Birds Masai Mara Guide

When we applied for a permit from the Kenya Wildlife Service to certify that our camp was not in a major bird migratory route, I gained a lot of knowledge about the bird population in Masai Mara. I learned about the native bird species residing in the Mara, as well as the hundreds of other species that migrate there each year. While I am not an ornithologist, I have become an avid bird watcher and have researched significantly.

The Masai Mara is a great place for birdwatching. There are nearly 500 different bird species, including 47 types of birds of prey. You can find birds in the trees, bushes, and flying in the sky. The birds vary in size, from the very large ostrich, which is the biggest bird in the world, to the small sunbirds, which can be difficult to see without binoculars.

Types of birds;

  • Savannah Birds: These birds encompass a wide range of sizes, from the ostrich, which is the largest bird in the world, to small sunbirds that can be difficult to spot without the aid of binoculars or a magnifying glass. They are typically found in the savannah grasslands and open bush. These birds include vultures, eagles, buzzards, storks, warblers, orioles, and wagtails.
  • Forest Birds: Forest birds can be found in thickly wooded areas of the Mara such as riverine forests or riparian habitats. These areas provide a perfect home for species such as the Green-backed Woodpecker, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, and Red-bellied Sunbird.
  • Migratory Birds: Many birds from Europe and Asia migrate to the Mara during certain times of year for breeding or wintering, bringing with them a variety of new species to observe. These migratory birds include doves, cuckoos, swallows, and sandpipers.No matter the type of bird you are looking for, chances are that it can be found in the Mara.
  • Water birds: Water birds are common around the rivers and other wet areas of the Mara. These include ducks, geese, herons, kingfishers, cormorants, stilts, and terns.

Where to watch birds in the Mara:

My recommended spot for birdwatching is along River Mara and in the swamps located in Mara North Conservancy. You can also find birds in the grasslands, open bush, and acacia woodlands. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some of the rarer birds of prey such as the Martial Eagle or African Fish Eagle.

When is the best time to watch birds in the reserve and conservancies;

The best time to watch birds is during the wet season (November to April) when food sources are more abundant for both native and migrating birds. During this time, you will be able to see many species of waterfowl such as ducks, geese, herons, cormorants, and other wading birds.

List of birds in Masai Mara;





