Birdwatching Destinations in Tanzania | Important Birding Areas (IBAs)

Birdwatching Destinations in Tanzania | Top-rated Important Birding Areas or Spots. This page explains the best birding Destinations in Tanzania;

Tanzania is a crucial nation for ornithology. With over 1,000 species, it boasts one of the most extensive species lists of any African nation, with over 800 species being residents and about 200 species migrating often. There are 56 species that are of concern for global conservation, of which 21 are indigenous to Tanzania and another 43 are found in just one or two other nations.

Tanzania is home to portions of several Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs), including the Tanzania-Malawi Mountains, where 32 of the country’s restricted-range species are found, the Albertine Rift Mountains, the Serengeti Plains, where all six restricted-range species are found, the Kenyan Mountains, where five of the country’s nine restricted-range species are found, the East African Coastal Forests, where five of the continent’s seven restricted-range species are found, and Pemba Three further sites with endemic secondary bird populations include: South-west Tanzanian swamps; Kilombero floodplain; and Dry woodlands west of Lake Victoria.

A group of african birds perched on a wattle, many northern white-crowned shrikes, Eurocephalus rueppelli, and a superb starling, Lamprotornis superbus, found in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Birdwatching Destinations in Tanzania

Tanzania contains portions of six biome-limited areas: the Guinea-Congo Forests, where 56 of its restricted range species have been reported; the Lake Victoria basin; the Afrotropical Highlands; the Somali Masai; the East African coast; and the Zambezian biome; each of which contains 40 species.

The 80 Important Birding Areas (IBAs) in Tanzania range in size from 3 to 5 million hectares and cover a total of more than 167,000 km2, or roughly 18 percent, of the country’s total geographical area. Only a few of the most well-known Tanzania Important Birding Areas (IBAs) are listed here.

