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Bird Watching

With a full 860 species recorded, including 18 found nowhere else in the world, Ethiopia is regarded by experts as one of Africa’s key birding destinations.

Ethiopia’s prime attraction to visiting birders is the presence of 18 full national endemics. These include the spectacular Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco, peculiar Stresemann’s Bush Crow and melodious Abyssinian catbird.

The Nechisar nightjar is regarded to be the world’s rarest bird. The first (and thus far only) live specimen of this localized Ethiopian endemic was observed in 2009.

Ethiopia is the best place in the world to see several dozen regional endemics whose range only otherwise extends into Eritrea, Somalia, or South Sudan. This list includes such typical highland birds as the handsome white-winged cliff-chat, brightly colored black-winged lovebird, and marsh-loving Rouget’s rail.

Bale Mountains National Park was recently listed as one of the continent’s top five birding hotspots by the African Birding Club. Its checklist of 310 bird species includes six national endemics alongside another 11 species shared only with Eritrea, and the only known sub-Saharan breeding populations of a golden eagle, ruddy shelduck, and red-billed chough.

The highlands of northern Ethiopia are the best place in the world to see the mighty lammergeyer, which is regularly observed soaring above the Simien Mountains displaying its 2-meter wingspan.

Endemics aside, the Rift Valley lakes south of Addis Ababa are renowned for their prolific aquatic birdlife: flocks of tens of thousands of flamingo, bobbling flotillas of pouch-beaked pelicans, and a profusion of ducks, rallids, weavers, and waders.

The top months for birding tours are September to March when resident species are boosted by a host of Palearctic migrants. However, since all those eagerly sought national and regional endemics are resident throughout the year, there is no bad time for birders to visit Ethiopia