Birding In Uganda – Best Places For Bird Watching Safari

Birding In Uganda – Best Places For Bird Watching Safari

Birding in Uganda : Uganda is a birder’s paradise thanks to its sheer number of birds documented within its boundaries, the country boasts a massive bird list of more than 1073 recorded bird species making up 505 of Africa’s bird species and 11% of the world species. This huge bird checklist is protected within a small territory of 90,041 square miles hence having the highest concentration of birds per square kilometers in Africa.

Birding in Uganda is one of the top safari activities to do in the country, Uganda has diverse habitats and the most of them are ancient forests which are perfect habitat for a diversity of bird species.

uganda birds

Uganda has up to 34 Important Bird Area (IBA) many of which have been developed for bird watching and birding tours, Some of the popular birding places in Uganda include

Birds of Uganda

Uganda hosts some of the Albertine Rift Endemic bird species including

  • Fox’s Weaver
  • Blue-headed Sunbird
  • Short-tailed Warbler
  • Ruwenzori Nightjar
  • Rwenzori Turaco
  • Red-throated Alethe
  • African Green Broadbill
  • Red-faced Woodland Warbler
  • Handsome Francolin
  • Collared Apalis
  • Mountain Masked Apalis
  • Archer’s Robin-Chat
  • Dwarf Honeyguide
  • Grauer’s Warbler
  • Dusky Crimson wing
  • Rwenzori Batis
  • Purple-breasted Sunbird
  • Regal Sunbird
  • Shelley’s Crimson-wing
  • Stripe-breasted Tit
  • Grauer’s Rush Warbler
  • Kivu Ground Thrush
  • Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher
  • Strange Weaver
  • Chapin’s Flycatcher

Other bird species that are simple to spot in Uganda include Red-headed Bluebill, African Emerald Cuckoo, African Blue plus White-tailed Blue Flycatchers, and the Common Bulbul among others.

Uganda’s Top Bird Species To Look Out For on a Birding Safari

Here are the top 10 bird species that many birders are interested in while on their birding safari in Uganda.

  1. The Pre-historic Shoebill

This is remarkable bird is found in Murchison Falls National Park or Mabamba Island, the shoe bill is one of the few indefinable and uncommon bird species sighted in Uganda. It is a large bird with a whale head and can mostly be seen in marshy areas, the adult’s feathers are medium blue-grey in color while the juveniles are abit browner.

  1. The Great Blue Turaco

These are large birds often hunted for their meat and feathers, they are also poor at flying and thus end up soaring for shorter distances.

The great blue turaco is a bird species of the family Musphagidae, it has predominantly grey-blue plumage with an upright blue-black crest around 10 cm (3.9 in) high.

  1. Shelly’s Crimson-Wing

These are rarely sighted birds in Uganda, their bills are bright red. The female ones have olive heads and red mantle while the males have their backs, face and crown all covered in bright red.

Shelly’s Crimson-Wing

  1. The Short-tailed Warbler

Often identified as the Neumann’s Warbler, a little bird with a large head with a unique striped outline and a very short tail has a broad arch of hair above each greyish – brown eye and while the front of its eye is a dull green and white.

  1. The African Green Broadbill

These birds are hard to spot but are found in the tropical forests, soggy lowlands. Its throat is encircled with a black line and its breast is green in color.

The African Green Broadbill

  1. The Green-breasted Pitta

The Green-breasted Pitta is one of only two pitta species found on the continent, his spectacular short – tailed upright bird with a distinctive bottle – green breast, a black and buff head, a white throat, a scarlet belly and shiny blue spotted wings and rump.

The Green-breasted Pitta

  1. The Doherty’s Bushshrike

This beautiful bird with an olive back, red throat and forehead, yellow belly and black chest bad. There is a rare morph in which the red is replaced with yellow.

The younger birds have a pale green color and striped green and yellow underparts.

The Doherty’s Bushshrike

  1. The Bar-tailed Trogon

These birds live in forests, they have yellow feet and a bill and a far reaching long trail. Females have brown heads and light cinnamon throat and breast, while the males have blue-black heads, two orange and or yellow patches below the eyes that are of bare skin and luminous colors of green-blue and violet on their upper breast.

The Bar-tailed Trogon

  1. The Bar-tailed Trogon

These beautiful birds live in forests, have yellow feet and a bill and a far-reaching long tail. Females have brown heads and a light cinnamon throat and breast. While the males have blue –black heads, two orange and or yellow patches below the eyes that are of bare skin and luminous colors of green-blue and violet on their upper breast.

