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Uganda Birding Experience



Uganda is home to over 1000 bird species recorded making it more than 50% and 11% of Africa and world’s bird population respectively. Uganda is renowned for its array of specialty and endemic species including but not limited to the shoebill stork, African green broadbill, African grey parrot, Ruwenzori turaco, Rwenzori batis, Ruwenzori nightjar, Shelley’s crimsonwing, green-breasted pitta, goliath heron and many more. Uganda offers an exceptional birding experience, boasting a remarkable diversity of bird species due to its varied habitats ranging from rainforests and savannahs to wetlands and mountains.

Birding in Uganda offers the chance to explore diverse habitats, from lush rainforests and montane forests to open savannahs, wetlands, and crater lakes. Each habitat supports its own unique birdlife. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is particularly famous for its population of Albertine Rift endemics, while Queen Elizabeth National Park offers excellent birding opportunities along the Kazinga Channel and in the Maramagambo Forest. In addition to national parks, Uganda’s numerous Important Bird Areas (IBAs) offer fantastic birding opportunities. These include places like Budongo Forest Reserve, Mabamba swamp, Semliki National Park, and Lake Mburo National Park

Many birding tours in Uganda support local conservation efforts, contributing to the protection of critical habitats and threatened bird species. By participating in responsible birding tourism, visitors can help promote sustainable development while conserving Uganda’s rich avifauna for future generations. Whether you’re a novice birder or a seasoned enthusiast, Uganda offers a birding experience like no other, with its incredible diversity of species, stunning landscapes, and expert guides ensuring an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Africa.

Uganda’s birding locations include different parks, swamps, forests and conservation areas situated in different parts of the country. This diverse range of habitats with many of them as forests has made it perfect for the diverse bird species recorded which includes the following;

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Bwindi is one of Africa’s most biodiverse and ancient rainforests and offers a unique opportunity to be explored with some of the most sought after bird species with over 350 species making it a birder’s paradise in the Albertine Rift which makes it a hotspot for endemics as is home to many. Through trails like Buhoma waterfall trail, Mubwindi swamp trail, Bamboo zone, Kashasha River and Ivy river trail one is spoilt for choice as all trails will feed the eye enough with the available bird species in the different areas.

Some of the bird species are Rwenzori turaco, regal sunbirds, African green pigeon, African green broadbill, shelley’s crimsonwing, black bee-eater, grauer’s broadbill, handsome francolin, kivu ground thrush, montane oriole, western green tinkerbird, African emerald cuckoo, crowned hornbill, giant kingfisher, Rwenzori batis, Rwenzori nightjar, apalis, fly catchers and many more. Birding in Bwindi will allow you connect with nature while exploring one of the most remarkable eco systems with an opportunity to combine it with primate trekking as it’s also home to more than half of the world’s mountain gorillas fully habituated giving you a multifaceted experience.

Lake Mburo

Birding in Lake Mburo National Park offers a unique opportunity to explore a diverse range of habitats, including savannah, acacia woodlands, and wetlands, which support a rich variety of bird species. The park offers several prime birding locations, including the swampy areas around Lake Mburo and Lake Kacheera, as well as the acacia woodlands and grasslands within the park. Birding drives along the park’s network of roads and walking trails provide ample opportunities to spot a diverse range of bird species. Birds like African Finfoot, African jacana, white-backed duck, egrets, herons, Abyssinian ground hornbill, red-faced barbet, crested francolin, bee-eaters, weavers, martial eagles, lappet-faced vultures, grey-crowned crane, papyrus gonolek, yellow-breasted apalis, malachite kingfisher, crested barbet, African fish eagle, mariqua sunbird and many more.

Mabamba swamp

Mabamba swamp is a must for birders as it’s both a Ramser site and one of the best birding destinations in Uganda situated west of Entebbe town. The swamp is home to about 300 bird species including threatened, migratory and restricted species certainly making a birder’s haven. Mabamba Swamp is one of the best places in Africa to see the elusive Shoebill, a prehistoric-looking bird with a large shoe-shaped bill. Spotting a Shoebill in its natural habitat is a highlight of any birding trip to Mabamba. The swamp is home to a diverse array of bird species, including herons, egrets, storks, ibises, spoonbills, and ducks, African Jacanas, Squacco Herons, African Pygmy Geese, and Yellow-billed Ducks, among others. Mabamba Swamp is characterized by extensive stands of papyrus, which provide habitat for several bird species endemic to papyrus swamps like papyrus gonolek, white-winged warbler, and papyrus canary, among others.

Birding excursions in Mabamba Swamp often involve guided boat safaris, allowing visitors to explore the swamp’s waterways and channels while searching for birdlife. Boat trips provide excellent opportunities to see elusive species such as the Shoebill and offer a unique perspective on the swamp’s biodiversity. Birding in Mabamba Swamp offers a unique opportunity to explore one of Uganda’s most important wetland habitats while encountering a diverse array of bird species, including the iconic Shoebill. Whether you’re a novice birder or a seasoned enthusiast, Mabamba Swamp promises an unforgettable birding experience in the heart of Africa.

