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Birds of East Africa

Updated on January 8, 2014

Secretary Bird on the Savanna

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Secretary Bird

The secretary bird is the raptor with the longest legs and spends miles a day walking in addition to flying. The name is thought to come from the Arabic phrase "saqu ettair" which means Hunter bird and translates into French as "Secretaire", or because of resembling a male secretary with a quill pen stuck in his hair. This 3-4 foot tall bird dines largely on snakes and reptiles, routing them out of their holes with foot-stomping and chasing them in a zig-zag pattern to confuse them.

Lilac Breasted Roller

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Lilac Breasted Roller

The Lilac Breasted Roller is the national bird of both Kenya and Botswana. It is a member of the roller family and is found in much of Sub-Saharan Africa. It likes to eat insects, snails, and small rodents. You will generally find them perched on trees, clotheslines or wires from which they can dive and catch small prey.

Openbill Stork

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The Openbill Stork lives close to marshes, swamps and lakes and frequents the Lake Victoria basin in Kenya. It uses its uniquely shaped bill to feed on mollusks by holding the mollusk with its top mandible and slicing the muscle with its lower mandible. It also enjoys snails and frogs.

Verraux's Eagle Owl

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Although Verreaux's Eagle Owl is not rare, it is not often seen in the wild. It is nocturnal and has a wide territory making it difficult to see on your average birding adventure. It was special to obtain the photo above. This Eagle Owl is about 2 feet in length and generally has a wingspan of around 55 inches. It weighs between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 pounds and is most remembered for it's pink eyelids

Hadada Ibis in Mombasa

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The Hadada Ibis is a mostly terrestrial bird along the lines of a stork, heron or flamingo. It makes a loud Ha Da Da sound when it flies accounting for its name. This bird is carnivorous and likes to eat things like worms and snails in the daytime. It is also able to use its curved beak in water to feel for food. It usually forages in small groups and nests in pairs.

Cattle Egret in Masai Mara

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The cattle egret is a small heron that likes to live in areas with grazing cattle and buffalo. It eats the ticks and flies from the backs of the cattle and is often seen in the company of oxpeckers. In breeding plumage it has wispy plumes and often has some pink to peach coloration in its head and chest feathers.

African Grey Parrot Landing in Nesting tree Outside Our home in Lubowa, Uganda

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African Grey Parrots Eating Seed Pods
African Grey Parrots Eating Seed Pods | Source

African Grey Parrots are seen through the sub-rain-forest areas of Western, Central and part of Eastern Africa. They feed on plants, leaf matter, seeds, insects and snails. Wild caught birds are listed as restricted for sale because it would decimate the wild population. African Greys are intelligent birds and capable of human like vocalizations. They are popular as exotic pets. I was able to photograph a couple of young men stealing the chick out of the nest pictured above and have the police catch them. We were able to return the chick to the nest and have the privilege of watching the parents feed it and watch it take flight.

Goliath Heron at Haller Park in Bamburi

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The Goliath Heron is the world's largest heron, standing at 4-5 feet tall. It has grey and chestnut feathers and black and white streaks on its breast area. It usually likes to forage for fish, snails and insects in Mangrove Swamps.

African Wood Stork/ Yellow-Billed Stork in Bamburi, Kenya

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The African Wood Stork is a large wading stork. It has a black tail, yellow bill and red area surrounding the eye and upper bill. These storks tend to fish by opening their bill underneath the water and when a fish touches its bill it claps it shut. Although it eats small fish, it eats large quantities.

Yellow Necked Spur Fowl/ Francolin

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The Yellow-necked Francolin lives in the arid grasslands of Eastern Africa. It is named for the bare yellow throat patch. The birds are generally terrestrial and like to eat insects, seeds and vegetable matter. The males often have a spur on the back of the foot.

Great Blue Turaco

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Great Blue Turaco in Uganda

The great blue turaco is the largest species of turaco. It is on the red list for threatened species. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo they are hunted for their blue and yellow tail feathers which are used in making good luck charms. They are also eaten for meat. The great blue turaco has a loud, almost laughing call.

