HOW TO IDENTIFY BIRDS BY HABITAT
Bustards and Ostriches (Page 8/10)

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Before asking ourselves how to identify birds by habitat we may want to define what the habitat exactly is. It is the environment in which bird species (or any living organism) normally live. We could stretch this further and say that for the long term survival of the bird species the habitat must (should) be conducive for the species to multiply.


Different birds species need different habitats: from highland forests, alpine forests, grasslands, fresh waters, alkaline waters, deserts, shrubs, marshes etc. It is also possible for a particular bird species to have multiple habitats mainly dictated by food supply. E.g. a Hamerkop can be seen in a river as well as in a swamp. Similarly a Black-headed Heron can be seen in a swamp as well as in open grasslands looking for lizards, frogs and snakes.



Hamerkop



Black-headed Heron



Donnaldson Smith's Sparrow-weaver



Ant-eater Chat



Secretary Bird



Rosy-patched Bush-shrike



Golden Pipit


Using habitats for birds identification is especially helpful for beginners when they are preparing for a birding excursion in a new area. Prior reading of filed guide can give you an idea of what is likely to be seen in the site you are visiting, just by its habitat. E.g. if visiting the Northern deserts on a Kenya bird watching holiday expect to see species such as Crested Bustard, Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver, Rosy-patched Bush Shrike.


Bustards



Crested Bustard



Hartlaub's Bustard



The Kori Bustard, world's heaviest flying bird


Habitats such as open grasslands are home to Plain-backed Pipit, Red-capped Lark, Crowned Plover, Ant-eater Chat, Secretary Bird... When not sure of a bird species seen, then the habitat can be the last jury on determining the exact species, especially on species whose field marks are very similar.


Finally the rule of habitat in birds identification is not cast in stone remember we are dealing with nature which at any time can throw a surprise.


So even when guide books say: a particular bird species is only found in habitat A, it is possible to find it in a completely differently habitat. For example flamingos which are often found in the alkaline lakes of Nakuru and Bogoria are occasionally found in Lake Naivasha, which is a fresh water lake in the Rift Valley.


True, they may be no more than a group of 100 while in the alkaline lakes they are in thousands but the example demonstrates the flexibility that one need in identifying birds by habitats.


Ostriches



Masai Ostrich with chicks,
Amboseli NP



Somail Ostrich,
Samburu Game Reserve



Masai Ostrich


All birds pictures in this website are by Peter Huysman, an avid bird watcher and also the owner & operator of Ontdek Kenya - the leading outfitter of bird watching holidays in Kenya since '96.


For a consultation on a birding holiday, please contact Ontdek Kenya Safaris.



Click the pages below for more pictures of Kenyan birds in their habitat:

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