Budongo Forest

Budongo forest is a reserve offering bird watchers a chance to explore one of Uganda’s biodiverse and pristine rainforests situated in the south eastern part of Murchison falls national park and is home to 360 bird species making it a rich destination. Its diverse habitats, including primary and secondary tropical rainforest, provide a haven for a wide range of birdlife.

Some of the notable bird species found in Budongo Forest include the Puvel’s illadopsis, yellow-footed flycatcher, chocolate-backed kingfisher, African dwarf kingfisher, Ituri batis, white-thighed hornbill, and many more. The forest is also home to numerous forest specialists and sought-after species. Also known for rare and endemic bird species such as the Nahan’s francolin, African pitta and the yellow-browed camaroptera with other species like Ethiopian swallow, nightingale, rufous chested swallow, latham francolin, pigeons, doves, great blue turaco, Ross’s turaco, white-crested turaco, cuckoos, spinetail, alpine swifts, African jacana, lesser jacana, sandpiper, African darter, egrets, snake eagles, African harrier hawk, mousebirds, hoopoes, bee-eaters and many more.

Mgahinga Forest

Birding in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park offers a unique opportunity to explore a biodiverse montane forest habitat in the Virunga Mountains. While the park is primarily known for its population of mountain gorillas, it also boasts a rich variety of bird species. Key birding areas within Mgahinga Forest include the Bamboo Zone, where you may encounter species such as the Stripe-breasted Tit and Archer’s Robin-Chat, and the montane forest, where you can search for the Albertine Rift endemics and other forest-dwelling species.

Mgahinga is part of the Albertine Rift, a biodiversity hotspot known for its high levels of endemism. The forest is home to several bird species found only in this region, such as the Rwenzori Turaco, Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Batis, and Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird. The montane forest habitat of Mgahinga is teeming with birdlife. Look out for species such as the Dusky Turtle Dove, Olive Pigeon, African Hill Babbler, Mountain Yellow Warbler, and Montane Oriole. While birding in Mgahinga, you may also have the opportunity to encounter the endangered Golden Monkey, a primate species endemic to the Albertine Rift. Keep an eye out for these charismatic monkeys as they move through the forest canopy.

Kibale Forest

Kibale is another bird watcher’s paradise situated in the western part of Uganda close to Fort Portal with more than 350 bird species recorded and 13 primate species including the popular Chimpanzees. Kibale has forest birds, Albertine endemics, endemics and migratory birds making a haven for bird watchers. The forest also has four birds that haven’t been recorded in any other parks namely Cassin’s spinetail, blue-headed bee-eater, Nahan’s francolin and Masked apalis.

With trails like Kanyanchu, Bigodi wetland, Sebitoli forest and the crater lakes, one is certain of bird sightings at whatever point they settle for as all habitats have a diverse range of bird species and the help of an experienced guide who will avail all information and support as and when required. Expect to see birds like great blue turaco, green breasted pitta, black-headed gonolek, purple-breasted sunbird, masked apalis, papyrus gonolek, papyrus canary, double-toothed barbet, nahan’s francolin, African pitta, pied kingfisher, blue shouldered robin chat, dusky crimsonwing, warblers, weavers, starlings, African green pigeon, fly catchers and many more; with primates like chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, blue monkeys, olive baboons and many more. One always has the opportunity of combining bird watching with primate activities like trekking or habituation.

Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi, located in southwestern Uganda, is a delightful experience due to its rich avian diversity and stunning natural beauty and the second largest lake in Africa. Lake Bunyonyi is renowned for its tranquil atmosphere, lush greenery, and numerous small islands dotting its waters, creating an ideal habitat for a wide variety of bird species as the name Bunyonyi means ‘the place of little birds’ and its home to about 200 bird species. While birdwatching can be rewarding throughout the area, some specific hotspots around Lake Bunyonyi are particularly renowned for birding. These include Bwama Island, Bushara Island, Kyahugye Island, and Habukomi Island, among others. These areas provide diverse habitats, from marshes and wetlands to woodlands and gardens, attracting a wide range of bird species.

Expect to see birds like African fish eagle, white-headed saw-wing, grey crowned crane, white-tailed blue flycatcher, yellow-backed weaver, red-chested sunbird, black-headed gonolek, white-tailed blue monard, herons, African harrier hawk, egrets, cuckoos, woodpeckers, pied kingfisher, pied wagtail, grey shrike, great cormorant, fan-tailed widow bird, streaky seed-eater, bronze manikin, golden-backed weaver and many more. Other activities like canoeing, hiking, swimming and cultural encounters will still give you a chance to enjoy the different bird species available in and around Lake Bunyonyi. Remember to respect the wildlife and environment during your birding expeditions. Stay on designated paths, avoid disturbing nesting birds, and follow any guidelines provided by local authorities or guides.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park located in western Uganda provides an excellent opportunity to explore the diverse avian life of this renowned conservation area with about 600 bird species and the range of wildlife including the big five which makes for a combined experience. With spots like Maramagambo forest, Kazinga channel, Mweya peninsula, Ishasha sector and Katwe area one can discover the wealth of avian diversity amidst its stunning landscapes as they host a wide array of bird species. Queen Elizabeth National Park encompasses diverse ecosystems, including savannah grasslands, forests, wetlands, and water bodies like lakes and rivers. Each habitat supports different bird species, so explore various areas of the park for a richer birding experience.

