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Birding in Uganda

Birding in Uganda


Uganda is a birders’ paradise known to harbor over half of Africa’s bird species and 11% of the world’s bird types. The Pearl of Africa boasts with a massive list of more than 1075 recorded bird species making it one of the world’s best birds spotting area with several bird species including Albertine Rift endemic, migratory bird types, water birds, forest bird species, savannah bird species and many more. Uganda harbors such a huge diversity of birds due to her incredible diversity of habitats that no other area in Africa can match ranging from forests, savannah grasslands, wetlands, Lakes, Mountains and many more. Uganda has up to 34 Important Bird Areas of which many have been developed for bird watching and birding excursions. Uganda’s top bird species to look out for on a birding safari in Uganda include the shoebill stork, great blue turaco, standard-winged nightjar, short-tailed warbler, African green-broadbill, green-breasted pitta, fox’s weaver, blue-headed sunbird, Rwenzori nightjar, Rwenzori turaco, red-throated Alethe, handsome francolin, collard Apalis, mountain-masked Apalis, dwarf honeyguide, Rwenzori batis, regal sunbird, purple-breasted sunbird, stripe-breasted tit, Kivu ground Thrush, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, strange weaver, Chapin’s flycatcher, dusky crimson wing, papyrus Gonolek to mention but a few.

Uganda’s best bird watching places/spots

Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest and oldest park located in the northwestern region of the country boasting with over 451 bird species making it one of the country’s best birding spots. Bird species found in Murchison Falls National Park include Albertine Rift endemic birds, water birds, forest birds, savannah birds and many more of which some are rare, common and occasional. Bird species to lookout in Murchison Falls National Park include grey crowned cranes, Goliath herons, black-headed lapwings, shoebill stork, giant kingfishers, papyrus Gonolek, African darter, osprey, long-toed plover, silver bird, Abyssinian ground hornbill, martial eagle, black-billed barbet, yellow-fronted Tinker bird, weaver birds, veracious dove to mention but a few. Bird species in Murchison Falls National Park can well be spotted while on a game drive through the Park’s savannah grasslands, nature walks through forests like Budongo forest and on a boat cruise along the Nile River.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is a birdwatcher’s paradise situated in the southwestern region of the country harboring over 600 bird species that range from woodland and forest dwellers to 54 raptor species, water birds, savannah birds and migratory bird species. The Park’s vegetation cover ranges from savannah grasslands to the humid rainforests, acacia and euphorbia bushes, salty and fresh water lakes and wetlands that make Queen Elizabeth National Park a top habitat for various bird species in Uganda. Bird species found in Queen Elizabeth National Park include the palm-nut vulture, papyrus Gonolek, western-banded snake eagle, saddle-billed stork, African fin foot, African skimmer, long-crested eagle, pink-backed pelican, shoebill stork, collared pratincole, Pel’s fishing owl, swamp flycatcher, red-chested sunbird, rufous-bellied heron, spotted redshank, white-backed night heron, white-winged tern, yellow-bellied wattle-eye, yellow-throated cuckoo, grey-winged robin-chat, crab-plover, broad-billed roller, black-bee eater, African hobby, great-blue turaco, Heuglin’s gull, common sand martin to mention but a few. Queen Elizabeth National Park is made up of different sections where birding can be carried out and these include;

Kasenyi area or sector

This sector is a famous spot for tourists with endless savannah plains best for game viewing and birdwatching most especially for savannah bird types. Bird species that are easily seen in Kasenyi sector include the grey-backed fiscal, ripeols griffon vulture, sitting cisticola, brown-backed scrub robin, white-backed vulture, hooded vulture, croaking cisticola, long-crested eagle, palm-nut vulture, white-tailed lark, black-bellied bustard, flapet lark to mention but a few.

Ishasha sector

The Ishasha sector is not only famous for tree climbing lions but also a habitat for a variety of bird species for example the martial eagle, African crowned eagle, African green pigeon, palm-nut vultures, grey kestrel, African wattled plover, cisticola and many more.

Maramagambo forest

The Maramagambo forests are situated on the western arm of the Rift Valley along the Kichwamba escarpment. Several bird species can be sotted in this forests such as the brown illadopsis, African emerald cuckoo, African mustached warbler, barbets, African fin-foot, African green pigeon to mention but a few.

