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Birding on our East Africa Diving Holidays

Not Diving, but your partner or friends are?

Come along anyway, and relax by the beach or go birding instead!

With over 1000 bird species, East Africahas amongst the largest number of species of birds.  Over 800 species are resident and about 200 are migratory species, with a large number of endemic species and over 56 species under threat.  Tanzania has over 80 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) covering over 167,000km2, and identified under criteria set by Birdlife International.

What birds will I see on my Safari?



Over 1000 bird species

Over 80 Important Bird Areas



East Africa is a land of vast, dramatic landscapes and spectacular wildlife.  The landscapes range topographically from the low-lying coastal regions up to 5825m at the peak of the highest mountain in Africa, Mt Kilimanjaro.  Habitats within these landscapes range from lush forests, woodlands, bush & grasses, to semi-arid country & deserts to freshwater lakes & rivers, soda lakes, coastal beaches & reefs.

East Africa is thus home not only to such icons as Mt Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti & Masai Mara with the Great Wildebeest Migration, the Great Rift Valley and Ngorongoro Crater, but also to a host of stunning avifauna that takes advantage of the diverse landscapes.  Tanzania's 80 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) include regions in which there is a high level of endemism, or that contain globally threatened species.

Further information about these IBAs and just a few of the species you are likely to encounter on our East African Safaris are listed below.

Zanzibar & Pemba


African Pygmy Kingfisher
African Pygmy Kingfisher
(Ispidina picta)


African Jacana
African Jacana
(Actophilornis africanus)


Zanzibar Island is famous throughout the world for its spices and for its outstanding coral reefs.  With over 200 bird species on the island, there is a diverse range of avifauna here, including both endemic species and subspecies.  There are two IBAs here and both are important for water birds such as terns and waders. 

The indigenous Jozani Forest Reserve is the last remaining forest and is home to more than 40 bird species including several endemic species.  During our 4 days in Zanzibar, you can expect to see some of the species of birds listed on the right.

Spice & Coral Island

Indigenous Forests

Endemic Species & Subspecies

Waterbird haven


African Jacana Actophilornis africanus
African Pygmy Kingfisher Ispidina picta
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Crab Plover Dromas aedeola
Dark-backed Weaver Ploceus bicolor
Dimorphic Egret Egretta dimorpha
East Coast Akalat Sheppardia gunningi
Mangrove Kingfisher Halcyon senegaloides
Sooty Gull Larus hemprichii
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

Unusual or  endemic* race:

Fischer's Turaco* Tauraco fischeri
Grey Sunbird* Cyanomitra veroxii
Little Greenbul* Andropadus virens


Little Egret
Little Egret
(Egretta garzetta)


Pemba lies to the north of Zanzibar Island and about 50km off the mainland.  Despite its proximity to Zanzibar, it is rarely visited by tourists and remains relatively remote.  The largest remaining patch of forest, Ngezi forest, has a lush jungle-like canopy with thick cover on the forest floor and is home to four endemic species. 

The nearby Misali island is covered in forest and our secluded beach retreat is surrounded by mangrove forests.  During our 6 days on Pemba island, we will explore these habitats and can expect to see some of the bird species listed on the right.

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African Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer
Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus
Brown-headed Parrot Poicephalus crptoxanthus
Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Unusual or  endemic* to Pemba :

Pemba Green Pigeon* Treron pembaensis
Pemba Scops Owl* Otus pembaensis
Pemba Sunbird* Cinnyris pembae
Pemba White-eye* Zosterops vaughani


Striated Heron
Striated Heron
(Butorides striatus)

White-faced Whistling Ducks
White-faced Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna viduata)

Coastal Forests

The coastal region of East africa is ecologically rich, highly diverse and home to over 450 species of birds.  The coast includes thick forests, thickets, mangroves, river inlets, saltpans, tidal mudflats and offshore islands. The region is thus of major importance for many water birds, including migratory waders.  During our 3 days at Ras Kutani, some of the birds you can expect to see are listed on the right.

Over 450 species of birds

Ecologically Rich & Highly Diverse

Forests & Mangroves

River Inlets, Saltpans, Tidal Mudflats

Offshore Islands

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Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis
Striated Heron Butorides striatus
Water Thick-Knee Burhinus vermiculatus
Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea
White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata


Curlew Sandpiper Cakidris ferruginea
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Little Stint Calidris minuta
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinerus

Unusual or endemic* to region:

African Water Rail Rallus caerulescens


We hope that this has whet your appetite to come birding in Zanzibar.

Alternatively join us on a unique Luxury Tanzania or Kenya Safari with our parent company Conservation Safaris.  Discover an even greater number of bird species, some unique to the sites we visit.   All our safaris take time to observe the birds & support conservation programs to conserve their habitat. 

We hope to see you soon on our East Africa Diving Holidays... until then, happy birding!



For further information about birding in general or in East Africa, take a look at:
Baker E. & Baker N. (2002). Important Bird Areas of Tanzania. Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania.
Stevenson T. & Fanshawe J. (2002). Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa. A & C Black Publishers.
Birdlife International:   African Bird Club:

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