  1. The Black-breasted Barbet

These birds have big heads and a hefty bill that is fringed with hackles, they are solitary birds that classically shell in tree openings. They feed on fruit, insects and small reptiles. The females lay about 2to 4 eggs and both birds then incubate them for a period of 13 to 15 days.

Best Places for Birding in Uganda

Uganda is blessed with many birding spots where bird lovers can enjoy doing birding safaris and lookout for these beautiful species, a skilled bird watcher on a Uganda birding safari can identify more than 100 species in just a single day.

Best places to for birding in Uganda are as listed below

  1. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a birder’s paradise with over 347bird species and is home to 24 of the total 25 Albertine Rift Endemic bird species, 76 of the 144 Guinea-Congo-forest biome bird species found in Uganda. This thick forest also qualifies for the Afro-tropical-highland biome bird species with 68 of the total 86 species. The Lake Victoria biome has 4 of the 12 species.

In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park birds are very abundant and very easy to spot, several species connect in mixed feeding flocks that are very active all throughout the day. The main birding trails where birds can catch sight of several birds in forest are the Bamboo Zone, the Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija and the Waterfall trail in Buhoma.

birds of bwindi

Some of the bird species you may spot on a birding safari in Bwindi include Wood Warbler, Handsome Francolin, Evergreen Warbler, Turner’s Eremomela, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Rwenzori Batis, Buff-throated Apalis, African Pitta, Cabanis’s Greenbul, Cardinal Woodpecker, Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle, Cassin’s Honeybird, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Collared Sunbird, Common Bulbul, Compact Weaver, Coppery Sunbird, Crowned Hornbill, Dark-backed Weaver, Dusky Crested Flycatcher, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Dusky Tit, Stripe-breasted Tit, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Red-headed Malimbe, Fork-tailed Drongo, Great Blue Turaco, Greater Blue-eared Starling, Green Crombec, White-tailed Blue-flycatcher, Brown Woodland Warbler, White-browed Crombec, Green Hylia, Green-headed Sunbird, Tiny Sunbird, Green-throated Sunbird, Grey Apalis, Grey-backed/Green-backed Camaroptera, Grey-headed Negrofinch, White-breasted Negrofinch and Grey-headed Sparrow among others.

  1. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

In addition to mountain gorillas and golden monkeys, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is also home to over 180 bird species which makes it a great birding spot in Uganda.

The park’s bird species include the Albertine Rift region endemics – 14 of the 24 species and 39 of the 88 species of Afro-tropical highlands biome that occur in Uganda. The perfect points for birding in Mgahinga are the community or farm trail, the Gorge trail and the Bamboo trail.

Birds to lookout for in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park include White-necked raven, Black kite, Pin-tailed whydah, Double-collared sunbird, Speckled mouse bird, Paradise flycatcher, Ibis, Whydah, Speckled Mouse birds, Fire Finch Stonechat, Grey Capped Warbler, Waxbills, Yellow-Vented Bulbul.Alpine chat, Alpine, Archer’s robin-chat, Blue-headed coucal, Dusky crimson wing, Kivu ground-thrush, Olive pigeon, Olive woodpecker, Ruwenzori batis, Ruwenzori nightjar and Ruwenzori turaco among others.

  1. Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is home to over 451 bird species including the Albertine Rift Endemics, water birds and savannah forest birds.

Birds to lookout for in Murchison Falls on birding safari in Uganda include Gray crowned crane(Uganda’s National bird), Giant Kingfisher, Giant Heron, Shoebill stork, Abyssinian Ground Hornbills, Nightjars, Marabou stork, Black headed lapwing, Back-bellied Bustard among others.

  1. Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is listed among the best places to go for birding safari in Uganda, the park is home to 600 species of birds including 54-raptor species, water species and migratory species.

Birds in Queen Elizabeth National Park are found in different sections with each section harboring different bird species, the sections include Kasenyi with over 60 species, Mweya Peninsula with over 70 species, Katunguru Bridge Area, Lake Kikorngo, Ishasha Sector, Katwe Area and Maramagambo Forest.

Some of the birds to look out for during your Uganda birding safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park include African Fish Eagle, Grey Crowned Crane, Shoebill Stork, African Skimmer, Martial Eagle, Lappet-faced Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Black-headed Gonolek, Red-throated Bee-eater, Great Blue Turaco, Yellow-billed Stork, African Jacana, African Pied Wagtail, Pink-backed Pelican, African Spoonbill, African Paradise Flycatcher, Malachite Kingfisher, African Openbill, Black-headed Heron and Hamerkop among others.

