Birds

Below is a list of the bird species I’ve encountered and been able to positively identify during some of my travels throughout Tanzania. I’m not an expert birder by any stretch of the imagination, but I do enjoy observing, identifying, and learning about the birds I see.

I don’t have a fancy camera with a zoom lens (yet), so all identification is done in the field in real time using Bushnell 8×32 binoculars and my field guides. Common and Latin names provided here are based on Ber van Perlo’s A Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa, HarperCollins Publishers, 2009, as well as Birds of East Africa, by Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe, Christopher Helm Publishing, 2013. It is my understanding that some of the names have changed since publication of van Perlo’s guide in 2009, so I have included the updated names from Stevenson and Fanshawe when possible.

For additional information and resources regarding the wonderful birdlife found in Tanzania, please consult Neil Baker’s superb Tanzania Bird Atlas as well as Tanzaniabirds.net. If you’ve got the time and a good ear, you can check out common birdsongs from East Africa at the xeno-canto website, which is an immense database of recordings from all over the planet.

Dodoma, Kwa Mtoro, and Kondoa bush, northern Tanzania (March 2017)

  • Grey-backed fiscal,
  • Southern ground hornbill,
  • Spot-flanked barbet,
  • Eastern paradise whydah,
  • Pin-tailed whydah,
  • Straw-tailed whydah,
  • Superb starling,
  • Marico sunbird,
  • Red-billed hornbill,
  • Southern cordon-bleu,
  • Ashy starling,
  • Great spotted cuckoo,
  • Black-headed heron,
  • Common fiscal,

Mbuyuni Farm, Morogoro, Tanzania (March 2017)

  • Broad-tailed paradise whydah,
  • Southern cordon-bleu,
  • Blue-spotted wood dove,
  • Helmeted guineafowl,
  • Grey-headed kingfisher,
  • Common bulbul,
  • House sparrows,
  • Violet-backed starling,
  • Southern red bishop,
  • Blue-capped cordon-bleu,
  • White-winged widowbird,
  • Red-headed weaver,
  • Golden-backed weaver,
  • Spectacled weaver,
  • Fork-tailed drongo,
  • Black-crowned tchagra,
  • African grey flycatcher,
  • Rattling cisticola,
  • Pale-billed hornbill,
  • Black-and-white mannikin nigriceps,
  • Red-billed quelea,
  • African grey hornbill,
  • Speckled mousebird,
  • Ring-necked dove,
  • Tawny-flanked prinia,
  • Spotted morning thrush,
  • Little bee-eater,
  • Lanner falcon,
  • Red-fronted tinkerbird,
  • Spot-flanked barbet,
  • Northern wheatear,

Lushoto district, Usambara Mountains, northeastern Tanzania (February 2017)

  • African pied crow
  • Augur buzzard
  • Common bulbul
  • Trumpeter hornbill
  • African pied wagtail
  • Red-winged starling, Onychognathus morio

Mbeya and Utengule, southern Tanzania (June 2016)

  • Red-headed weaver, Anaplectes rubriceps leuconotus.
  • Bronze mannikin, Lonchura cucullata. 
  • Common bulbul (black-eyed bulbul), Pycnonotus barbatus. 
  • Green-winged pytilia, Pytilia melba. 
  • White-browed robin-chat, Cossypha heuglini. 
  • African pied wagtail, Motacilla aguimp.
  • Southern cordon-bleu, Uraeginthus angolensis. 
  • African black-headed oriole, Oriolus larvatus. 
  • Collared sunbird, Hedydipna collaris. 
  • Amethyst sunbird, Chalcomitra amethystina. 
  • Variable sunbird, Cinnyris venusta.
  • Black-collared barbet, Lybius torquatus. 
  • Fawn-breasted waxbill (imm), Estrilda paludicola. 
  • African mourning dove, Streptopelia decipiens. 
  • Common house sparrow, Passer domesticus. 
  • Miombo grey tit, Parus griseiventris.
  • Red-billed firefinch, Lagonosticta senegala. 
  • Tawny-flanked prinia, Prinia subflava.
  • Speckled mousebird, Colius striatus.  

Amani Forest Reserve, northern Tanzania (February 2016)

  • Trumpeter hornbill, Bycanistes bucinator.
  • Uluguru violet-backed sunbird, Anthreptes neglectus.
  • White-tailed crested-flycatcher, Trochocercus albonotatus
  • Augur buzzard, Buteo augur.
  • African palm swift, Cypsiurus parvus
  • Lanner falcon, Falco biarmicus
  • Waller’s starling, Onychognathus walleri
  • Yellow-bellied waxbill, Estrilda quartinia.
  • Pin-tailed whydah, Vidua macroura
  • Striped kingfisher, Halcyon chelicuti
  • African pied wagtail, Motacilla aguimp.
  • Yellow wagtail, Motacilla flava, race ‘superciliaris’.
  • Mountain buzzard, Buteo oreophilus
  • Red-rumped swallow, Hirundo daurica
  • Martial eagle, Polemaetus bellicosus.
  • Fork-tailed drongo (common drongo), Dicrurus adsimilis. 
  • White-naped raven, Corvus albicollis. 

