R. N. Ondieki2*and G. M. Ogendi1,2
1Department of Environmental Science, Egerton University, Box 536 Egerton
2Dryland Research Training & Ecotourism Centre, Chemeron, Box 536 Egerton
*Corresponding Author: email@example.com
Semi-arid woodlands are important and critical habitats that provide breeding and feeding grounds for a variety of bird species, some of which are endangered or threatened with extinction. Habitat type and size influences abundance and diversity of birds globally and particularly in developing countries that are characterized by rapid human population growth and haphazard urban, agricultural and industrial development. The objective of this study was to asses avian and habitat diversity at Chemeron, a semi-arid land in Baringo County, Kenya. Four 2-km long transects radiating from a central point within the study area were selected for a ground survey of birds that was conducted on foot. The surveys were conducted between 6 and 10 a.m and between 4 and 6p.m for two weeks in October 2020. Bird species were observed and identified to the species level using high resolution binoculars, field guide books and available taxonomic keys. There were two main habitat types: Acacia-Balanites-Boscia woodlands dominated by Acacia senegal, Acacia mellifera, Acacia nilotica and Balanites aegyptica. The second kind of habitat consisted of the invasive Acalypha fruticosa and Indigofera arrecta with Acacia reficiens-Acacia brevispica overstorey. A total of 24 bird species were sighted and identified to the species level including the endangered Clarke’s weaver (Ploceus golandi) and the vulnerable Yellow necked spurfowl (Francolinus leucoscepus). 79% of the birds were sighted as singles or in pairs except for the gregarious white browed sparrow weaver (Plocepasser mahali) and Clark’s weaver (Ploceus bicolor). Approximately 80% of the birds are insectivorous; 13% frugivore and 7% nectarivores. The high diversity of bird species in the study area can be attributed to the varied diversity of habitats that provide feeding, nesting, refuge and breeding grounds for the birds. From the foregoing findings, we can conclude that ASALs offer ample habitat for birds including some of which face global extinction. We recommend that sustainable utilization of rangeland resources so as to protect such critical avian habitats.
Keywords: Acacia woodlands, Avian diversity, extinction, habitat diversity, rangelands