  1. Semuliki National Park

Semuliki National Park is a great Uganda birding spot with over 400 species of birds including 9 species of Hornbills, the park has exceptional watching points including Ntandi, Sempaya and River Kirumia Area. The park is characterized by a diverse range of habitats including tropical lowland rainforest, grasslands, swamps and riparian forests supporting a rich variety of avian life.

On Uganda birding safari in Semuliki National Park, some of the birds to lookout include African Grey Parrot, Nkulengu Rail, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Piping Hornbill, White-crested Hornbill, African Piculet, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, African Pied Hornbill, White-bellied Kingfisher, African Dwarf Kingfisher, Shining-blue Kingfisher, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Dwarf Honeyguide, Green-tailed Bristlebill, Red-billed Helmetshrike, Red-eyed Puffback, Zenker’s Honeyguide and African Shrike-flycatcher among others.

  1. Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park famously known as a Primate Capital of Africa is not only a great place to see primates including chimpanzees, it is also a great birding destination with over 375 bird species living within its boundaries.

The park’s diverse habitats including moist evergreen forest, swampy areas and grasslands provide ideal conditions for a wide variety of bird species. Some of the notable bird species that you will spot in Kibale National Park on Uganda birding safari include African Grey Parrot, Great Blue Turaco, Yellow-billed Barbet, White-spotted Flufftail, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Black-crowned Waxbill, Grey-winged Robin-Chat, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Green-breasted Pitta, Narina Trogon, Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill, White-thighed Hornbill and Red-chested Owlet among others.

  1. Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park – the smallest savannah park in Uganda is a great birding destination and a great spot to enjoy sightings of waterbirds, raptors and various other species adapted to the savannah and woodland habitats.

The birding spots in Lake Mburo National Park include the marshy areas of Miriti at the salt lick and in the forest of Rubanga and Warukiri, the waysides amongst the landing stage and the Camp Rwonyo.

Some of the birds to see in Lake Mburo National Park on a Uganda birding safari include African Fish Eagle, Grey Crowned Crane, Rufous-bellied Heron, African Finfoot, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Black-bellied Bustard, Red-faced Barbet, Lilac-breasted Roller, African Harrier-Hawk, White-winged Warbler, African Scops Owl, Long-tailed Cisticola, Brown Parrot, Red-headed Lovebird, Black-collared Barbet, Crested Francolin, Green-backed Camaroptera, Brown-chested Lapwing, Black-headed Gonolek and Mosque Swallow among others

  1. Rwenzori Mountains National Park

The Mountains of The Moon – Rwenzori Mountains hosts 217 species of birds with nine of these being the endemics of the Albertine Rift Valley Region, species you are likely to spot on a birding safari in the Rwenzori Mountains include the Golden-winged and Blue-headed Sunbird, Rwenzori Turaco, White-starred Robin, Long-eared Owl, Slender-billed Starling, Archer’s Robin-chat, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Laden’s Bush-shrike, Bearded Vultures, and Black Eagles, among others.

  1. Mabamba Swamps

The Mabamba Swamp is a wetland of international importance and a haven for bird watchers situated on the northern shores of Lake Victoria near Entebbe in Uganda. The wetland is renowned for its population of the elusive and highly sought-after shoebill, a prehistoric –looking bird with a large, distinctive bill.

In addition to the shoebill stork, other birds to spot in Mabamba Swamps include African Jacana, Malachite Kingfisher, African Fish Eagle, White-faced Whistling Duck, African Pygmy Goose, Long-toed Lapwing, Goliath Heron, Yellow-billed Duck, Squacco Heron, African Marsh Harrier, African Openbill, Pied Kingfisher, Yellow-backed Weaver and Blue-breasted Bee-eater among others.

Other great birding spots in Uganda worth visiting on a Uganda birding safari include

  • Nile River Birding in Jinja
  • Echuya Forest Reserve
  • The Royal Mile- Budongo Forest
  • Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
  • Lutembe Bay

Things to carry and the best time for a birding safari in Uganda

On a Uganda birding safari, it is advisable to carry various items that will help you during your safari, these include

  • Binoculars
  • A map of the location
  • Long-sleeved trousers and shirts
  • Enough drinking water and many more.

 Best Time for birding safari in Uganda

Although bird watching can be done all year round, the weather in Uganda can be a limiting factor for some birders, the best time for bird watching is during the dry season in most parks, between January to February and June to August. During this time the trails are dry and not slippery, thus trekking can be easy. Also, you will have enough time for bird-watching.

However, someone would say the most ideal time for birding in Uganda is between late May to September when there is less rain and the food is abundant. From November to April, migratory birds can be found in the parks.

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