Mufindi Highlands, southern Tanzania (July 2015)

  • Fulvous whistling-duck (fulvous duck), Dendrocygna bicolor.
  • White-backed duck, Thalasornis leuconotus.
  • Yellow-billed duck, Anas undulata.
  • Common teal, Annas crecca.
  • Red-knobbed coot, Fulica cristata.
  • Common moorhen, Gallinula chloropus.
  • Speckled mousebird, Colius striatus. 
  • African pied wagtail, Motacilla aguimp.
  • White-tailed crested flycatcher (African white-tailed flycatcher), Trochocercus albonotatus. 
  • Bronze sunbird, Nectarinia kilimensis. 
  • Malachite sunbird, Nectarinia famosa. 
  • Common waxbill, Estrilda estrild. 
  • Bertram’s weaver, Ploceus bertrandi. 

Ruaha National Park, southern Tanzania (October 2011, June 2015)

  • Common ostrich, Struthio camelus.
  • Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis.
  • Great white egret, Egretta alba.
  • Green-backed heron (striated heron), Butorides striatus.
  • Goliath heron, Ardea goliath.
  • Black-headed heron, Ardea melanocephala.
  • Hamerkop, Scorpus umbretta.
  • White stork, Ciconia ciconia.
  • Yellow-billed stork, Mycteria ibis.
  • African open-billed stork, Anastomus lamelligerus.
  • Saddle-billed stork, Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis.
  • Marabou, Leptoptilos crumeniferus.
  • Hadada (hadada ibis), Bostrychia hagedash.
  • Egyptian goose, Alopochen aegyptiacus.
  • Black-shouldered kite, Elanus caeruleus.
  • African fish-eagle, Haliaeetus vocifer.
  • Long-crested eagle, Lophaetus occipitalis.
  • Verreaux’s eagle (black eagle), Aquila verreauxi.
  • Hooded vulture, Necrosyrtes monachus.
  • Eastern chanting goshawk, Melierax canorus.
  • African harrier-hawk (gymnogene), Polyboroides typus.
  • Common buzzard (steppe buzzard), Buteo buteo.
  • Bateleur, Terathopius ecaudatus.
  • Helmeted guineafowl, Numida eleagris.
  • Red-necked francolin (red-necked spurfowl), Francolinus afer.
  • Grey crowned-crane (southern crowned crane), Balearica pavonina.
  • White-bellied bustard (white-bellied Korhaan), Eupodotis senegalensis.
  • Buff-crested bustard, Eupodotis gindiana (formerly E. ruficrista)
  • Crowned lapwing, Vanellus coronatus. 
  • Three-banded plover, Charadrius tricollaris.
  • Black-faced sandgrouse, Pterocles decoratus. 
  • African green-pigeon, Treron calva. 
  • Ring-necked dove (cape turtle dove), Strptopelia capicola. 
  • African mourning dove, Streptopelia decipiens. 
  • Brown parrot (Meyer’s parrot), Poicephalus meyeri. 
  • Yellow-collared lovebird, Agapornis personatus. 
  • Bare-faced go-away bird, Corythaixoides personata. 
  • White-browed coucal, Centropus superciliosus.
  • Spotted eagle-owl, Bubo africanus.
  • Square-tailed nightjar, Caprimulgus fossii. 
  • Pied kingfisher, Ceryle rudis. 
  • Little bee-eater, Merops pusillus.
  • Lilac-breasted roller, Coracias caudata. 
  • Red-billed hornbill, Tockus erythrorhynchus. 
  • Von der Decken’s hornbill, Tockus deckeni. 
  • Southern ground-hornbill (ground hornbill), Bucorvus leadbeateri.
  • Common bulbul (black-eyed bulbul), Pycnonotus barbatus. 
  • Winding cisticola, Cisticola galactotes. 
  • Beautiful sunbird, Cinnyris pulchella. 
  • Common fiscal (fiscal shrike), Lanius collaris.
  • Red-backed shrike, Lanius collurio. 
  • Square-tailed drongo, Dicruris ludwigii.
  • Yellow-billed oxpecker, Buphagus africanus. 
  • White-headed buffalo-weaver, Dinemellia dinemelli.
  • Red-billed buffalo-weaver, Bubalornis niger. 
  • Swahili sparrow, Passer sauhelicus. 
  • Ashy starling, Cosmopsarus unicolor. 
  • Red-winged starling, Onycognathus morio. 

