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Bird Watching In Ethiopia

The enthusiasm display by bird –watching is truly amazing. It is not a coincidence that Ethiopia is rich in birds, because many birds prefer and adapt to particular geographical features and subsequent unique flora and fauna. Thus, Ethiopia is a gifted land of diverse climate and landscape favoring habitat with unique bird species not found anywhere else. As Ethiopia is one of the richest ecosystems on the planet wetlands, Rift Valley lakes, alpine moorlands,

the highland massifs, the lowlands, and the arid semi- deserts. Each of these habits has its own characteristic bird communities.There are over 900 species of birds, over 30 of these are endemic to Ethiopia, 25 of these endemic or endangered species can be frequently spotted. This makes Ethiopia, the second largest home of endemism, next to South Africa. It is thus quite justified to describe Ethiopia as “the Ornithological Paradise”.Ethiopia has numerous, diverse and colorful birds comparable and even much better than many African countries. One major reason for Ethiopia’s high profile among bird watchers is the large number of species that are endemic or near endemic- in Africa comparable only to South Africa and Tanzania. One major reason for a high degree of endemism in Ethiopia is the country’s diverse topography. The central highlands, the surrounding arid lowlands, the Rift valley that runs north south dotted with fresh water lakes support different range of habitat and hence diverse species of birds.

Where to see birds

Here below is highlight of Ethiopia’s main birding sites. However it should be clear that these lists are not the only possibilities to spot birds. It is intended to serve as a rough plan for a kind of birding program. Bird watchers need to allow at least a minimum of 10 days to cover all the areas listed below Addis Ababa: Even in and around the capital, Addis Ababa, visitors can see a minimum of six to eight endemic or semi-endemic species.

North of Addis Ababa: The seasonally wet highland grasslands of the sululta plains, 31km north of Addis Ababa, support a good number of waders including the black-winged lapwing, around 30km further north, and the Blue Nile gorges around DebreLibanos are home to at least seven endemics or semi-endemics, among them the banded barbet, Rueppell’s chat and white-billed starling.

The town of Bahir Dar on the southern shore of Lake Tana supports many species of forest and water birds. On the Road to the Blue Nile Fall and at the fall visitors can expect to see many birds including the endemic black headed forest oriole, white collared pigeon, Yellow fronted parrot Between Bahir Dar and Axum are the spectacular Simien Mountains. Although the area’s birdlife is not as rich as that found in the Bale Mountain, the scenic crags and escarpments provide an unparalleled opportunity to see the soaring lammergeyer. Sightings of this immense bird and its incidental companion, the semi-endemic thick-billed raven, are almost guaranteed.

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