Birds of Masai Mara

A bird-watcher’s paradise with over 470 bird species to spot.

Birdwatching in the Masai Mara isn’t for the birds. With almost 500 bird species and a daunting 47 species of birds of prey, the Masai Mara’s treetops, bushes and skies are a feast for birdwatcher’s eyes. Size wise these savannah birds range from freakishly large, such as the world’s largest bird the ostrich, to teeny tiny sunbirds – hard to spot with the naked eye.

Year-round birdwatching delight

Look up to the skies to see bateleurs soaring high above the grassy plains and scan the savannah to see any of the six species of vultures scavenging the carcasses of animals of prey. No matter what time of year you visit the Masai Mara, you’re bound to see some very special feathered friends. The best time of year for birdwatching however is from November through April when European and Northern African migratory birds arrive. This coincides with the rainy season, a time of year when many birds can be seen in their 'breeding' plumage.

Big on birds - the grasslands

The grasslands are home to turkey-sized Ground Hornbills, Secretary Birds, Kori Bustards, Jaunty Crowned-Plovers and flocks of White Storks. Spectacular flocks of Crowned Cranes, Saddle-Billed Storks, groups of Yellow-Billed Storks and Sacred Ibis can be spotted in the swamplands. This is also a great place to spot the Goliath Heron, Grey Heron, Black-headed Heron and Great White Egret. Masai Mara’s Musiara Marsh is an excellent spot to do some birdwatching. It’s the only place in Kenya where the Rufous-bellied Heron breeds and where you can spot the endangered Madagascar Squacco Heron between October and May.

River birds

Head over to the Mara River to spot any one of seven species of kingfishers, from the Giant Kingfisher to the tiny Pygmy Kingfisher. The forests lining the river are home to the colourful Ross’s Turaco and the Schalow’s Turaco. The most impressive birds of the Mara are the birds of prey, from the mighty Martial Eagle to the tiny Pygmy Falcon. The Martial Eagle is so strong it is known to feast on young impala and dikdik. However, the most iconic of the birds of prey is the Bateleur. Looking up and watching a Bateleur glide across the clear blue African skies is quite a memorable sight to see.

Bird list

The list below contains all of the known endemic bird species (E) to Kenya and the near-endemic bird species (NE) common to the region.

  • Abdim's Stork
  • African finfoot
  • African wood owl
  • Ayres's hawk eagle
  • Cinnamon-breasted bunting
  • Denham’s bustard
  • Giant kingfisher
  • Grey-crested helmet-shrike (NE)
  • Grey penduline tit
  • Hildebrandt's starling
  • Jackson’s widowbird
  • Lazy cisticola
  • Ostrich
  • Purple grenadier
  • Red-throated tit
  • Ross's turaco
  • Rosy-throated longclaw
  • Rufous-bellied heron
  • Rufous-throated wryneck
  • Saddle-billed stork
  • Schalow's turaco
  • Secretary bird
  • Silverbird
  • Southern ground hornbill
  • Swahili sparrow
  • Tabora cisticola
  • Temminck's courser
  • Trilling cisticola
  • Usambiro barbet (NE)
  • White-bellied go-away bird
  • Woolly-necked stork
  • Yellow-mantled widowbird
  • Yellow-throated sandgrouse

Further reading