Great Cormorants near Murchison Falls, Uganda

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On the boat trip to the base of Murchison Falls you will see hippos and many birds including these great cormorants. The cormarant is related to the Ganet and Pelican. This particular cormorant has green eyes. They eat fish as the staple of their diet which they catch under water with their hooked bill.

African Pied Wagtail in Jinja, Uganda

African Pied Wagtail by the Nile
African Pied Wagtail by the Nile | Source

The African Pied Wagtail, although it is a threatened species, can be found throughout much of Africa. It likes to frequent areas near the water or lowlands that are inundated with water periodically. The diet consists mainly of insects and tadpoles. It likes to pump its tail up and down, thus getting the name wagtail.

Water Thicknee/ Dikkop

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This bird likes to live along the edges of riverbanks, mangrove swamps, lake shores, and undisturbed coastal shores. It likes some type of bushes or shrubbery for cover. It is located in much of the Southern half of Africa. It is a fairly sedentary bird that likes to eat insects, worms and millipedes, crustaceans, tadpoles, and grass seed. It is threatened by humans and dogs on beaches. It has captivating eyes.

Maribou Stork

The Maribou Stork is a scavenger. You will find it next to garbage, fish hatcheries and other places where scraps of food are left around. The Maribou is tall, reaching up to 5 feet with a wingspan of 9 to 12 feet. On land it looks slow and gangly but soars elegantly in flight. This bird is sometimes known as the "Undertaker" due to its black cloak like wings and long skinny legs.

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    • Lenzy profile image
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      Lenzy 4 years ago from Arlington, Texas

      Thank you Emmanuel,

      I first became interested in bird-watching in your beautiful country. There are so many interesting and beautiful species. Lenzy

    • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

      Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Great photos of birds. I have seen most of the birds as staffed specimens at the Nairobi Museum. It great to see them in their true habitats. Shared!

    • Lenzy profile image
      Author

      Lenzy 5 years ago from Arlington, Texas

      Thank you frogyfish,

      I am glad to be able to share some of the beautiful birds which I saw in Africa over the eight years that I spent there. The bird life was amazing. Lenzy

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 5 years ago from Central United States of America

      Your bird photos and descriptions are intriguing...have never seen any of those 'foreign birds', though it would be an interesting trip just to do so. Thank you for sharing your pix and knowledge.

    • Lenzy profile image
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      Lenzy 5 years ago from Arlington, Texas

      Thank you Storytellersrus. I am glad to have you link to my hub on East African Birds. I hope to add some in the future. Lenzy

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      How fun is this?!!! I am going to link this to my Birds of Africa hub. Very cool!

    • Lenzy profile image
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      Lenzy 5 years ago from Arlington, Texas

      Aviannovice, I am glad to have you onboard, reading my bird and wild life hubs. Thank you for the kind words. I wish I could be out there bird watching now. Lenzy

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Good material, Lenzy! Birds are my first love. I got photos of the Cattle Egret here in Oklahoma strutting. I like to photograph and write about wild birds, too. Voted up and awesome.

    • Lenzy profile image
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      Lenzy 5 years ago from Arlington, Texas

      Thanks Roohi. I love bird watching, especially in East Africa. I'm glad you enjoyed seeing some of them and hope that you can see them for real, someday. Lenzy

    • profile image

      Roohi Khan 5 years ago from India

      Wow! These birds are just so gorgeous. I hope I get to see them in reality some day. Thanks for posting these!

    • Lenzy profile image
      Author

      Lenzy 5 years ago from Arlington, Texas

      Thank you. My writing is not as frequent due to a full time job, but I still plan to keep it up as I am able. Thank you for the kind comments. I hope you visit Africa some day. I know that you will do it justice in your photos and descriptions. Lenzy

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Lenzy, let me be the first to say well done. Really enjoyed reading about the birds of East Africa and the photos are just splendid. One of these days I'll get to Africa, your Hubs just make me want to go sooner rather than later. Voted up and everything else.

      Bill