which is home to the Njemps tribe who rely on the lakes for fishing. Tourists often opt for boat trips with tour guides from the Island to explore the lake and take in the breathtaking beauty of Lake Baringo. From giant waders like the Goliath heron to beautiful sun birds such as the Eastern violet-backed sunbird, rare and exotic birds can often be seen on Lake Baringo.
The Ruko community conservancy helps maintain the unique wetland conservancy area that encourages a healthy environment, and has seen the return of once poached species such as pink backed pelicans and yellow billed storks.
With mesmerizing scenic views of the Rift valley, lake Baringo National park is also home to some of Africa’s great mammals too: hippos, hyrax and Kenya’s last greater kudu; plus the white Colombus monkey inhabit the park. The lake also is home to seven fresh water fish species including the marbled lungfish and Nile Tilapia.
Book a safari with BookallSafaris here. Take a look at 17 birds that you can see while birding at Lake Baringo National Park.
1. Hemprich’s Hornbill
One of the most beautiful hornbill species you will come across at the Lake Baringo National Park is the Hemprich’s hornbill. These birds are mainly found in South Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Uganda, and Eritrea. Their natural habitats include scrubland, bushland, and forests located near cliffs or water.
This beautiful bird has a dark brown coloration and is medium in size. Its bills is of a dull reddish coloration, along with a white belly and white streaks in the outer part of the tail. It is the red curved bill that makes them distinct from other hornbills. The signature call of these birds is a ‘keeya’ sound.
2. Jackson Hornbill
Native to North-East Uganda and North West Kenya, the Jackson Hornbill is unique in its coloring. A medium-sized hornbill, it has a white and black plumage. The bill color differs in males and females. The males have a red bill with white or yellow tips. But, females have black bills with no spots.
These exotic birds are mainly found in the dry savanna and are not solitary creatures, often traveling in small groups or pairs. These terrestrial birds do not exhibit migratory behavior and are known to be frugivores. One of the prettiest, birds you can see birding at Lake Baringo National Park.
3. Eurasian Spoonbill
The Eurasian spoonbill is a wading bird species, famed for its spatula like bill. its geographical distribution is globally, widespread, opting often for colder climates during breeding. Depending on the subspecies, they live in different parts of the world. These birds mainly prefer shallow and large wetlands. The Eurasian spoonbill is a large bird with a white body, black bill, and long black legs.
During the breeding season, the males and females develop a crest. These birds breed in colonies and remain silent most of the time. The nest is built by adult males only. They are omnivores and feed on small fishes, worms, mollusks, and insects.
4. Common Ostrich
Also known as plain ‘Ostrich’, the common ostrich is a native bird of different regions in Africa, south of the equatorial forest zone. The distinctive appearance of long legs and necks makes them different from most other bird species. Known as the largest living bird species (along with Somali variant), the feathers of the males are black, and females are white and grayish-brown.
These are mainly found on open lands and prefer savannas. They feed on small insects, reptiles, shrubs, fruit, seeds, flowers. The common ostrich is not monogamous and mates with multiple females during the breeding season. But, they are known to develop a pair bond with only one female. Interestingly, they produce the largest eggs of any bird.
5. Eleonora’s Falcon
Belonging to the Hobby group, Eleonora’s Falcon is an elegant and sophisticated bird of prey. These birds exhibit color morphism and have pointed and long wings, along with slim bodies. The lighter color variant has buff-colored underparts, while the dark one has sooty-brown coloration.
Eleonora’s Falcons are known to migrate long distances in the winter, especially to Madagascar. They prey on large birds and small insects. With a late breeding season, these migratory birds breed in colonies. Known for their shrill pitches, Eleonora’s Falcons travel and live in groups and do not generally prefer hunting alone.
6. White-crested Turaco
Belonging to the otidimorphae birds group, the white-crested turaco is native to western Kenya and eastern Nigeria. These birds have a vibrant appearance with light-greenish body plumage, black face, purplish-black, and dark bluish tail and wings. It is the head crest resembling a white Mohawk that distinguishes them from others. The arboreal birds hop throughout forests, hunting for food.
These famously vocal birds feed on small insects, seeds, leaves, fruits, and flowers. During the breeding season, the males show off their red feathers while chasing females in the forest. These territorial birds use loud calls for communication in the dense foliage.
7. Verreaux’s Eagle
Also known as the black eagle, the Verreaux’s Eagle is a large bird of prey. These birds mostly reside in the mountainous parts of the south, west, and eastern parts of Africa. The large-sized eagles have a jet-black coloration along with a yellow-colored cere. The eyebrows and eye-rings stand out from its distinctive black plumage.
The Verreaux’s Eagle has specific habitats and is found in kopjes and dry regions. They hunt mainly two forms of prey – the yellow-spotted rock hyrax and the Cape hyrax. These birds are partial migrants and are dependent on cliffs for nesting. Both males and females are involved in nest construction. They can be seen floating on updrafts over Lake Baringo National Park.
8. Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird
A popular and dazzling bird you can observe at Lake Baringo National Park is the Eastern violet-backed sunbird. These diminutive birds are also known as Kenya violet-backed sunbirds and though are predominantly found in the arid savanna, they too arrive at Baringo in force. The violet hues of the bird makes them a birders favorite.
