There are birds that you see everyday. They’re a normal part of your everyday life. For anyone interested in bird watching and learning how to identify birds, these are the ones you should start with. Even if you don’t know their names, you are familiar with them because you see them on a daily basis. So it will be easy to remember their names once you learn them.
To begin the Ndege Wetu series, let’s take a look at some of these ‘everyday birds’. The list below is in no particular order. I will mainly focus on the birds that are easy to distinguish.
At the end I’ll also share a few resources and tips that you can use to learn how to identify the birds around you.
Here are some of the everyday birds in the lives of Kenyans:
Those are just a few of the ‘everyday birds’ that most Kenyans encounter in their daily lives. There are many more of course. If you would like to get to know the birds around you better, here are a few tips:
Join a local bird-watching group/club. If you live around Nairobi, the best group to join is Nature Kenya, which holds weekly bird walks around Nairobi and also does trips to further parts of the country. Other groups that hold birding activities include A Rocha Kenya at the coast and several local university clubs across the country. Birding with others who are good at bird identification is a very effective way of learning to identify birds.
Go on a birding tour/safari with a professional birding guide. Most safari guides are good with the big mammals, but there are a few who are additionally very knowledgeable about birds. Some operate locally in their home area (local guides), others work freelance throughout the country and others work with a specific tour company. A good birding guide can help you to learn about birds very quickly. And on a wildlife safari, birding can add an exciting new dimension to the overall experience. Feel free to contact me if you would like recommendations for good birding guides in Kenya.
Buy the basic tools. A good pair of binoculars and bird guidebook are two fundamental tools that any good birder should have. I recommend Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania (Zimmerman et al) or Birds of East Africa (Stevenson and Fanshawe) as great guidebooks for anyone interested in Kenya’s birds.
Once you start getting good at identifying birds, I highly recommend that you join the Kenya Bird Map project. It is a citizen science project aimed at determining the current distribution and status of birds across Kenya. Taking part in the project has helped many people improve their birding skills. If you take photos of birds and cannot identify them, you can submit them to the Virtual Museum, where an expert will identify them for you (and the photos will also contribute to the Kenya Bird Map project).
I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of Ndege Wetu. Look out for Part 2 next Thursday!
Feel free to leave any questions/comments/suggestions in the comments section below.