Mikumi National Park, southern Tanzania (March 2009, May 2009-2016, October 2014)

  • Black-crowned night-heron, Nycticorax nycticorax.
  • Black-headed heron, Ardea melanocephala.
  • Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis.
  • Hamerkop, Scorpus umbretta.
  • Yellow-billed stork, Mycteria ibis.
  • Marabou, Leptoptilos crumeniferus.
  • Egyptian goose, Alopochen aegyptiacus.
  • Palm-nut vulture (vulturine fish eagle), Gypohierax angolensis.
  • African white-backed vulture, Gyps africanus.
  • Long-crested eagle, Lophaetus occipitalis.
  • Helmeted guineafowl, Numida eleagris.
  • Red-necked francolin (red-necked spurfowl), Francolinus afer.
  • Backsmith lapwing, Vanellus armatus. 
  • Wood sandpiper, Tringa glareola. 
  • Red-eyed dove, Streptopelia semitorquata. 
  • African mourning dove, Streptopelia decipiens. 
  • Madagascar bee-eater (olive bee-eater), Merops superciliosus.
  • Lilac-breasted roller, Coracias caudata. 
  • Southern ground-hornbill (ground hornbill), Bucorvus leadbeateri.
  • Pied crow, Corvus albus. 
  • Red-billed oxpecker, Buphagus erythrorhynchus. 
  • Yellow-billed oxpecker, Buphagus africanus. 
  • Red-billed firefinch, Lagonosticta senegala. 
  • Black-winged red bishop, Euplectes hordeaceus.
  • Red-cheeked cordon-bleu, Uraeginthus bengalus. 
  • Southern blue-eared starling, Lamprotornis elisabeth. 

Katavi National Park and Lake Tanganyika, western Tanzania (July 2014)

  • African darter, Anhinga rufa.
  • African fish-eagle, Haliaeetus vocifer.
  • Pied kingfisher, Ceryle rudis. 
  • Yellow-billed oxpecker, Buphagus africanus. 

Serengeti National Park and Ngorogoro Conservation Area, northern Tanzania (July 2009, March 2014)

  • Common ostrich, Struthio camelus. 
  • Marabou, Leptoptilos crumeniferus.
  • Black-shouldered kite, Elanus caeruleus.
  • Secretarybird, Sagittarius serpentarius.
  • African white-backed vulture, Gyps africanus.
  • Rueppell’s griffon vulture, Gyps rueppellii. 
  • Lappet-faced vulture, Aegypius tracheliotus.
  • Short-toed snake-eagle, Circaetus gallicus.
  • Tawny eagle, Aquila rapax.
  • Long-crested eagle, Lophaetus occipitalis.
  • African little sparrowhawk, Accipiter minullus.
  • Common buzzard (steppe buzzard), Buteo buteo.
  • Bateleur, Terathopius ecaudatus.
  • Helmeted guineafowl, Numida eleagris.
  • Red-necked francolin (red-necked spurfowl), Francolinus afer.
  • Grey crowned-crane (southern crowned crane), Balearica pavonina.
  • Kori bustard, Ardeotis kori.
  • Backsmith lapwing, Vanellus armatus. 
  • Ring-necked dove (cape turtle dove), Strptopelia capicola. 
  • Fischer’s lovebird, Agapornis fischeri.
  • Bare-faced go-away bird, Corythaixoides personata. 
  • Black cuckoo, Cuculus clamosus. 
  • Lilac-breasted roller, Coracias caudata. 
  • European roller, Coracias garrulus. 
  • Green wood-hoopoe (red-billed wood-hoopoe), Phoeniculus purpureus. 
  • Red-faced cisticola, Cisticola erythrops. 
  • Superb starling, Lamprotornis superbus. 
  • Splendid starling, Lamprotornis splendidus. 
  • Greater blue-eared starling, Lamprotornis chalybaeus. 

