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The Birds of Tanzania

Among the birds of Tanzania you find some of the most beautiful, diverse and unique birds in the world. Although the majority of people come to Tanzania for their dream to see the Big Five or the Great Wildebeest Migration, one look at pictures of all the incredible birds of Tanzania will surely make them expand their dreams.

Seeing these majestic feathered creatures, big and small, in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience. In this article we tapped into the expert knowledge of our birds of Tanzania guides to come up with a top 10 birds of Tanzania. Grab a cup of tea, make yourself comfortable and enjoy!

 

bird of tanzania in Arusha National Park, Tanzania

 

Tanzania: a paradise for bird lovers

It is unknown exactly how many bird species exactly can be found in Tanzania, but the estimate is around one thousand different species. Some birds of Tanzania have not been seen in years. Others are around wherever look – and that’s when our birds of Tanzania guides come in helpful on your Tanzania safari!

 

birds of tanzania mountain landscape

 

10 birds you can see on a Tanzania safari

Rufous-tailed weaver – Serengeti National Park

With its 20 to 22 centimetres, chestnut coloured feathers and dark spots, the rufous-tailed weaver might not be the most colourful fellow. However, what makes it unique is that it’s an endemic bird of Tanzania. This means that this beautiful bird is found nowhere else on planet earth. From July to February, the male birds build their nests during the breeding season, often in the baobabs that the Serengeti National Park is famous for.

Silvery-cheeked hornbill – Lake Manyara National Park

The silvery-cheeked hornbill enjoys a very relaxed life and spends each breeding season with just one partner. For their meals, they often meet up with other couples in fruit-bearing trees, so don’t be surprised: you might see more than 100 hornbills at the same time! And if you want to impress your fellow adventurers with a fun fact: you can easily distinguish between the male and female hornbill by looking at their beaks. Males have a prominent casque over their entire beak while females have a much shorter one—a fantastic sight for epic pictures of birds of Tanzania. 

Fisher’s lovebird – Serengeti National Park

Even though they are only 14 centimetres in length, and thus belong to the smallest birds of Tanzania, the small Fisher’s lovebird is easy to spot with their bright green and orange plumage. As their name suggests, these parrots take their romantic life seriously: they are monogamous and spend their whole life with one partner. Furthermore, they have mastered the gender-neutral look: looking at their feathers, you cannot tell whether you see a male or female. 

 

Tawny Eagle – Tarangire National Park

From one of the smallest parrots in Tanzania, to a large bird of pray on top 10 birds of Tanzania. The Tawney eagle has a wingspan of up to 190 centimetres. This eagle is called ‘roofarend’ in Afrikaans, which means ‘robber eagle’. With a diet of carrion, this Tanzania bird is considered quite aggressive when it robs its prey from other birds – a way of feeding that is called kleptoparasitism. So be aware!

Black heron – Lake Manyara National Park

The black heron is an extremely sharp-witted, pitch-black bird with a size of 42 to 66 centimetres. To catch fish it steps into shallow water, bows its head and then spreads its wings around it, forming a feathery canopy. By doing so, he can clearly see what’s going on underwater and catch fish more easily. Sometimes you can also catch the heron hanging around the African sacred ibis. The ibis stirs up the fish through the water, after which the black heron simply swoops in and catches the fish. Fast food on a busy day!

Red and yellow barbet – Tarangire National Park

The red and yellow barbet is one of the sweetest birds in Tanzania. Well known for their beautiful (and loud) voices, their singing has a great rhythm to it. Their beautiful songs often last for a full two minutes and are accompanied by calls from other birds. This grand stage also needs a stunning outfit, and with a red head, yellow chest and black wings with white spots, the red and yellow barbet ticks that box exceptionally well. With so many qualities, it doesn’t even matter that the wingspan of a red and yellow barbet is only around 10 centimetres!

Flamingo – Arusha National Park

We all know that female birds sometimes pick their mate based on very specific criteria, like the most original dance or the most beautiful nest. The flamingo, prevalent in Arusha National Park, is one of them. During the mating season the males get together in a large group. In perfect synchronicity, they flap their wings, turn their heads and sing. After this performance the couples find each other and subsequently stay together for life. If you’re lucky enough to catch them in this beautiful mating ritual, you will undoubtedly make one of your most beautiful and unique pictures of birds of Tanzania.

 

Golden-breasted Starling – Mkomazi National Park

During your safari in Mkomazi National Park, make sure to keep your eyes open for the golden-breasted starling. Thanks to its fantastic plumage it’s a bird that’s not hard to miss. The upper part of this bird is coloured in iridescent blue, green and purple. The belly is golden-yellow, and to top it off this starling has a very long tail. Ask your birds of Tanzania guide for the tips to recognise the birds of Tanzania during your luxury safari. 

Pel’s fishing owl – Ruaha National Park

You can only find Pel’s fishing owl in countries in Africa. However, you need to be lucky to actually see one. Because, like all nocturnal animals, Pel’s fishing owl only hunts at dusk, dawn and night. Also, with its red-brownish plumage, it perfectly blends into the trees where it spends most of its day cuddled up with its mate. However, if the owl doesn’t find enough food during the night, you might also see it during the day. So keep your eyes open!

Ostrich

In a top 10 list of Tanzania birds, we cannot miss out on the worlds’ biggest bird: the ostrich! There is much to say about this magnificent bird, but our favorite ostrich facts are: 

  • The ostrich cannot fly.
  • It has three stomachs.
  • It can sprint up to 70 km/h.
  • The males have black and white plumage, and the females are brown-greyish.
  • With its long legs and a forward kick, it can actually kill a predator like a lion or even a human… theoretically 😉
  • Contrary to popular belief, ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand.
  • Their mating process is highly complicated, and to win over a lady, the males have to give it their all – listen to the great David Attenborough explaining this below. 

 

Birding Safari: our best tips

Can’t wait to hop into the 4×4 and go on a bird watching tour yourself? Check out our 10-day safari through all northern national parks with a high bird density – from Tarangire and Lake Manyara to the famous Serengeti and the breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater. 

It might also be worth your while to stay in the Manyara Best View Lodge: it is close to the great escarpment, next to a protected wildlife zone and gives you precisely that level of comfort you need after an exciting day of animal spotting.

Questions about our Africa bird safaris? 

In addition to serving up in-depth knowledge of the Big Five and the incredible Tanzania environment, our birds of Tanzania field guides are amazingly good in identifying hundreds of beautiful bird species.

Do you want to know how to craft the perfect itinerary, that allows you to capture as many pictures of birds of Tanzania as possible? You might travel to Tanzania for the lions but leave with the red-and-yellow barbet in mind. Get in touch with the Tanzania Specialist team and start planning your dream Tanzania bird safari.