Lake Baringo which is in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya, is a stunning site for both tourists and wildlife lovers. This is because of the wide variety of the present bird species. The freshwater lake is a sanctuary for birdwatchers. One of these amazing and elusive feathered gems is the owl. In this blog, I will take you on a journey to the best places to see them. Additionally, I will share with you the importance of eco-tourism in protecting these wonderful birds.
The enigmatic world of owls.
Owls are a group of birds that have captivated people’s imaginations all over the world due to their mysterious nocturnal habits. This is a result of its diversified environment and abundance of prey. Moreover, Lake Baringo serves as the ideal habitat for these amazing creatures. Owls are easily recognized by their enormous, wide eyes, silent flight, and spooky hooting call that resonates over the lake.
Lake Baringo owl species:
African Scops Owl (Otus senegalensis)
Not only are African Scops Owls small but they can be identified by their unique ear tufts. They are well-camouflaged in their environment as a result of their mottled brown and grey plumage. They are well-known for their eerie hooting cries, which reverberate all through the night and are mostly used for communication. They play an important role in controlling the insect population in the ecosystem since they mostly feed on insects.
Verreaux’s Eagle Owl(Bubo lacteus).
The Verreaux’s eagle owl, Bubo lacteus in scientific jargon, is a huge African bird of prey. It’s one of the largest owls, with dark eyes and tufted “horns” on its head. These owls are skilled predators, preying on creatures such as rodents and birds. They are adept nocturnal predators and are recognized for their deep hooting cries.
Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Barn owls are fascinating creatures that capture the attention of bird enthusiasts and wildlife lovers alike. Their unique heart-shaped faces and eerie appearance make them stand out. They possess exceptional hunting skills and play a crucial role in controlling the population of rodents. Just one family of owls can eat thousands of rodents in a year, making them an environmentally friendly way of controlling pests. They are also associated with several myths and superstitions.
The Spotted Eagle Owl(Bubo africanus)
The Spotted Eagle Owl is medium-sized. It has fascinating bright yellow eyes which consequently blend in with their environment all thanks to their mottled brown and white plumage. These owls often sit on rocks or trees to keep an eye out for prey. They have brownish-gray feathers with numerous white spots on their bodies which generally help them to blend in their habitats. These owls are not considered globally threatened.
The Northern White-Faced Owl(Ptilopsis leucotis)
The Northern White-faced Owl, or Ptilopsis leucotis in scientific jargon, is a little owl species found in Africa. It is distinguished by a unique white face disc. In addition, these owls have strikingly big, orange eyes that contrast with their primarily gray-brown plumage. They are also quite small, about 25–30 cm (10–12 inches). Additionally, insects, small rodents, and other small animals make up the majority of their diet.
The distinctive call of Northern White-faced Owls, which consists of a series of whistles and hoots used for communication, is another thing that sets them apart. Additionally, they are cavity nesters and frequently breed in old tree holes or nesting boxes. Unfortunately, these owls are endangered in the wild due to habitat loss and other factors, thus conservation efforts are essential for their survival.
The Greyish Eagle Owl.
The Greyish Eagle Owl, or Bubo cinerascens in scientific jargon, is a well-known predatory bird. The name of this owl comes from its predominant hue, which is gray. It also has beautiful orange eyes that contrast with the gray of its feathers.
In addition, the Greyish Eagle Owl hunts largely at night because it is a nocturnal animal. It feeds on a range of creatures, such as insects, small mammals, and birds.
These owls are distinguished by their strong talons and pointed beaks, which they employ to seize and eat their prey.
Additionally, they live in woody areas and deep woods in various regions of Asia and Africa.
They live alone and are recognized for their unusual nighttime hooting cries.
The Pearl-spotted Owlet
The Pearl-spotted Owlet, or Glaucidium perlatum in scientific jargon, is a little owl that is indigenous to Africa. It is recognized for having a particular appearance, such as a white face with black markings. It has features such as pearl-like markings on its forehead and piercing yellow eyes. This owl is somewhat little, with a length of about 7 to 8 inches (18 to 20 cm). Insects, small mammals, and birds make up the majority of its diet.
Additionally, the owl is a solitary and territorial bird that spends a lot of time throughout the day perched in trees and is active at night. This owl is a competent hunter thanks to its exceptional vision and hearing, which are well adapted to its surroundings. It can also be discovered in a range of environments, including savannas, woodlands, and grasslands.
Please be aware that there may be additional owl species present in Lake Baringo and its environs in addition to the variety of owl species listed above. Owl sightings can be a highlight of any trip to Lake Baringo and therefore birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts visiting the area should keep their eyes and ears open for these interesting nocturnal species. However, It is important to note that owls are not the only birds found in Lake Baringo. A significant number of other birds are also located in the area. They include Slender-tailed Nightjar, Three -Banded courser, Golden-back weaver, Northern Masked Weaver, White-crested Turaco, Jackson’s Hornbill, Hemprich’s Hornbill, Spotted Thick-knee, Senegal Thick-knee, Goliath Heron, Acacia Tit, Mouse-colored Penduline-Tit, shinning Sunbird, Brown-tailed rock chat, Black-throated Barbet, Northern Red Bishop, Brown Babbler among many others.
Ideal spots for owl-watching
Daytime safari boat tours.
Visitors can take daytime safari boat cruises on Lake Baringo to discover the lake’s avian delights before sunset since it is impossible to do so during the night due to the harsh winds. These trips are an excellent way to see owls in their natural habitats.
Natural reserves and campsites:
For owl enthusiasts, campsites near Lake Baringo offer a great base of operations.
Owl sightings at twilight or morning may result from exploring the nearby nature preserves and woodlands during the day.
Due to habitat destruction and human meddling, owls in Lake Baringo still face numerous difficulties despite their mystifying attraction. Visitors must therefore exercise responsibility and limit their negative effects on the owls and their surroundings. Supporting local conservation organizations is another practical method to guarantee the long-term survival of these beautiful birds.
The owls that inhabit Lake Baringo are a symbol of the area’s abundant biodiversity and the attractiveness of ecotourism. It is an unforgettable experience to see these birds against the calm serenity of the lake. Visitors may help ensure that the owls of Lake Baringo are around for future generations by choosing responsible tourism practices and understanding the value of protecting their habitat. So, prepare your binoculars, set out on your next exploration, and allow the Lake Baringo owls to captivate you. Contact us for the best services and we promise to deliver.
Photo Credits: Wilson Tiren