Hamerkop Scopus umbretta


White Stork Ciconia ciconia

Black Stork Ciconia nigra

Abdim’s (White Bellied) Stork Ciconia abdimii

Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus

Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis

Marabou Stork Leptopilos crumeniferus

African Openbill Stork Anastomus lamelligerus

Yellow-billed Stork Mycteris ibis


Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus

Hadeda Ibis Bostrychia hagedash

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus

African Spoonbill Platalea alba


White-faced Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna viduata

Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus

Comb (Knob-billed) Duck Sarkidiornis melanotus

Northern Pintail Anas acuta

Red-billed Teal Anas erythrorhyncha

Hottentot Teal Anas bottentota


Secretarybird Sagittaruis serpentaruis


African White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus

Rüppell’s Vulture Gyps rueppellii

Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus

White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis

Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus

Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus


African Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer

Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina

Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax

Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis

Wahlberg’s Eagle Aquila wahlbergi

Verreaux’s Eagle Aquila verreauxii

African Hawk-Eagle Hieraaetus spilogaster

Booted Eagle Hieraatus pennatus

Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis

Martial Eagle Polemaetus bellicosus

Crowned-Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus

Black-chested Snake-Eagle Circaetus pectoralis

Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus

Brown Snake-Eagle Circaetus cinerus

Western Banded Snake-Eagle Circaetus cinerascens

Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus

Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus

Black Kite Milvus migrans

European Honey-Buzzard Pernis apivorus

African Cuckoo-Hawk Aviceda cuculoides

Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus

African Harrier-Hawk Polyboroides typus

Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus

Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus

African Marsh Harrier Circu ranivorus

Eurasian Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus

Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar

African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro

Little Sparrowhawk Accipiter minullus

Black Sparrowhawk Accipiter melanoleucus

Lizard Buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo

Augur Buzzard Buteo auger


Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus

Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo

Grey Kestrel Falco ardosiaceus

Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni

Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculatus

Amur Falcon Falco amurensis


Common Quail Coturnix coturnix

Harlequin Quail Coturnix delegorguei

Common Buttonquail Turnix sylvatica

Coqui Francolin Francolinus coqui

Shelley’s Francolin Scleroptila shelleyi

Scaly Francolin Francolinus squamatus

Red-necked Spurfowl Francolinus afer

Crested Francolin Dendroperdix sephaena

Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris


African Rail Rallus caerulescens

African Crake Crex egregia

Spotted Crake Porzana porzana

Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla

Corn Crake Crex crex

Black Crake Amauronis flavirostris

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

African Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio


Grey Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum

Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori

White-bellied Bustard Eupodotis senegalensis

Black-bellied Bustard Eupodotis melanogaster


African Jacana Actophilornis africanus

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus


Water Thick-knee Burhinus vermiculatus

Spotted Thick-knee Burhinus capensis


Three-banded Courser Rhinoptilus cinctus

Temminck’s Courser Cursorius temmincki


Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula

Kittlitz’s Plover Charadrius pecuarius

Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris

Caspian Plover Charadrius asiaticus

Blacksmith Lapwing Vanellus spinosus

Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus

Senegal Lapwing Vanellus lugubris

Black-winged Lapwing Vanellus melanopterus

Crowned Lapwing Vanellus coronatus

African Wattled Lapwing Vanellus crassirostris

Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis


Little Stint Calidris minuta

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea

Ruff Philomachus pugnax

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus

Common Redshank Tringa totanus

Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis

Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos


Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica

White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus


African Green Pigeon Treron calva

Tambourine Dove Turtur tympanistria

Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove Turtur chalcospilos

Blue-spotted Wood-Dove Turtur afer

Namaqua Dove Oena capensis

African Olive Pigeon Columba arquatrix

Speckled (Rock) Pigeon Columba guinea

Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata

Ring-necked Dove Streptopelia capicola

Dusky Turtle Dove Streptopelia lugens

Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis


Meyer’s Parrot Poicephalus meyeri


Ross’s Turaco Musophaga rossae

Schalow’s Turaco Tauraco schalowi

Bare-faced Go-away-bird Corythaixoides personata

Eastern Grey Plantain-eater Crinifer zonurus


Jacobin Cuckoo Oxylophus jacobinus

Levaillant’s Cuckoo Oxylophus levaillantii

Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius

Black Cuckoo Cuculus clamosus

Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius

Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus

African Cuckoo Cuculus gularis

African Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx cypreus

Klaas’s Cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas

Diderick Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius

White-browed Coucal Centropus superciliosus

Black Coucal Centropus grillii


Barn Owl Tyto alba

Spotted Eagle-Owl Bubo africanus

