The Serengeti National Park, although associated with endless plains, is in fact an ecologically varied area. The western portion of the Serengeti comprises savannah, scattered with impervious stands of whistling thorns and other vachellia (also known as acacias or thorn tress). A ribbon of riverine forest can be found along the Grumeti River. The northern portion of the Serengeti, next to Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve, is home to rolling hills, particularly around Lobo, and supports a variety of woodlands. So, while the Serengeti plains in the park’s southeast support relatively few bird species you associate with grasslands, the national park ranks amongst the best in terms of bird species variety. Birds are one of the most diverse life forms on earth and fill a wide variety of ecological roles: they act as herbivores, insectivores, predators and scavengers.
Serengeti special birds
Birds in the Serengeti range from the tiny Beautiful Sunbird that often can be seen hovering around bright Aloe flowers, to the massive ostrich with its pinkish legs and dramatic mating dance, and everything in between. The Serengeti Biodiversity Program has recorded some 540 (!) species of birds. In particular, keep your eyes open for the ‘Serengeti specials’: bird species endemic to the region and therefore cannot be found elsewhere on the planet. These special birds include the grey throated spurfowl, Schalow's wheatear, red throated tit, rufous-tailed weaver, grey-crested helmet shrike, and Schalow's turaco. Some other birds you may recognize and try to find are the secretary bird, African fish eagle, Fischer's lovebird or countless vulture species.
Chasing the Serengeti specials will be a priority for every serious birder. However, the mixed vegetation types of woodland, riverine forests and grasslands offers prime quality birdwatching that allows also non-birders to take delight of the many birds in Serengeti National Park. Did we mention that we recommend bringing a pair of binoculars already? We often see ostrich, and other giants such as the southern ground hornbill, kori bustard, and secretary bird. One of the most extraordinary birds of the Serengeti is the lilac-breasted roller, often seen in trees alongside the road. Highlights are inevitably subjective, but definitely should include a magnificent black eagle soaring above the cliffs at Lobo, or a breeding colony of Jackson's golden-backed weaver.