Birding in Uganda is an adventurous activity. Uganda is famously known as a birding paradise and haven harbouring over half of the bird species found in Africa. It isn’t only the sheer number of bird species that are documented within Uganda’s boundaries which makes it a paradise for birders, it is the easy admittance to the numerous bird-rich territories that are often complicated to get to in other countries.
The diverse habitats in Uganda’s most ancient forest appear to be the perfect habitat for a diversity of bird species, with over 1000 species recorded.
These bird species mostly migrated from the shores of Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile and from the Albertine Rift. You can get to see these bird species from places like:
These are some of the Albertine Rift endemic species found in Uganda;
Other species that are simple to spot are the Red-headed Bluebill, African Emerald Cuckoo, African Blue plus White-tailed Blue Flycatchers and the Common Bulbul.
These are the top 10 bird species that a lot of birders take interest in while on their birding tour in Uganda.
Some birds can only be found in some areas; however, Uganda is blessed with many birding spots where bird lovers can enjoy a birding trip and look out for these beautiful species. A skilled bird watcher can identify more than 100 species in just a single day. Starting early offers the finest opportunity of finding the remarkable beautiful species.
The most common birding spots in Uganda include;
Bwindi is a bird-watchers’ paradise, with 347 bird species. It is home to 24 of the total 25 Albertine Rift endemic bird species. Furthermore, Bwindi is the dwelling place for 76 of the 144 Guinea-Congo-forest biome bird species that are found in Uganda. The area also qualifies for the Afro-tropical-highland biome bird species with 68 of the total 86, as well as for the Lake Victoria-biome with 4 of the 12 species.
Birds are very abundant and very easy to spot; several species connecting in assorted feeding flocks which are active all through the day. The main birding trails where birders can catch sight of these amazing creatures are the Bamboo Zone, the Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija and the Waterfall trail in Buhoma.
Some of the bird species include; Western Green Tinkerbird, African Wood Owl, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Red-throated Alethe, Fine-banded Woodpecker etc.
It is also home to over 180 species of birds inclusive of the Albertine Rift region endemics. Perfect viewing points are along the community and or farm trail, the Gorge trail and the Bamboo trail.
Species found here include: Brown Woodland Warbler, Kivu Ground-thrush, Stripe-breasted Tit, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Rwenzori Turaco etc
The park is home to over 451 bird species. The diverse species include the Albertine Rift Endemics, the Waterbirds and the Savannah Forest Birds. The shoebill is the major bird attraction that many come to see.
Other species including; Dark Chanting-Goshawk, Martial Eagle, White-faced Whistling Duck, Hugli’s Francolin, Hamerkop, Rock Pratincole among others.
The variety of species range from the forest and woodland dwellers to the 54-raptor species, the water birds and those that migrated from other areas. There are different sections in this park, with each section harbouring different bird species. The sections include;
The park in total has got over 600 bird species and some of these include; Hooded Vulture, Martial Eagle, Grey Kestrel, African Wattled Plover, Black-bellied Bustard, Black-lored Babbler, White-tailed Lark etc.
This park harbours over 400 species of birds with 9 species of Hornbill. It has exceptional watching points at Ntandi, Sempaya and River Kirumia area.
Species include; Yellow-throated Nicator, Great blue and Ross’s Turacos, Piping Hornbill, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Xavier’s Greenbul etc.
The park neighbors the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary with over 350 species of bird. The Bigodi wetland sanctuary is in Kanyanchu and Magombe swamp and has over 138 bird species that can be observed by the broad walk trails by the birders.
The main species found here include; Papyrus Canary, White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, White-collared Oliveback., Crowned Eagle, Yellow-billed Barbet and more.
The birding spots here 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. Species include; the rare Red-faced Barbet, Grey crowned Crane, Rufous-bellied Heron, White-headed barbet, Common Scimitarbill, Bateleur, Coqui Francolin, Green Wood-hoopoe etc.
The mountains are home to close to 217 species. 19 of these are the endemics of the Albertine Rift Valley Region. Species that are likely to be seen here are 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.
Birding along the Nile River is done with a boat cruise and it harbors over 60 bird species. Species here include; Giant Kingfisher, Green-backed Herons, African Open-billed Storks, Rock Pratencols, and Great Blue Turacos.
This forest reserve has over 150 bird species and 18 of these species are endemic. Notable species include; Archer’s Robin-Chat, Grauer’s Warbler, Mountain Masked Apalis, Doherty’s Bush-Shrike, Dwarf Honey guide, Collared Apalis and Strip-breasted Tit.
The royal mile in Budongo Forest near Murchison Falls National Park is home to over 250 bird species. The main bird species include; Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Spotted Greenbul, Blue-throated Roller, Fire-crested Alethe, Rufous-crowned Elemomela and White-thighed Hornbill.
This sanctuary is home to the rare shoe bill stork. The other species include; African Black Crake, African Fish Eagle, Black-crowned Waxbill, African Grey Hornbill, African Golden Oriole, African Darter and African Broad Bill.
Lutembe Bay is in the Lake Victoria Basin and is home to millions of all kinds of Palearctic migrant and Indigenous birds. It is habitat to more than 200 bird species, of these 26 are migratory. These include the African Pygmy Kingfisher, Holub’s Golden weaver, White-winged Black Tern, African Green Pigeon, Lead-colored Flycatcher, Sooty Chat, Tropical Boubou and Brown-backed Scrub robins.
This swampy area is located at the edge of Lake Victoria and is only an hour’s drive from the City Center. A birding adventure is done with a 3-person wooden boat canoe. You can expect to see; Shoebill Stork, Pied Kingfishers, Blue-breasted Bee eaters, African and Lesser Jacannas and African Pygmy Goose.
It is advisable to carry the necessary requirements that will help you on your birding safari including; Binoculars, a map for the location, long sleeved trousers and shirts, enough drinking water, and many more.
Although bird watching can be done all year round, the weather can be a limiting factor for some birders. The best time for bird watching would be the dry season in most of the parks between January to February and June to August. The trails are dry and not slippery thus trekking can be easy. You will also have enough time for bird-watching. However, some would say the most ideal time is between late May to September, when there’s less rain and the food is abundant. From November to April, migratory birds can be found in the parks. Birding is best done early in the morning and it’s easy to spot many bird species at that time. The parks tend to be crowded in the high season with many visitors coming in between June to September.
Apart from the many birding species found in Uganda, the country offers many other adventurous activities including; mountain gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking, mountain climbing, cultural exploration, cycling, white water rafting, bungee jumping and many more.
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