Katwe area

The Katwe area is comprised of several Lakes such as Lake Munyanyange which is a haven to lots of lesser flamingos and a few greater flamingos. Other water birds seen here include marsh tchagra, chest-nut wattle eye, Sulphur-breasted bush shrike, black bishop, white-breasted Nigro-finch and many more bird types.

The Mweya peninsular area

The Mweya peninsular is a chucky grass cover with dense vegetation dominated by candelabra and thorny bushes and shrubs. This landmass juts into Lake Edward’s sapphire waters and is a habitat to a plethora of wildlife and birdlife. Bird species spotted here include the swamp flycatcher, grey-headed kingfisher, Nubian woodpecker, swamp nightjar, swallows, martins, African morning dove, little bee eater and many other bird species.

Lake Kikorongo area

Lake Kikorongo is an extension of Lake George and therefore a perfect spot to see several bird species for example the saddle-billed stork, shoebill stork, swamp flycatcher, swamp Gonolek, yellow wagtail, black crake, African jacana, knob-billed duck, sacred ibis to mention but a few.

Katunguru bridge area

The Katunguru bridge is where the Kazinga channel crosses from Kasese to Rubirizi district and is surrounded by several papyrus swamps that harbor bird species like the lesser swamp warbler, white-winged warbler, malachite kingfisher, white-winged tern, pied kingfisher, greater swamp warbler, papyrus Gonolek and many more.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is situated in the southwestern region of the country notably known to harbor half of the world’s remaining gorilla population. This National Park is not only a haven to the gorillas but also a home to several bird species with over 350bird types recorded. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a dwelling place to 24 out of the 25 Albertine Rift endemic bird species, 76out of the 144 Guinea-Congo forest biome bird species and 68 out of the 86 Afro-tropical highland biome bird species which makes it a perfect spot for bird enthusiasts. There are several birding trails that have been developed so that birders can easily catch sights of these fascinating feathered creatures and these include the Mubwindi swamp trail in Ruhija, the waterfall trail in Buhoma, bamboo zone and many others. Bird species that are usually spotted on a birding expedition in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include the Rwenzori batis, Handsome spur fowl, Doherty’s bush shrike, Shelley’s crimson wing, regal sunbird, grauer’s broadbill, mountain oriole, black-billed turaco, black-bee eater, African emerald cuckoo, common bulbul, short-tailed warbler, red-headed bluebill, great blue turaco, black collared Apalis, ross’s turaco, malachite kingfisher, blue-breasted kingfisher, grey-headed kingfisher, woodland kingfisher, speckled mouse bird, montane oriole, stripe-breasted tit, yellow-fronted canary, blue-headed coucal, speckled tinker bird, bronze sunbird, red-throated alethe, European roller, broad billed roller, blue-throated roller, black-headed Gonolek, Kivu ground thrush, pin-tailed whydah, Rwenzori nightjar, Afep pigeon to mention but a few.

Kibale forest National Park

Kibale National Park is a birder’s paradise with over 350 bird species that are spotted throughout the entire year. Bird watching in Kibale National Park is carried out through the Park’s broad walk trails to Bigodi wetland sanctuary and Magombe swamp that is known to house over 138 bird types. Bird species of Kibale National Park include the great blue turaco, papyrus canary, white-winged warbler, white-collared olive-back, crowned eagle, yellow-billed barbet, papyrus Gonolek, western nicator, blue-headed sunbird, green-breasted pitta, white-napped pigeon, purple-breasted sunbird, lowland masked Apalis, nahan’s partridge, black bee eater, slender-billed weaver, pin-tailed whydah, tropical boubou, African pied wagtail, grey parrot, Abyssinian ground thrush, brown illadopsis, Rwenzori Apalis, red-chested owlet, Cassin’s spine-tail to mention but a few.