The park has several bird species like papyrus gonolek, African skimmers, black-headed gonolek, swamp flycatcher, red-chested sunbird, saddle-billed stork, African jacana, African fish eagle, yellow-billed stork, African finfoot, blue-headed bee-eater, martial eagle, white-tailed lark, shoebill stork, great blue turaco, grey-crowned crane, long-crested eagle, Egyptian vulture, lappet-faced vulture, egrets, flamingos, herons, cormorants, tinker birds, cuckoos and many more together with wildlife like lions, leopards, rhinos, buffaloes, elephants, hyenas, antelopes, warthogs, forest hogs and many more. Birding will certainly be well represent at Queen Elizabeth making for quite the unique experience.

Murchison Falls National Park

Birding in Murchison Falls National Park, located in northwestern Uganda, offers a unique opportunity to observe a diverse range of bird species amidst stunning landscapes and rich wildlife. Murchison Falls National Park is home to over 450 bird species, making it one of the prime birding destinations in Uganda. The park’s varied habitats, including savanna woodlands, riverine forests, wetlands, and grasslands, support a wide array of birdlife.

The park has several designated birding hotspots where birdwatchers are likely to have the best sightings. These include the delta area where the Victoria Nile meets Lake Albert, the riverbanks along the Nile, and the forests around Budongo Forest Reserve. Expect birds like giant kingfisher, giant heron, shoebill stork, Abyssinian ground hornbills, nightjars, marabou stork, black-headed lapwig, back-bellied bustard, goliath heron, swamp flycatcher, silver birds, yellow foot kingfisher, latham francolin, pigeons, doves, great blue turaco, Ross’s turaco, white-crested turaco, cuckoos, spinetail, alpine swifts, African jacana, lesser jacana, sandpiper, African darter, egrets, snake eagles, African harrier hawk, mousebirds, hoopoes, bee-eaters and many more.

Semuliki National Park

Semuliki National Park, located in western Uganda, is a fantastic experience due to its unique habitats and diverse avian population. It’s renowned for its pristine lowland tropical rainforest, which is part of the vast Ituri Forest ecosystem and is home to an incredible diversity of bird species, including many that are rare or endemic to the region. The park is situated within the Albertine Rift, a biodiversity hotspot known for its high levels of endemism. Birdwatchers have the chance to spot several species that are found only in this region, such as the Congo serpent eagle, Nkulengu rail, and Sassi’s olive greenbul.

Semuliki National Park offers various birding hotspots, including the main road through the forest, riverine habitats along the Semuliki River, and the park’s network of trails. The Sempaya area, with its hot springs and forest walks, is particularly popular for birdwatching. Expect birds like spot-breasted ibis, long-tailed hawk, Nkulengu rail, western bronze-naped pigeon, yellow-throated cuckoo, black-throated coucal, white-bellied kingfisher, black dwarf hornbill, white-thighed hornbill, red-rumped tinkerbird, African picalet, Xavier’s greenbul, swamp palm bulbul, fire-crested, crested malimbe, grant’s bluebill and many more on top of the wide range of wildlife and the Sempaya hot springs.

Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Rwenzori Mountains National Park, located in western Uganda and is home to about 217 bird species, offers a unique opportunity to explore one of Africa’s most spectacular mountain ranges while observing a diverse array of bird species adapted to its high-altitude habitats. The park’s montane forests harbor a rich diversity of birdlife, including many species that are endemic to the Albertine Rift region. As you ascend into the higher elevations of the Rwenzori Mountains, you’ll encounter unique bird species adapted to the Afro-alpine zone. The Rwenzori Mountains are home to several bird species that are endemic to the Albertine Rift region.

Birdwatchers can expect to see forest specialists such as Rwenzori turacos, Rwenzori batis, Archer’s robin-chat, Rwenzori double-collared sunbirds, handsome spur fowl, blue-headed sunbird, strange weaver, mountain greenbul, barred long-tailed cuckoo, handsome francolin, bamboo warbler, Rwenzori nightjar, lanner falcon, olive pigeon, dusky flycatcher, bushshrike, montane boubou, regal sunbird, white-necked raven and many more. Birdwatching in Rwenzori Mountains National Park offers a truly immersive experience, combining exceptional birding opportunities with awe-inspiring scenery and unique high-altitude habitats. Whether you’re a seasoned birder or a nature enthusiast, exploring the avian diversity of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is an unforgettable adventure.

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