Kenya Birds

Important Bird Areas

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Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Kenya

There are currently 60 IBA sites in Kenya covering a bewildering array of habitats. We have listed the areas below and provided brief details of where they are and what type of habitat they represent. There are links to pages which contain more details for some of the IBAs.

There is detailed information on Kenya's IBAs in Important Bird Areas in Kenya by Leon Bennun and Peter Njoroge. This includes a map for each location which shows the main roads in the region also the lodges and hotels within each IBA. If you are interested then we purchased our copy online from

Province: Central

One of the smaller Kenyan provinces which includes the well-known areas of Mt Kenya (on the slopes of which is Naro Moru, a popular birding destination), the Aberdares (location of both Treetops and the Ark) and the fertile central highlands plateau with its tea and coffee plantations.

IBADistrictsLocationHabitatGlobally-threatened Species
Aberdare MountainsMurang'a, Nyandarua and NyeriArea bounded by the Naivasha, Gilgil, Nyahuru road to the West and the Murang'a, Nyeri, Ngobit road to the East. The Gatakaini - Kipipin road traverses the Park from East to West.Montane forest, grassland, bamboo and moorlandSharpe's Longclaw, Aberdare Cisticola, Abbott's Starling, Jackson's Widowbird
Kianyaga ValleysKirinyagaSouth-eastern slopes of Mt Kenya, to the West of EmbuSteep river valleys with cultivationHinde's Babbler can be seen in numbers
Kikuyu Escarpment ForestKiambu30km north/north-west of NairobiMontane forestAbbott's Starling
Mukurweini ValleysNyeriLower SE slopes of the Aberdares. The Gethi, Thangathi, Githunguru, Kihate road goes through the area from SE to NW.Steep river valleys with cultivationHinde's Babbler

Province: Central/Rift Valley

IBADistrictsLocationHabitatGlobally-threatened Species
Kinangop GrasslandsNyandarua and NakuruWestern edge of the Aberdare ForestMontane grassland and farmlandPallid Harrier, Sharpe's Longclaw, Aberdare Cisticola, Jackson's Widowbird

Province: Central/Eastern

IBADistrictsLocationHabitatGlobally-threatened Species
Mt KenyaEmbu, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Laikipia, Meru, Tharaka-Nithi, Nyambene140Km north north-east of NairobiMontane forest, montane grassland, bamboo and moorlandLesser Kestrel, Sharpe's Longclaw, Abbott's Starling, Jackson's Widowbird

