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Conservation of avian biodiversity in landscapes under immense anthropogenic pressures is dependent on sound population data that could guide informed conservation strategies. Using point count surveys, field observations and interviews, we assessed bird communities in Lake Rukwa, an anthropogenically threatened ecosystem in western Tanzania, to establish some vital parameters on this taxon. A total of 5840 bird individuals belonging to 85 species, 17 orders and 39 families were recorded. Of these, five were globally threatened and 19 were migrant species. Avian Shannon’s (H’) and Simpson’s (D) diversity indices were 2.936 and 0.8655, respectively. Bird species richness was different across foraging and habitat guilds (both p = 0.0001). Insectivores were the most species-rich foraging guild, while nectarivores were the least; similarly, non-forest birds were the most species-rich habitat guild, while forest generalists were the least. Grazing, bushfires, tree cutting, unsustainable fishing and bird harvesting are the major anthropogenic threats to bird biodiversity in the area. Regular provision of conservation-related education programs to local residents is a highly recommended conservation measure. This study serves as a baseline for avifaunal monitoring in Lake Rukwa and provides useful insights into the avifauna conservation planning in anthropogenically disturbed landscapes.