Endemics-These are species of birds that are exclusively found in a specific region or habitat within a certain continent, or country and cannot be seen elsewhere!

Kenyan Endemics:
Despite Kenya’s huge array of bird species, very few of these birds are endemic. Depending on the taxonomy used, Kenya has only six to thirteen species which are endemic. Roughly another fifteen species occurring in Kenya are endemic to the East African (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi) region. Many of Kenya’s endemics are difficult to find and have very limited ranges. The following is a brief review of each of these species to better help the birder visiting Kenya pick up some of the key endemics.

Williams's Lark, Mirafra williamsi
This species inhabits a very limited range and is only known from two regions: the black lava desert near Marsabit east of Lake Turkana and a small region near Isiolo in central Kenya. Its primary habitat is rocky lava deserts with short grasses from 600-1350m. Despite having been discovered in 1955 very little is known of this species. For the birder visiting Kenya the far north near Lake Turkana is almost never visited. The best chance of seeing this species is at Shaba National Game Reserve but even here it is quite difficult to find.

Sharpe's Longclaw, Macronyx sharpie
Inhabiting grazed open grassland and short moist tussock grass from 1850-3400m, this species may actually extend into far eastern Uganda. This species lacks the full black breast band of the Yellow-throated Longclaw and is typically found at higher elevations. The Kinangop Grasslands to the west of the Aberdares is the normal location that birders search for this species. This area is usually passed through on any trip traveling between Lake Naivasha and either Mt. Kenya or the Aberdares. With a bit of effort this species can usually be found.

Nairobi Pipit, Anthus chyuluensis
Only a very recent discovery, this species is a probable split from the Long-billed Pipit. Occurring in Nairobi National Park, the Nairobi Pipit differs slightly in plumage and vocalization. For positive ID it may be necessary to have a guide who is intimately familiar with this species as very little has been published on it.

Taita Thrush, Turdus helleri
This species is confined to remnant forest patches at higher elevations in the Taita Hills. The total range of the Taita Thrush is only roughly 3.5km². It is very similar in appearance to, and considered by some authors to be a race of, the Olive Thrush. This species can be very shy and of the three Taita Hills endemics is often the most difficult to find. For birders visiting Tsavo it may be possible to make a half or full day trip to Taita Hills in search of this species.

Aberdare Cisticola, Cisticola aberdare
Found from 2300-3700m this cisticola is found in high grasslands on either side of the Great Rift Valley. It is typically found at higher elevations than the Stout or Croaking Cisticolas and can best be identified by the rufous cap with streaking extending over the nape (providing less contrast with the back). The Aberdares are typically where birders go to search for this species, though it occurs around Molo and Mau Narok as well.

Tana River Cisticola, Cisticola restrictus
This species is virtually unknown and its existence has been questioned. Only a handful of specimens have ever been collected and none of these have been within the last 30 years. Specimens were all collected from the lower Tana River basin in semi-arid bush extending out from the coast. The bird looks very similar to the Ashy Cisticola but has a light rufous wash to the flanks and the sides of the breast. The song is unknown.

Taita Apalis, Apalis fuscigularis
The Taita Apalis is restricted to the Taita Hills and is considered by some to be a race of the Bar-throated Apalis. The Taita Apalis has an all dark throat while the Bar-throated Apalis has a white throat with a black breast band. Of the three Taita Hills endemics the Taita Apalis is the second easiest to see. With a bit of time it is usually found. The Taita Hills can be reached on either a full or half day trip from Tsavo.

Sokoke Batis, Batis mixta ultima
This species is confined to the region extending from Sokoke to the Shimba Hills and is often considered to be a race of the Forest Batis which extends down through Tanzania. The Sokoke Batis has an indistinct white supercilium while the Forest Batis has none. There is some evidence that intergrading occurs between the Sokoke and Forest Batis. This bird is fairly common in Sokoke and most birders should have the chance to see (though note that it is not the only batis in the region).

Hinde's Babbler, Turdoides hindei
Hinde’s Babbler has a very restricted range and is confined to steep valleys within cultivation from 1300-1500m. It inhabits foothills near Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares where it is known from only a few locations. Intensive farming has created habitat loss and the total population is estimated at approximately 500 individuals. This bird can be very difficult to find and a full day search may still turn up nothing.

Kulal White-eye, Zosterops poliogaster kulalensis
Confined to Mt. Kulal in north Kenya this species is often considered to be part of the Montane White-eye complex. It is found in forest patches from 1300-2300m. Due to loss of habitat this species numbers have been dropping in recent years. Mt. Kulal is not a region regularly visited by birders and a special trip would need to be arranged to search for this species.

Taita White-eye, Zosterops poliogaster silvanus
The Taita White-eye is restricted to montane forest patches in the Taita Hills from 800-1700m. It is the only white-eye found within its limited range and is the most common of the three Taita Hills endemics. Birders wishing to see this species can take a full or half day trip for Tsavo.

Clarke’s Weaver, Ploceus golandi
Clarke’s Weaver is known from only a few sites along the coast: most notably the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. This species is fairly diagnostic and can be told from the Dark-backed Weaver (which it overlaps with) by the black which extends onto the breast, light yellow belly, and yellow edges to the wings. Fast-moving and noisy flocks can often be found moving through the canopy of Brachystegia woodland. More studies need to be done of this species as it seems to disappear from January to March and there are no breeding records.

Reference; www.birdingkenya.com