Province: Coast

IBADistrictsLocationHabitatGlobally-threatened Species
Arabuko-Sokoke ForestKilifi and MalindiUnder 10Km from the coast between Malindi and KilifiCoastal woodland and evergreen forestSouthern Banded Snake Eagle, Fischer's Turaco, Sokoke Scops Owl, Spotted Ground Thrush, Sokoke Pipit, East Coast Akalat, Amani Sunbird, Plain-backed Sunbird and Clarke's Weaver
Dakatcha WoodlandKilifiInland from the coast about 25Km along the Marafa, Baricho, Matolani RoadCoastal woodlandSouthern Banded Snake Eagle, Fischer's Turaco, Sokoke Pipit and Clarke's Weaver (it may even be the breeding area for this species although little is known about its breeding habits and the nest hasn't been identified)
Diani ForestKwaleCovers a 12Km strip along Diani BeachDeciduous coral rag forestSouthern Banded Snake Eagle, Fischer's Turaco, Spotted Ground Thrush and Plain-backed Sunbird
Dzombo Hill Forest Kwale Coastal plain SW of Mombasa just to the S of the Makambani-Mugome road Coastal mixed forestFischer's Turaco, Sokoke Pipit and Plain-backed Sunbird
Gede Ruins National MonumentMalindiOn the Mombasa-Malindi road about 94Km N of MombasaCoastal semi-deciduous forestSouthern Banded Snake Eagle, Fischer's Turaco, Spotted Ground Thrush, Sokoke Pipit and Plain-backed Sunbird
Kaya GandiniKwaleClose to the town of Gandini, 15Km east-north-east of MombasaDry deciduous Cyanometra-Terminalia forestFischer's Turaco, Spotted Ground Thrush, Sokoke Pipit and Plain-backed Sunbird
Kaya WaaKwaleAbout 12Km south of Mombasa near Waa village.Coastal Cyanometra-Drypetes forest on coral ragFischer's Turaco, Spotted Ground Thrush
Kisite IslandKwale8Km off the southern Kenyan coast in the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National ParkLow scrub and coral rockNo globally threatened species but the island hosts large numbers of Roseate Tern
Kiunga Marine National ReserveLamuA series of calcareous offshore islands in the Lamu Archipelago extending some 60km south from the northern coast of Kenya.Sandy beaches, mangroves and coral shelvesNo globally-threatened species but hosts large numbers of Crab-plovers and Roseate Terns
Mida Creek, Whale Island and Malindi/Watamu CoastMalindiNorthern Kenya coast from Malindi town southwards to just beyond Mida CreekSandy beaches, mangroves, intertidal rock, sand and mud, sea-grass beds and coral reefsNo globally-threatened species but important congregatory area for Crab-plover, Lesser and Greater Sandplover, Roseate and Saunder's Tern
Marenji ForestKwale1km from the Mrima trading centre near the Mombasa-Lungalunga RoadCoastal mixed forestFischer's Turaco, Sokoke Pipit, Plain-backed Sunbird
Mrima Hill ForestKwale60km SW of Mombasa just to the west of the Mombasa-Lungalunga RoadCoastal mixed forestFischer's Turaco, Spotted Ground Thrush and Plain-backed Sunbird
Sabaki River MouthMalindi5km north of Malindi between the Malindi-Mambrui road bridge and the seaEstuarine site with mudbanks, sandbanks, dunes and freshwater pools.Malindi Pipit also an important area for Madagascar Pratincole, Sooty Tern, Saunder's Tern and Lesser Crested Tern.
Shimba HillsKwaleJust south of Kwale and about 30km south-west of MombasaCoastal forest, grassland and scrubSouthern Banded Snake Eagle, Fischer's Turaco, Spotted Ground Thrush, Sokoke Pipit, East Coast Akalat and Plain-backed Sunbird
Taita Hills ForestsTaita-TavetaJust to the south and West of Voi townMontane forestSouthern Banded Snake Eagle, Taita Falcon and Abbott's Starling as well as the 3 globally-endangered endemic species; Taita Thrush, Taita White-eye and Taita Apalis
Tana River DeltaTana RiverRoughly triangular area covering Lake Bilisa at its apex and with its base a 50km stretch of coastline from Kipini to Mto Kilifi Lakes and streams (fresh and brackish), grasslands and wetlands (saline and freshwater), beaches, mudflats, dunes, woodland and forestSouthern Banded Snake Eagle, Malindi Pipit and Basra Reed Warbler. Also hosts internationally important levels of Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Lesser Crested Tern Saunders's Tern, Pink-backed Pelican, Yellow-billed Egret, Great Egret, Open-billed Stork, Yellow-billed Stork, African Spoonbill, Lesser Sandplover, Little Stint and Marsh Sandpiper
Tana River ForestsTana RiverLocated along the last 65km of the course of the Tana RiverEvergreen forest, deciduous woodland, bush and grasslandSouthern Banded Snake Eagle, Fischer's Turaco, Malindi Pipit, East Coast Akalat, White-winged Apalis, Tana River Cisticola, Basra Reed Warbler and Plain-backed Sunbird
Tsavo West National ParkTaita-Taveta906,500ha stretching from the Athi River to the Tanzanian borderAcacia-Commiphora bush, grassy plains and riverine scrubCorncrake, Basra Reed Warbler and Friedmann's Lark

Province: Coast/Eastern

IBADistrictsLocationHabitatGlobally-threatened Species
Tsavo East National ParkTana River, Taita-Taveta and Kitui1,175,000hs which extends from the South Kitui National Reserve in the north to the Voi-Maungu-Buchuma Road and railway in the south.Acacia-Commiphora bush, bushed grassland, bushland and riverine scrubLesser Kestrel, Basra Reed Warbler and Friedmann's Lark