Lake Mburo National Park

This is Uganda’s smallest savannah National Park housing to more than 310 bird species that have been recorded making it a perfect place for bird watching. Bird watching spots in Lake Mburo National Park include the marshy areas of Miriti swamp, salt lick areas, in the forest of Rubanga, Warukiri swamp, around Rwonyo camp and around the Park’s Lakes such as Lake Mburo and others that form the Park’s wetland system. Bird species spotted in Lake Mburo National Park include the shoebill stork, green wood-hoopoe, white-headed barbet, coqui francolin, rufous-bellied heron, grey-crowned cranes, red-faced barbet, pied kingfisher, saddle-billed stork, speckled mouse bird, black-bellied bustard, papyrus Gonolek, malachite kingfisher, African wattled lapwing, African fin-foot to mention but a few.

Mabamba Bay wetland

Mabamba wetland is situated on the northern shore of Lake Victoria just 12km west of Entebbe. This wetland is one of Uganda’s most Important Birding sites housing to over 300 bird species including the elusive shoebill stork. Bird watching in this swamp is done on wooden canoe through the swamp’s developed trails as you look out for bird species like African pygmy goose, blue-breasted bee eater, lesser jacana, pied kingfisher, double-toothed barbet, black-crowned night heron, green cuckoo, yellow-billed duck, little egret, great cormorant, red-eyed dove, red-headed love bird, swamp flycatcher, white-faced whistling duck, yellow-billed kite, village weavers, veilots black weaver, marsh harrier, wood sandpiper, black-headed weaver, papyrus Gonolek, common moorhen, shinning blue kingfisher, spur-winged goose to mention but a few.

Semuliki National Park

Semliki National Park is birder’s paradise housing to over 400 bird species that can easily be spotted around the Park’s watching spots such as River Kirumia area, Sempaya, Ntandi and many more. Bird species that can be spotted in Semliki National Park include red-billed dwarf hornbills, yellow throated nicator, ross’s turaco, piping hornbill, western bronze-napped pigeon, spot-breasted ibis, long-tailed hawk, Nkulengu rail, white-bellied kingfisher, black-throated coucal, yellow-throated cuckoo, Rwenzori nightjar, Rwenzori batis, regal sunbird, Rwenzori turaco and many more.

Mountain Rwenzori National Park

Mountain Rwenzori National Park is a home to over 217 bird species 19 of which are endemic to the Albertine Rift region. Bird species to lookout in Mountain Rwenzori National Park include golden winged sunbird, white stirred robin, long eared owl, slender billed starling, archer’s robin chat, cinnamon chested bee-eater, bearded vulture, black eagle, strange weavers, montane sooty boubou, lagden’s bush shrike, Rwenzori batis, African green pigeon, great blue turaco, treron calvus, corythaeola cristata, lemon dove, white-napped pigeon, red-eyed dove eastern plantain eater, white-browed coucal to mention but a few.

Kidepo valley National Park

Kidepo valley National Park boasts a bird list of over 475 bird species including the East Africa’s rarest and most sought after bird species such as the Karamoja Apalis and the black-breasted barbet. Kidepo National Park has 16 Sudan and Guinea savannah, 4 Guinea-Congo forest biome species 3 out of the 32 Somali-Masai biome species. The Park’s major bird types include the Kori bustard, ostrich, red-throated bee-eater, secretary bird, Abyssinian ground hornbill and many more. The Park is also notable for its 58 species of birds of prey including the Egyptian vulture, pygmy falcon, verreaux eagle and many more. Other bird species to look out in Kidepo Valley National Park include superb starling, piacpiac, red-billed oxpecker, pygmy sunbird, Abyssinian scimitar-bill, yellow-billed shrike, fan-tailed raven, red-winged lark, yellow-spotted petronia, taita fiscal, chestnut sparrow, Emin’s shrike, African-pied hornbill to mention but a few.

Best time for bird watching

The best time for bird watching is during the dry season in the months of December to February and June to August when the birding trails are dry, accessible and not slippery. During the dry season, one has ample time for bird watching since he/she is not easily disturbed by rainfall. On the other hand, some would preferably choose the period between May to September as the most ideal time for birding since there are less rainfalls and the food for the birds is abundant. Migratory bird species are easily seen in the months of November to April when they move into the country in large numbers. However Uganda has a lot to offer other than birding expeditions and these include fascinating and adventurous activities like mountain gorilla trekking, game drives, chimpanzee trekking, adrenaline activities like bungee jumping, white water rafting, mountain climbing and biking, houseback riding, horseback riding and many more.

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