Verreaux’s Eagle Owl Bubo lacteus

Pel’s Fishing Owl Scotopelia peli

Pearl-spotted Owlet Glaucidium perlatum

African Wood-Owl Strix woodfordii

Marsh Owl Asio capensis


Montane Nightjar Caprimulgus poliocephalus

Eurasian Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus

Square-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus clarus

Dusky Nightjar Caprimulgus fraenatus

Swamp Nightjar Caprimulgus natalensis

Pennant-winged Nightjar Macrodipterys vexillarius


African Palm Swift Apus parvus

Common Swift Apus apus

African Black Swift Apus barbatus

Horus Swift Apus horus

Nyanza Swift Apus niansae

Mottled Swift Apus aequatorialis

Alpine Swift Apus melba

White-rumped Swift Apus caffer

Little Swift Apus affinis


Speckled Mousebird Colius Striatus

Blue-naped Mousebird Urocolius macrourus


Narina Trogon Apaloderma narina


Grey-headed Kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala

Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis

Striped Kingfisher Halcyon chelicuti

Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata

African Pygmy Kingfisher Ispidina picta

Giant Kingfisher Megaceryle maxima

Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis


European Bee-eater Merops apiaster

White-throated Bee-eater Merops albicollis

White-fronted Bee-eater Merops bullockoides

Little Bee-eater Merops pusillus

Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater Merops oreobates


European Roller Coracias garrulus

Lilac-breasted Roller Coracias caudata

Broad-billed Roller Eurystomus glaucurus


African Hoopoe Upupa africana

Green Wood Hoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus

Common Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus cyanomelas

Abyssinian Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus cabanisi


Southern Ground Hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri

Von der Decken’s Hornbill Tockus deckeni

Crowned Hornbill Tockus alboterminatus

African Grey Hornbill Tockus nasutus

Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill Bycanistes brevis


Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus bilineatus

Red-fronted Tinkerbird Tricholaema diademata

Spot-flanked Barbet Tricholaema diademata

White-headed Barbet Lubius leucocephalus

Double-toothed Barbet Lubius bidentatus

Usambiro Barbet Trachyphonus usambiro


Scaly-throated Honeyguide Indicator variegatus

Greater Honeyguide Indicator indicator

Lesser Honeyguide Indicator minor


Rufous-necked Wryneck Jynx ruficollis

Nubian Woodpecker Campethera nubica

Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni

Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens

Bearded Woodpecker Dendropicos namaquus

Grey Woodpecker Dendropicos goertae


White-tailed Lark Mirafra albicauda

Rufous-naped Lark Mirafra africana

Flappet Lark Mirafra rufocinnamomea

Fawn-coloured Lark Mirafra africanoides

Red-capped Lark Calandrella cinerea

Fischer’s Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix leucopareia


Banded Martin Riparia cincta

Brown-throated Sand Martin Riparia paludicola

Common House Martin Delichon urbica

Grey-rumped Swallow Pseudhirundo griseopyga

Book our birding safari:

We offer a custom birdwatching safari with guide trained in bird identification and conservation. Our main birding safari guide claims to have identified over 200 species of birds in the Mara ecosystem, including some of Africa’s rarest avian species. Please reach out if you are interested in our birding safari packages, we would love to welcome you and help introduce you to the wonderful birds of the Mara!


What type of bird identification do you offer?

Our main birding safari guide is trained in both traditional visual identification as well as modern audio recordings – on advance request. He can help you identify different species by sight, sound, or even behavior.

Are there any birds that are hard to find in the Mara?

There are plenty of difficult-to-find species that can be seen in the Mara, such as the African Green Pigeon, Tambourine Dove, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Blue-spotted Wood-Dove, Namaqua Dove, African Olive Pigeon and many more. The Mara also serves as a refuge for some of Africa’s rarest avian species.

How can I ensure the safety of the birds in the Mara?

We believe that it is our responsibility to ensure the protection and preservation of the bird species found in the Mara. We advise visitors to respect wildlife by keeping a safe distance and not disturbing them during their activities, especially nesting birds. Additionally, we do not condone any form of hunting of birds, and we strongly discourage the use of illegal bird trapping methods.

What other activities can I do to help protect the birds in the Mara?

Besides observing wildlife from a respectful distance and not disturbing them, there are many activities that visitors can participate in order to help conserve the ecosystem of the Mara. These include joining conservation efforts such as clean up drives, supporting local conservation initiatives, or even raising awareness about the importance of preserving this precious ecosystem and its inhabitants.

Are there any bird-watching clubs in the Mara?

Unfortunately, there are no official bird watching clubs in the Mara. However, if you’re interested in joining a group of other passionate birders, we recommend that you join an online birding community or forum to connect with like-minded enthusiasts from around the world.

Are there any guided tours for birds in the Mara?

Yes! We offer guided bird safaris in the Mara, led by our experienced guide who is knowledgeable about the different species of birds that can be seen in this area. During the tour, you will have a chance to observe and identify various species of birds with your guide’s help. Additionally, we also offer custom birding packages depending on what type of experience you would like to have. Please feel free to contact us for more information on our birding safari packages!

We hope that this blog has been helpful in introducing you to the amazing birds of the Mara and helping you understand how you can help protect these precious creatures. To learn more about bird watching in the Mara, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask our experienced guide for more information! We look forward to welcoming you and helping you discover the fascinating birds of the Mara. Happy birding!