Province: Eastern

IBADistrictsLocationHabitatGlobally-threatened Species
Dida Galgalu DesertMarsabit20 km north of Marsabit and extending for 60km on either side of the Marsabit-Moyale RoadBlack-lava desertWilliams's Lark
Machakos ValleysMachakosCovers an area which is bisected by the Kimutwa-Makaveti-Kiatineni RoadAcacia xanthophloea woodland, riverine bush Hinde's Babbler
Masinga ReservoirEmbuFound along the Upper Tana River north of EkarakaraFreshwater reservoir set in open Acacia-Commiphora bush Hinde's Babbler also hosts congregations of White-winged Tern and Great Cormorant
Meru National ParkMeru and Tharaka-Nithi85km east of Meru townAcacia-Commiphora bushland, wooded grasslandThe regionally-threatened Saddle-billed Stork is known to breed in the area
Mwea National ReserveEmbuLies at the confluence of the Tana and Thiba RiversBush and woodland with open gladesMadagascar Squacco Heron and Hinde's Babbler (NB this is the only protected area in which Hinde's Babbler occurs)
Shaba National ReserveIsioloSouthern bank of the northern Uaso Nyiro River, 9km east of Buffalo Springs National ReserveCommiphora bushland, riverine woodland and thickets, open lava desert, alkaline swamps and grasslandLesser Kestrel and Williams's Lark

Province: Eastern/Rift Valley

IBADistrictsLocationHabitatGlobally-threatened Species
Chyulu Hills ForestMakueni and Kajiado190km se of Nairobi, 30km sw of Kibwezi bordering Tsavo West National ParkMontane forest, brush and rough grasslandAbbott's Starling
Lake TurkanaMarsabit and TurkanaThe northernmost of the Rift Valley Lakes borders onto Ethiopia.Alkaline lake surrounded by sandy and rocky areasLesser Flamingo. It is also notable because over 10% of the East African/South East Asian wintering population of Little Stint are found here
Samburu and Buffalo Springs National ReservesIsiolo and SamburuReserves lie either side of the northern Uaso Nyiro River some 340km NE of NairobiAcacia tortilis woodland, rocky cliffs and escarpments, open bush and grasslandTaita Falcon and Lesser Kestrel

Province: Nairobi

IBADistrictsLocationHabitatGlobally-threatened Species
Dandora PondsNairobi20km east of Nairobi city centre just off the Nairobi-Kangundo RoadSewage works using environmentally friendly natural treatment process which discharges into the Nairobi River. NB Access to the ponds requires special permission and is discouragedNo globally-threatened species but the area is home to internationally important populations of Southern Pochard and Northern Shoveller
Nairobi National ParkNairobi7km from Nairobi city centreGrassland, woodland, thickets, dams and ponds and upland dry forestMadagascar Squacco Heron, Corncrake Lesser Kestrel, Red-throated Tit and Jackson's Widowbird. In January 2000 this IBA was the centre of attention because of the discovery of what is believed to be a new pipit

Province: Nyanza

IBADistrictsLocationHabitatGlobally-threatened Species
Dunga SwampKisumu10km S of Kisumu on the shores of Winam GulfPapyrus swampPapyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Yellow Warbler
Koguta SwampKisumuMouth of the Sondu-Miriu River a few km SW of Nyando river mouth on the shores of Lake VictoriaPapyrus swampPapyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Yellow Warbler
Kusa SwampKisumuAt the mouth of the River Nyando at the easternmost end of the Winam GulfPapyrus swampPapyrus Gonolek
Ruma National ParkSuba10km east of Lake Victoria sw of Homa BayGrassland, thickets and open woodlandBlue Swallow

Province: Nyanza/Western

IBADistrictsLocationHabitatGlobally-threatened Species
Yala SwampSiaya and BusiaYala River delta between Port Victoria and Usenge and stretching eastwards to Lake KanyaboliPapyrus swampPapyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Yellow Warbler