These small-sized, these birds have multiple bright colors on their plumage. The blue, green, and violet coloration leads to an interesting color palette. They belong to the violet-backed sunbird super species. Not much is known about the birds that are often seen in East Africa.
9. Bristle-crowned Starling
The bristle-crowned starling is mainly found in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. These bright birds have a blue-black coloration along with a long tail. You can also see yellow streaks in the underparts. The small bill accompanied by the tiny tuff of hair on the head charachterizes these interesting birds.
Bristle-crowned starlings do not migrate and are often seen at the Lake Baringo National Park. Famed for their short and varied vocalizations, they often make a “chu-bit sound.”
10. Fox Kestrel
The Fox Kestrel belongs to the falcon family and is a beautiful bird of prey. These birds have a slender, large body along with narrow wigs. The female is slightly larger than the male, and the tail has both barred and unbarred feathers. In the plumage, you will see black streaks below and dark wing tips with a dominant russet color elsewhere.
These birds prefer the open and arid lands of the northern area of Sub-Saharan Africa. They mostly breed in the savanna and are sedentary creatures. However, some do migrate during colder winters. The Fox kestrel glides while hunting using its long wingspan: 76–88 cm (30–35 in) and swoops from its perch where it feeds on lizards, insects, small mammals.
11. Grayish Eagle Owl
A great bird that you can often see on Lake Baringo National Park is the grayish eagle owl. These are large owl species mainly found in the northern areas of sub-Saharan Africa. These birds have a spotted appearance with a mottled dark brown appearance, along with white upper parts. They have distinctive dark brown eyes and short tarsi.
These birds prefer rocky and dry deserts, along with open savanna, and are mainly found in the northern region of Sub-Saharan Africa. They consume larger arthropods, insects, and vertebrates. The omnivorous birds mainly hunt from a perch but also catch prey mid-flight. Their breeding biology is quite similar to the spotted eagle-owl.
12. Three-streaked Tchagra
An uncommon bird found in the semi-desert regions is the three-streaked Tchagra. These song birds are mainly found in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, and South Sudan. Their natural habitats include dry shrub land and savanna. Tchagra have a dark brown coloration along with three dark namesake streaks.
These camouflaged birds generally feed on insects but can also prey on small birds. The white tips in the tail and rufous wings make the bird distinctive in appearance. The three-streaked tchagra consists of a median black stripe on the crown. Their famous common form of communication is a series of high-pitched whistles.
13. Allen’s Gallinule
Allen’s gallinule is a group of waterbirds that belong to the Rallidae family. These are small-sized birds with blue and green plumage. With red legs with long toes, small red bills, and a short tail, their bright colors make them a birders favorite. Previously known as the lesser gallinule, these birds often frequent the Lake Baringo National park.
Their natural habitat consists of lakes and marshes and is partially migratory. These birds primarily feed on aquatic animals and insects. They are extremely secretive during the breeding season, where they can be heard and often not seen.
14. Northern Red Bishop
Also known as the orange bishop, the northern red bishop is a dazzling, small-sized bird. These passerine birds display a unique reddish-orange in contrast with the black plumage during the breeding season. Their most distinctive feature is the red-orange feathers that occur due to the components in their diet. Non-breeding males and females interestingly, do not have vibrant plumage.
These birds are generally found in cultivated regions near marshes and water and tall grasslands. Northern red bishops are polygynous and sexually dimorphic. They do not mate with a single female and attract females with their plumage. These birds feed on insects and grass seeds.
15. Pygmy Batis
Pygmy batis belongs to the wattle-eyes family. These are small-sized birds that are mainly seen at the northeast African savannas. They are tiny birds with dapper black, grey, and white coloration. The males and the females have some differences in their appearance. Their choice of habitat includes bushy grassland and semi-arid and arid lowlands.
These arboreal birds are active and often live in small groups of pairs. They feed on small insects from the twigs and leaves within foliage. However, their breeding biology is not much known.
16. Goliath Heron
Belonging to the Heron family, the Goliath heron is a large-sized wading bird. These are mainly found in Sub-Saharan Africa. Known as the biggest living herons in the world, these birds have chestnut and slate gray feathers. The males and the females have similar appearances. Their most distinctive feature is their deep koo woork bark.
These aquatic birds rarely leave the water source and thus fly nearby to hunt prey. They are solitary foragers and are territorial when it comes to feeding territories. These birds are diurnal and mostly prey on fish. Their nesting dispersal includes solitary pairs, large colonies, and mixed-species colonies.
17. White-billed buffalo Weaver
Widespread in the southern part of the Sahara in Africa, the white-billed buffalo weaver is a resident breeder. These are relatively large in size have black and white flecks on their back. The thick conical bill is accompanied by a whitish frontal shield. The breeding males have white bills, while the non-breeding males and females have black bills.
These birds generally feed on insects and grain. They mainly reside in colonies and are extremely noisy and are a favorite to visitors to the park.
Apart from these 17 birds, you can also spot other rare and wonderful birds at Lake Baringo National Park. For instance, you can observe the beautiful Madagascar Bee-eaters or the elusive Brown-tailed Rock Chat. Moreover, you can also see Parrot-billed Sparrow, Chestnut Weavers, Grey Wren Warbler, and D’Anold’s Barbet. Prepare to get mesmerized on your trip to the Lake Baringo National Park. Book a safari birding on Lake Bogoria and lake Baringo with BookallSafaris.
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