Birding in Uganda
Birding in Uganda focuses on unique and authentic experiences guided by a team of trained bird guides. The birding safaris are carefully crafted or tailor-made specializing in organizing bird watching safaris in Uganda for birding enthusiasts. Uganda is one of the most attractive countries in Africa offering the best to bird watchers due to the number of bird species recorded within its border and the easy access to several bird-rich habitats that are difficult to reach. Uganda’s remarkable avian diversity-1,008 species recorded in an area similar to that of Great Britain can be attributed to its location at a transitional point between the East African savanna, the West African rainforest and the semi-desert of the north.
Uganda attributes its various bird species to the diversity of the variety of habitats including; arid semi-desert, rich savannahs, lowland and montane rainforests, vast wetlands, volcanoes and an Afro-alpine zone. The rain forests of Western Uganda are the country’s most important bird habitat and of great interest to birdwatchers.
Though most travelers come to Uganda for gorilla trekking, mountain climbing, white water rafting, it also offers great birding safaris to the enthusiasts with amazing opportunities that are exciting, impressive and overwhelming to the traveler offering unforgettable memories.
Uganda has various birding sites in and around Kampala, in Entebbe, in the national parks including;
Mabamba Bay Wetland at Lake Victoria
Mabamba is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of a most sought after shoe billed stork. Lake Victoria is the largest freshwater body in Africa and is home to numerous water birds including the rare shoebill, swamp flycatcher, papyrus gonolek, malachite kingfisher, pied kingfisher, black-headed heron, black kite, African open-billed stork, African jacana, lesser jacana, winding cisticola, Veillot’s black weaver, grosbeak weaver, black-headed weaver and African marsh harrier.
Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park is the largest and oldest national park in Uganda, it derives its name from the mighty Murchison Falls – the world’s strongest waterfalls formed as the Nile is forced through a 7-metre gorge. The park is home to over 450 bird species and birding can be done on a game drive and boat trip on the Nile or a nature walk. A variety of bird habitats exist in the national park, including forests, swamps, riverine woodland, savannah and plains of acacia trees. Look out for the elusive shoebill, swamp flycatcher, goliath heron, abyssinian ground hornbill, northern red bishop, red-throated bee-eater, African quailfinch, pied, malachite and giant kingfishers.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is a paradise for birding enthusiasts, with over 600 bird species birds are relatively easy to spot. The bird species to look out for include the African mourning dove, swamp flycatcher, grey-headed kingfisher, African skimmer, malachite and pied kingfishers, white-winged terns, grey-capped warbler, collared pratincole, pin-tailed whydah, martial eagle, gabon and slender-tailed nightjars, black-headed gonolek, Verreaux’s eagle-owl, sedge warbler, papyrus canary, great white and pink-backed pelicans, African mourning dove and yellow-billed stork. Also look out for the flamingos at the salt lakes of Katwe and Bunyampaka.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is well placed in the Virunga massif rendering it one of the best birding spots in Uganda. The park is home to about 180 bird species with some of the spectacular Albertine Rift endemics. Mgahinga offers excellent bird viewing opportunities along the gorge trail, bamboo trail and farm/community trail. The bird species in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park include Kivu ground thrush, cinnamon bracken warbler, white-starred robin, Rwenzori batis, Archer’s robin chat, olive pigeon, black-headed waxbill, western green tinkerbird, Cape robin, white-starred robin, brown woodland warbler, stripe-breasted tit, brown-crowned tchagra and scarlet-tufted, greater double-collared sunbirds.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi impenetrable National Park is mostly known for its mountain gorillas though it is also Africa’s best birding spot owing this to the rare bird species found in the park. It is easily accessible for birding with maintained birding trails in the forest. Bwindi is home to about 350 species of birds, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics of which 14 are not recorded anywhere else in Uganda. Species to look out for include the African green broadbill, Chapin’s flycatcher, Shelley’s crimsonwing, handsome francolin, mountain-masked and collared apalis, white-bellied robin chat, black billed turaco, Fraser’s eagle, western bronze-naped pigeon, purple-breasted, blue-headed and regal sunbirds.
Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park, located in western Uganda in the Albertine Rift valley does not have a high visitors turnover yet it has a lot to offer for birding enthusiasts. With a record of 441 species in its riverine, forest and grasslands avian habitats. It hosts Guinea-Congo biome species in its lowland forest. The species to look out for include the African piculet, Maxwell’s black weaver, blue-billed malimbe, yellow-throated nicator, black dwarf hornbill, Nkulengu rail, piping hornbill, blue-billed malimbe, yellow-throated cuckoo, dwarf honeyguide, great blue and Ross’s turaco, purple-breasted sunbird, orange weaver, white-crested hornbill, red-billed dwarf hornbill, African piculet and swamp palm bulbul.
Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park is the world’s primate capital and is a prime birding spot as well,with over 375 bird species including six endemic to the Albertine Rift area. It is an excellent birding spot with varied habitat and dense vegetation. The number one sought after bird in the Kibale Forest is the green-breasted pitta. Other bird species to look out for include the red-chested owlet, purple-breasted sunbird, blue-breasted kingfisher, crowned eagle, little greenbul, black bee-eater, white-naped pigeon, scaly-breasted illadopsis, yellow-throated nicator, white-headed wood hoopoe, red-headed malimbe, yellow-spotted barbet, dusky-blue flycatcher, grey-throated flycatcher, grey-winged robin, crested flycatcher, blue-shouldered robin chat, yellow-spotted barbet, black-billed turaco, white-naped pigeon, red-chested flufftail and tiny sunbird.
Mountain Rwenzori National Park
Mountain Rwenzori is the tallest mountain in Uganda with a diverse vegetation rendering habitat to various bird species. The park is home to over 177 bird species, including 19 Albertine Rift endemics. Most of the birding is done while hiking in the forest zone and species to see include Rwenzori turaco, long-eared owl, Archers’ robin-chat, Lagden’s bush shrike, blue-headed and golden-winged sunbird, white-starred robin, slender-billed starling, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, bearded vultures, and swifts.
Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park is one of Uganda’s smallest park but it offers one of the best birding opportunities. Birding is one of the major activities in Lake Mburo National Park, and the best spots for birding are near the swamps at Warukiri and Rwonyo. The park is home to 315 bird species, which include the crested francolin, emerald-spotted wood dove, brown parrot, barefaced go-away bird, red-necked spurfowl, common quails, black-billed barbet, greenwood hoopoe, blue-naped mousebird, lilac-breasted roller, African-grey hornbill, Nubian woodpecker, trilling cisticola, bee-eaters and the cheeky bronze-tailed starling and the majestic crowned crane. You also have chances of sighting the rare African finfoot, shoebill, African fish eagle, and malachite and pied kingfishers while on a boat safari on Lake Mburo
Budongo Forest is mostly known by travelers for its chimpanzee trekking activity yet it is also a birders’ haven. The park has two main sections – Kaniyo Pabidi found in Murchison Falls National Park, and the Royal Mile and Busingiro areas found south of the park. Protecting the largest natural forest area in East Africa, it is home to more than 350 bird species, with the most sought-after birds in this area being the Cassin’s spinetail, chestnut-capped flycatcher, Ituri batis, Nahan’s francolin, black-collared lovebird, brown twinspot, chocolate-backed, blue-breasted and African dwarf kingfishers.
In Uganda birds can be viewed anywhere but the above destinations offer the best birding opportunities to give a memorable experience to to traveler to tick of from their bucket list of bird species.