Province: Rift Valley

IBADistrictsLocationHabitatGlobally-threatened Species
Amboseli National ParkKajiadoNW of Mt Kilimanjaro on the Tanzanian borderPapyrus swamps, acacia woodland and open grassland and scrubMadagascar Squacco Heron, Lesser Flamingo, Lesser Kestrel and also possibly the Shoebill
Cherangani HillsElgeyo Marakwet and West PokotWestern edge of the Rift Valley along the Elegeyo EscarpmentMontane forest, grassland, scrub, bamboo and moorlandNo globally-threatened species but this area is home to one of the last breeding populations of Lammergeier in Kenya
Lake BaringoBaringo110km N of Nakuru the area is bounded by the Marigat-Loruk road to the west (taking in the basalt cliffs to the West of Kampi ya Samaki)Shallow freshwater lake with swampy margins surrounded by basalt cliffs, bush and acacia woodlandMadagascar Squacco Heron, Lesser Flamingo, Pallid Harrier, Lesser Kestrel
Lake Bogoria National ReserveBaringo and KoibatekSouth of Lake Baringo along the Siracha EscarpmentAlkaline lake, hot springs, woodland and brushLesser Flamingo (this is an important feeding area and hosts large congregations). Also hosts large numbers of Greater Flamingo and Black-necked Grebe
Lake ElementeitaNakuru20 km SE of Nakuru townAlkaline lake, acacia woodland, Tarchonanthus bushland and grasslandGreater Spotted Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Lesser Flamingo, Grey-crested Helmet-shrike, Jackson's Widowbird. Also hosts large congregations of Black-necked Grebe, Great White Pelican, African Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Pied Avocet
Lake MagadiKajiado85km SW of Nairobi close to Magadi townHeavily alkaline lake with a fringe of brushLesser Flamingo
Lake NaivashaNakuru80km NW of Nairobi along the Nairobi-Nakuru roadFreshwater lake with a papyrus swamp fringe and surrounding Acacia xanthophloea woodland.Grey-crested Helmet-shrike, Basra Reed Warbler, Lesser Flamingo. Also has large congregations of Red-knobbed Coot, African Spoonbill and Little Grebe
Lake Nakuru National ParkNakuruPark border Nakuru town at its northern edge.Alkaline lake with surrounding Acacia xanthophloea woodland and grasslandMadagascar Squacco Heron, Lesser Flamingo, Pallid Harrier, Greater Spotted Eagle, Grey-crested Helmet-shrike. Also hosts large congregations of Greater Flamingo, Black-necked Grebe, Little Grebe, Great White Pelican, Yellow-billed Stork, African Spoonbill, Black-winged Stilt, Grey-headed Gull and Gull-billed Tern
Maasai MaraNarok and Trans-MaraSW Kenya bordering Tanzania and contiguous with the SerengetiVast rolling grasslands, riverine forest, swamp, Acacia woodland and scrub as well as Croton and Tarchonanthus scrub and rocky cliffs and scarpsMadagascar Squacco Heron, Lesser Kestrel, Pallid Harrier, Corncrake, Grey-crested Helmet-shrike, Red-throated Tit, Jackson's Widowbird
Mau Forest ComplexNakuru, Kericho, Narok and Bomet270,300 ha of the south-western highlands to the W of Nakuru town and including Mau Narok. Molo, Kedowa and SabatiaMontane forest, bamboo groves and grassland.No globally-threatened species but the area is home to the Grey-winged Robin and the Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike
Mau Narok/Molo GrasslandsNakuru and NarokMau escarpment includes the towns of Mau Narok and East MauMontane grassland and farmsLesser Kestrel, Pallid Harrier, Great Snipe, Sharpe's Longclaw, Aberdare Cisticola, Jackson's Widowbird
North Nandi ForestNandiEast of the Kakamega forest on the Nandi escarpmentTropical and montane forestChapin's Flycatcher
Ol Donyo SabacheSamburu30km north of Archer's Post on the main Isiolo-Marsabit roadBasalt cliffs and Juniperus-Podocarpus forestTaita Falcon
South Nandi ForestNandiLies west of Kapsabet town and south of the main Kapsabet-Kaimosi roadTropical forest and montane forest.Turner's Eremomela
South NgurumanNarokThe western wall of the Rift Valley in the southernmost part of Kenya, 150 km SW of NairobiAcacia tortilis woodland, Acacia-Commiphora brush, Tarchonanthus thicket, grassland and sub-montane forestRed-throated Tit, Grey-crested Helmet-shrike, Jackson's Widowbird

Province: Western

IBADistrictsLocationHabitatGlobally-threatened Species
Busia GrasslandsBusiaClose to the Ugandan border in a largely agricultural area including the town of MungatsiAgricultural area which includes seasonally flooded grassland and riverine scrubGreat Snipe, Blue Swallow
Kakamega ForestKakamega40km N of Kisumu and east of the Nandi escarpment.Tropical rainforest containing grassy clearings and bushy gladesChapin's Flycatcher, Turner's Eremomela
Mt ElgonMt Elgon/Trans-Nzoia140km NE of Lake Victoria on the Kenya-Uganda borderMontane forest, moorland, bamboo and wooded grasslandSharpe's Longclaw
Sio Port SwampBusiaExtreme N of Lake Victoria along the Ugandan borderPapyrus swampPapyrus Gonolek
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