Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Birds of the Mara

We spend a lot of time focusing on the mammals of the Mara, e.g. hyenas, lions, and other large carnivores but the Maasai Mara is also one of the top birding destinations in the world. I just started keeping track of my bird sightings (using an app called ebird from the Cornell Ornithology Lab) and I've already documented over 100 new species. Here's a few of my favorites!

Birds of Prey: 
The most impressive bird of prey in the Mara, the Martial Eagle. This one is a juvenile.
Next, the Bateleur. Another very impressive eagle. This one is easy to spot while it's flying due to it's uniquely shaped wings and very short tail. Close up, its red face is a give away.

Here's a juvenile Bateleur. 
This is a Fish Eagle, similar to America's Bald Eagle.

The tawny eagle, a common but impressive sight in the Mara. They hunt and scavenge.
A black-shouldered kite, another common site in the Mara. They're have bright red eyes.
A Verraux's Eagle Owl, a slightly less common sight.

Common birds in camp:

The spot-flanked barbet, a common visitor to our Talek camp.
The brown-throated wattle-eye. These birds have unique red patches above their eyes.

The tropical boubou. A common breakfast table visitor in  our Serena camp.
Black-backed puffback. Similar to the tropical boubou but with red eyes.

A speckled mouse bird. These guys are always hanging sideways on their branches.
A beautiful male African Paradise Flycatcher. They often zip around near our choo (latrine).

A slate-coloured boubou. This one likes to hop around underneath the breakfast table.
A Common Bulbul. We have these guys all over camp and they're easy to spot due to the yellow under their tails. 
A Red-Fronted Tinkerbird. This guy is in the wood-pecker family and is often seen near the choo in Talek camp.

A beautiful and striking Purple Grenadier.  I often see these guys in the thinner scrub around the edge of our Talek camp.

Some birds from around the Mara:

An African Green Pigeon. They blend in really well with the leaves of a Fig Tree.

The White-browed Coucal.

A Northern Shrike. 

The popular Helmeted Guinea Fowl that often graces napkins, dish towels, and mugs.

The red-billed hornbill, also known as Zazu. 

The Southern Ground Hornbill. These birds are large and impressive and also make a very low booming sound.

What African bird list wouldn't be complete without the Common Ostrich? 

The Red-necked Francolin. A grassland bird that likes to hang out on the tracks we drive on.
A Lilac-breasted Roller. This is one of  the most eye-catching common birds of the Mara (see below).

Anytime you see a flash of iridescent blue... it's the Lilac-breasted Roller.


The Pied Kingfisher is a frequent sight along small creeks.

The Giant Kingfisher is truly giant. This guy is the size of a soccer ball. I've only seen one once!

The Woodland Kingfisher. These are also a slightly less frequent sight along creeks. I've seen them a few times.

Birds on mammals:
Anytime you see a bird on a Zebra or Buffalo it's almost always the Yellow-billed Oxpecker (more common in the Mara than the Red-billed Oxpecker).

The Oxpeckers all seem to like to choose the same Zebra.

Every once in a while you'll see a Wattled Starling on the Zebra instead of an Oxpecker.

Parrots, Sunbirds, and Bee-eaters.

Meyer's Parrot AKA the Brown Parrot. I saw this one in camp by the choo.
The Variable Sunbird, identifiable by its bright yellow belly. Sunbirds are tiny hummingbird sized animals that almost always have some kind of iridescent coloring on them.

The Mariqua sunbird. Males have a collar of green, blue and purple.

The Brimstone Canary, a common yellow bird in camp.

Two beautiful Little Bee-eaters.
Glossy Starlings:

The common Ruppell's Starling. These iridescent purple birds are frequent beggars at the breakfast table.

The slightly less frequently seen Hildebrand's Starling.

The Superb Starling. Its coloring is pretty superb.

A Greater Blue-eared Starling. Their yellow eyes against blue and teal feathers is quite striking!
Herons, Lapwings, Storks, etc.

The Grey Heron, similar to America's Great Blue Heron.

Another large Heron, the Black-headed Heron.

The most obnoxious Lapwing, the Crowned Lapwing. These guys are constantly screaming at our car for disturbing them, but rightly so... they're often defending their eggs and chicks, like this adorable tiny little guy! 

Temminck's Courser. A cool looking smaller bird.

The Black-winged Lapwing. Say that ten times fast!

The classic Saddle-billed Stork.

Two Egyptian Geese. We have a water hole named after them in Happy Zebra territory.

The graceful Grey-crowed Crane.
Last of all, the extremely homely Marabou Stork.
There are hundreds more birds here in the Mara and I couldn't share all of them, but I hope you got the idea that the Mara is an amazing place to see a lot of bird diversity!

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