  • Mount Kilimanjaro; is forested between 1,500 m and 3,000 m with the National Park lying above 2,700 m. It is home to a variety of alpine and woodland species, including the Hill Chat Cercomela sordida and the Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird Nectarinia johnstoni. Additionally well recognized are Abbott’s Starling Pholia femoralis and Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus.
  • Ruaha National Park is one of the driest protected areas in Tanzania and has a list of over 400 species. It holds important populations of two Tanzanian endemics Ashy Starling Lamprotornis unicolor and Yellow-collared Lovebird Agapornis personatus.
  • The Serengeti National Park is one of the best-known National Parks in Africa, lying between Lake Victoria and the Eastern Rift Valley, adjacent to Kenya’s Masai Mara Reserve, and bordering the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The Park holds three Tanzanian endemics Grey-breasted Spurfowl Francolinus rufopictus, Fischer’s Lovebird Agapornis fischeri, and Rufous-tailed Weaver Histurgops ruficaudus. Many large flocks of African and Palearctic migrants are easily observed in the Serengeti during peak migratory periods.
  • Selous Game Reserve lies in the south-east of Tanzania and with an area of 50,000 km2 is one of the largest protected areas in Africa. There is no official species list for this site but numerous miombo endemics occur here, and the Rufigi River is excellent for water birds such as African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris.
  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area is part of the crater highlands and varies in altitude from 1,700 m at the crater floor to some 3,000 m at the rim. Over 500 species are known from this site including the largest known population of Fischer’s Lovebird Agapornis fischeri. Several important wetlands lie within the site, which is important for both Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber and Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor. Large mammals, including the endangered Black Rhinoceros, are cradled in this scenic caldera.
  • Dar es Salaam Coast includes tidal mudflats, river inlets, saltpans, mangroves, thickets, and offshore islands which create a diverse habitat with a remarkable list of over 450 species. It is of major importance for migratory waders including Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Little Stint Calidris minuta, and Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea.
  • Lake Victoria has four(Important Birding Areas) IBA’s which are important for cormorants, egrets, and herons, and one of which Rubondo Island National Park holds Sitatunga and Spotted-necked Otters.
  • Lake Natron is a shallow soda lake on the floor of the Eastern Rift valley and extends 58 km south of the Kenyan border. It is the most important breeding site for the majority of the world population of Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor and its arid surrounding habitat, especially if one traverses across the country toward Mt. Longido and West Kilimanjaro plains, offers unique opportunities for Buff-crested Bustard Eupodotis gindiana, Spike-heeled Lark Chersomanes albofasciata, etc. It is also excellent for mammals such as Gerenuk, Steenbok, and occasionally Lesser Kudu.
  • Mkomazi Game Reserve holds a number of species that are found at the southern limit of their range, extending to the southern base of the South Pare Mountains. These include Friedmann’s Lark Mirafra pulpa, Pygmy Batis Batis perkeo, Three-streaked Tchagra Tchagra jamesi, Shelley’s Starling Lamprotornis shelleyi, and Pringle’s Puffback Dryoscopus pringlii.
  • Kitulo Plateau National Park is one of the best places to see Denham’s Bustard Neotis denhami and Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea as well as amazing ground orchids.
  • Zanzibar has two (Important Birding Areas) IBA’s which are important for waders and terns including non-breeding populations of Crab-plover Dromas ardeola. In addition, the Jozani Forest Reserve on Zanzibar contains the only remaining forest on the island and holds endemic races of Fischer’s Turaco Tauraco fischeri, Little Greenbul Andropadus virens, and Grey Sunbird Cyanomitra veroxii. East Coast Akalat Sheppardia gunningi can be found as well as a number of interesting mammal species such as Zanzibar Red Colobus, Ader’s Duiker and Pemba Flying Fox.
  • Kilombero floodplain is 260 km long and up to 52 km wide, the Kilombero floodplain in Tanzania is one of the largest wetlands in Africa. This confluence of rivers and seasonally-flooded marshes and swamps is home to a rich array of birdlife, including species that are endemic to the region, such as the Kilombero weaver, Kilombero cisticola, Melodius cisticola, Iringa akalat, and the Dappled throated mountain robin.
  • Lindi District Coastal Forests are important for coastal forest birds such as Southern Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus fasciolatus, East Coast Akalat Sheppardia gunningi, Spotted Ground-Thrush Zoothera guttata, and other specialities like Livingstone’s Flycatcher Erythrocercus livingstonei.
  • Pemba Island lies 55 km off the mainland and holds 4 endemic species, Pemba Green Pigeon Treron pembaensis, Pemba Scops Owl Otus pembaensis, Pemba Sunbird Cinnyris pembae, and Pemba White-eye Zosterops vaughani.
  • East Usambara mountains are one of the most important areas on the African mainland for the conservation of globally threatened species. Usambara Eagle Owl Bubo vosseleri, Sokoke Scops Owl Otus ireneae, Long-billed Tailorbird Orthotomus moreaui, Dappled Mountain-Robin Arcanator orostruthus, Swynnerton’s Robin Swynnertonia swynnertoni and Usambara Weaver Ploceus nicolli all occur here. The West Usambara mountains have been less studied outside the Lushoto area but are nonetheless important for species such as Usambara Akalat Sheppardia montana, Banded Sunbird Anthreptes rubritorques, Sharpe’s Starling Pholia sharpii, and Usambara Weaver Ploceus nicolli. The best locations to find this species regularly are Mazumbai and Magamba.
  • The Uluguru mountains are situated about halfway between Udzungwa and Dar and are the only locality for Uluguru Bush-Shrike Malaconotus alius and Loveridge’s Sunbird Cinnyris loveridgei as well as 5 endemic subspecies. If lucky, Abbott’s Duiker, one of the rarest African antelopes may be seen.
  • Udzungwa mountains to the south-west of Dar es Salaam have forest reserves that hold species such as Udzungwa Partridge Xenoperdix udzungwensis, Dappled Mountain-Robin Arcanator orostruthus, Sharpe’s Akalat Sheppardia sharpei, Olive-flanked Robin-Chat Cossypha anomala, and White-chested Alethe Alethe fuelleborni. The area can be reached from a variety of places, but the best is the ascent to the spectacular Sanje waterfalls from the base of the Udzungwa National Park HQ at Mangula.
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