Birds – Ethiopia

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Bradt guidebooks to African destinations, including the guide to Ethiopia.

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Bradt guidebook to Ethiopia.

Philip is the author of the Bradt guidebook to Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s top bird-watching countries, with more than 920 species recorded. Impressive as this tally is, what really makes Ethiopia stand out is its large number of endemics and near-endemics. Incredibly, most of these rarities can be seen on a standard birding trip. Specials aside, the sheer number and variety of colorful birds are a highlight for most visitors. And if you’re not a twitcher already, Ethiopia might just be the country that converts you.

Notable Birds in Ethiopia
Blue-winged goose
Common & endemic
Great white pelican
Common
Lesser flamingo
Common
Rüppell's vulture
Common
Somali ostrich
Occasional

Birding Rating

Endemic & Near-Endemic Birds

(E) endemic = only lives in Ethiopia
(NE) near-endemic = also lives in neighboring countries

Other Birding SpecialsTreats for Avid Birders

Facts & Figures

Birds in Ethiopia
Bird Species
920+
Migratory Birds
Nov to Mar

Best Time for Bird Watching

Bird watching in Ethiopia is best from November to March when migrants are present. This coincides with the Dry season, which is a great time to travel. April to September is good for birding too. At this time many resident birds come into breeding plumage and are more vocal and easier to find. July and August see heavy rainfall which might interfere with bird watching and other activities.

Best Parks for Birding Includes Birding Rating

It’s easy to see birds in Ethiopia. They are literally everywhere, and often in big numbers. The countryside and historical sites offer great opportunities for general birding, while some of the parks are better for marking off some of the sought-after localized species. Awash NP should be on every birder’s itinerary as it is great for general birding, as well as dry-country specials. Bale Mountains, with its high-altitude grassland and dense swathes of forest, is a good place to see a lot of endemics. The Rift Valley lakes are great for water birds: Lake Ziway never disappoints for sheer numbers, and Abijatta-Shalla is a magical place to watch the sun set over flocks of flamingos.

Recommended Birding Books

  • Where to Watch Birds in Ethiopia
    Claire Spottiswoode, Merid Gambremichael and Julian Francis
  • Birding Ethiopia, A guide to the country’s birding sites
    Ken Behrens, Keith Barnes and Christian Boix
  • Birds of the Horn of Africa
    Nigel Redman, Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe

Want to Visit Ethiopia?

Birding Rating

Facts & Figures

Birds in Ethiopia
Bird Species
920+
Migratory Birds
Nov to Mar