Selous Game Reserve, southeastern Tanzania (January 2010, February 2013)

  • African darter, Anhinga rufa.
  • Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis.
  • Great white egret, Egretta alba.
  • Little egret, Egretta garzetta.
  • Common Squacco heron, Ardeola ralloides.
  • Green-backed heron (striated heron), Butorides striatus.
  • Black heron (black egret), Egretta ardesiaca.
  • Purple heron, Ardea purpurea.
  • Grey heron, Ardea cinerea.
  • Black-headed heron, Ardea melanocephala.
  • Hamerkop, Scorpus umbretta.
  • Yellow-billed stork, Mycteria ibis.
  • African open-billed stork, Anastomus lamelligerus.
  • Marabou, Leptoptilos crumeniferus.
  • Sacred ibis, Threskiornis aethipica.
  • Hadada (hadada ibis), Bostrychia hagedash.
  • African spoonbill, Platalea leucorodia.
  • Egyptian goose, Alopochen aegyptiacus.
  • African fish-eagle, Haliaeetus vocifer.
  • Brown snake-eagle, Circaetus cinereus.
  • Tawny eagle, Aquila rapax.
  • Palm-nut vulture (vulturine fish eagle), Gypohierax angolensis.
  • Osprey, Pandion haliaetus.
  • White-headed vulture, Aegypius occipitalis.
  • Bateleur, Terathopius ecaudatus.
  • Helmeted guineafowl, Numida eleagris.
  • Black crake, Amaurornis flavirostris.
  • African jacana, Actophilornis africanus.
  • Water thick-knee (water dikkop), Burhinus vermiculatus. 
  • Backsmith lapwing, Vanellus armatus. 
  • Spur-winged lapwing, Vanellus spinosus. 
  • Long-toed lapwing, Vanellus crassirostris. 
  • White-crowned lapwing, Vanellus albiceps. 
  • Curlew sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea. 
  • African mourning dove, Streptopelia decipiens. 
  • Brown-headed parrot, Poicephalus cryptoxanthus.
  • Pied kingfisher, Ceryle rudis. 
  • Malachite kingfisher, Alcedo cristata. 
  • White-throated bee-eater, Merops albicollis. 
  • White-fronted bee-eater, Merops bullockoides. 
  • Northern carmine bee-eater, Merops nubicus. 
  • African grey hornbill, Tockus nasutus. 
  • Bearded woodpecker, Dendropicos namaquus. 
  • Red-faced cisticola, Cisticola erythrops. 
  • Scarlet-chested sunbird, Chalcomitra senegalensis. 
  • Golden-backed weaver (Jackson’s golden-backed weaver), Ploceus jacksoni.
  • African golden weaver, Ploceus subaureus. 
  • Black-headed weaver, Ploceus cucullatus.
  • White-browed sparrow-weaver, Plocepasser mahali.

Arusha and Tarangire National Parks, northern Tanzania (April 2010)

  • Black-crowned night-heron, Nycticorax nycticorax.
  • Yellow-billed stork, Mycteria ibis.
  • Grey crowned-crane (southern crowned crane), Balearica pavonina.
  • African mourning dove, Streptopelia decipiens. 
  • Variable sunbird (yellow-bellied sunbird), Cinnyris venusta. 
  • Northern white-crowned shrike, Eurocephalus rueppelli. 

Dar es Salaam and Pwani District, eastern Tanzania (resident)

  • Black-headed heron, Ardea melanocephala.
  • African fish-eagle, Haliaeetus vocifer.
  • Palm-nut vulture (vulturine fish eagle), Gypohierax angolensis.
  • African mourning doveStreptopelia decipiens. 
  • Mangrove kingfisher, Halcyon senegaloides.
  • Common bulbul (black-eyed bulbul), Pycnonotus barbatus. 
  • Black-throated wattle-eye (wattle-eye flycatcher), Platysteira peltata. 
  • House crow, Corvus spledens. I hate this bird – it’s invaded everywhere and driven out the native birds.
  • Red-billed firefinch, Lagonosticta senegala. 
  • Zanzibar red bishop, Euplectes nigroventris. 
  • Common house sparrow, Passer domesticus. 
  • White-winged widowbird, Euplectes albonotatus.
  • Scarlet-chested sunbird, Chalcomitra  senegalensis.
  • Dimorphic egret, dark morph, Egretta dimorpha.
  • Little bee-eater, Merops pusillus.
  • Lesser masked weaver, Ploceus intermedius. 
  • Emerald-spotted wood dove, Turtur chalcospilos. 
  • Red-cheeked cordon-bleu, Uraeginthus bengalus. 
  • Southern cordon-bleu, Uraeginthus angolensis. 
  • Cut-throat finch, Amadina fasciata.
  • Green-winged pytilia, Pytilia melba. 
  • Pin-tailed whydah, Vidua macroura.
  • Broad-tailed paradise-whydah, Vidua obtusa. 
  • White-browed robin-chat, Cossypha heuglini.
  • White-browed coucal, Centropus superciliosus.
  • Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis.
  • African paradise flycatcher, Terpsiphone viridis.
  • Sacred ibis, Threskiornis aethiopica.

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