Uganda Birding Safari, Birding Safari in Uganda, Endemic Bird species of Africa
Birding Safari in Uganda
Uganda is highly known as the best bird-watching destination with a very large number of bird species in Africa which makes it the best exploring site all over the world. Imagine an explorer can find over 300 species of birds in just a single day in Uganda for example like in Kampala around the shores of Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile to the Albertine source. The pearl of Africa has got only one endemic bird species called the fox’s weaver and many other Albertine endemic species that are found in other parts of the country.
Besides other countries, which are famously known as the most attractive birding sites in Africa, Uganda leads the pack among others, not because of the beautiful nature it bears but because it has an odd number of bird-watching safaris in Uganda and it’s noted within its boundaries, and also because it provides simple access to the numerous bird-rich territories that are very hard to get in other places. There is a massive number of bird species—approximately 1,061 in total—that are noted in Uganda, and among these, only two species are endemic and a common sight, while the other four kinds are infrequent species of birds.
In Uganda, there are many bird species in places like Queen Elizabeth National Park, the Bwindi impenetrable forest, Lake Mburo National Park, Lutembe Bay, Murchison Falls, Semeliki National Park, and Mabamba Island, common for the shoebill, among others.Some of the albertine endemic bird species include: Rwenzori Nightjar,red-throated alethe,African green broadbill,red-faced woodland warbler,handsome francolin,short-tailed warbler,collared apalis,mountain masked apalis,archer’s robin-chat,dawrf honey guide,grauer’s warbler,dusky crimsonwing,rwenzoribatis,purple-breasted sunbird,regal sunbird,shelley’s crimsonwing, strip-breasted tit,blue-headed sunbird,grauer’s rush warbler,rwenzorituraco,strip-breasted tit,kivu ground thrush,yellow-eyed black flycatcher, and the strange weaver. 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, whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, and many more. Uganda is blessed with many birding spots where bird lovers can spend time and look out for these beautiful species. The most common birding spots in Uganda include Bwindi impenetrable forest, Murchison Falls, Semuliiki National Park, and many more.
Birding Safari in Bwindi Forest
Besides Bwindi Forest famously known for harboring half of the remaining mountain gorillas, this park is also a very powerful destination for birding. The park covers an area of about 321km2 and is located in south west of Uganda along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. This birding spot is a habitation for over 320 bird species, making 23 of these species endemic to the area.
Some of the bird species include; the western green tinker bird, African wood owl, archer’s robin-chat, red-throated Aletha, fine-banded woodpecker, grauer’s rush warbler, handsome francolin, chestnut-throated apalis, regal sunbird, collared apalis, montane oriole, and short tailed warbler, Kivu ground-thrush, chapin’s flycatcher and African green broadbill and many others.
Gorilla trekking is also another great activity carried here and many tourists who visit this park for birding take part in gorilla trekking as another interesting activity. There are also many other different species found here including the chimpanzees, monkeys, elephants etc. of which explorers can have access to besides the major ones.
Echuya Forest Reserve
This forest reserve is located in the western part of the country bordering Rwanda. This spot harbors over 150 bird species and 18 of these species are endemic.This forest is also known as one of the most important habitats due to its unique flora and fauna, as well as the sustainable tourism initiatives that were carried out. The guides at the reserve are more than happy to help any interested birder engage in a birding exploration.
The commonest bird species include; archer’s robin-chat, grauer’s warbler, mountain masked apalis, Doherty’s bush-shrike, dwarf honey guide, collared Apalis, strip-breasted tit, regal sunbird, montane oriole, Rwenzori batis, grauer’s rush warbler, and white-eyed slaty flycatcher. Etc.
Bigodi Wetland Birding Safari
These two destinations are great birding spots which are located in the western part of the country. Kibale National Park was noted in 1933 and has over 350 species of birds which are also endemic in the two spots. These birds can be spotted while carrying out guided nature walks with an expert birding guide within Bigodi and Kibale National Park. This National Park has got also the highest magnitude of primate species whereby birders can as well enjoy chimpanzee trekking and golden monkey tracking at ago.
The Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is also good for birding and is a community development project located in Magombe swamp, it has over 138 bird species that can be enjoyed by the broad walk trails by the birders. The main bird species found in these birding spots include; crowned eagle, yellow spotted nicator, black-capped apalis, dusky crimson wing, black bee-eater, black-eared ground thrush, Abyssinian ground thrush, African pitta, yellow-rumped tinker bird, collared apalis, green-breasted pitta, brown-chested alethe, and the purple-breasted sunbird etc.
Mgahinga National Park
This birding spot is located in the far south west of the country and is bordering Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This park also has one group of Gorilla trekking and many other mammal species. The safari park is the least of all the National Parks in Uganda and it harbors over 115 bird species. The birders who visit the park can engage in many guided walks as well as aiding them enjoy different birding sessions within the park. The Gorge trail within the park also harbors many bird species and some of these include; barred long-tailed cuckoo,archer’s robin-chat,dusky turtle dove, mountain masked apalis,equatorial akalat,rwenzoribatis, kivu ground thrush, strip-breasted tit, grauer’s warbler,white-starred robin, dusky long-tailed cuckoo, handsome francolin, red-throated alethe, montane oriole, doherty’s bush-shrike, blue-headed sunbird, regal sunbird,dusky crimsonwing and yellow-eyed black flycatcher. Etc.
Murchison Falls, Delta Birding Tours
This is the largest national park in Uganda and it covers 4,000 km2 of land and harbors over 76 mammal species and 451 bird species. The park is located in north-western Uganda and it has many bird species including; shoebill,dark chanting-goshawk, martial eagle, white-faced whistling duck, hugli’s francolin, rock pratincole, pennant-winged nightjar, black-billed wood-dove, osprey, secretary bird, yellow-billed stork,malachite kingfisher, swallow-tailed bee-eater, white-browed sparrow weaver, red-winged grey warbler, double-toothed barbet, speckle-fronted weaver, vaseline masked weaver, saddle-billed stork, grey-crowned crane, northerncrombec, black-headed gondola, bar-breasted fire finch, red-throated bee-eater, blue-naped moosebird, piapiac, giant kingfisher, blue-naped moosebird, long tailed nightjar, sulphur-breasted bush shrike, white-rumped seedeater,african darter,standard-winged nightjar, spur-winger geese,black-headed plover,abyssinian ground hornbill, northern carmine bee-eater, and beautiful sunbird. Etc.
Nile River Birding in Jinja
This area is also a great birding destination and is along the mighty river Nile which is the longest river in the world. Birding along the Nile is carried out with the boat cruise which moves around as you enjoy different species of birds. The area around the Nile River in Jinja has over 60 bird species which can be sighted by the birders. The explorers who come to Jinja can engage in many other activities besides the major interest including bungee jumping, horse-riding, white-water rafting, kayaking, quod biking and many more. Therefore, the main bird species here include; giant kingfisher, green-backed herons, African open-billed storks, rock pratencols, and the great blue turacos. Etc.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Birding in queen Elizabeth National Park is done in many different sections of the park and each spot has got different bird species. The sections include; Kasenyi area with over 60 bird species, the Mbeya peninsula which has over 70 species of birds, Katunguru bridge area, lake Kikorongo, the Ishasha sector, Katwe area and the Maramagambo forest. The park in total has got over 600 bird species and some of these include; hooded vulture, Rey kestrel, African wattled plover, black-bellied bustard, black-lored babbler, white-tailed lark, black-crowned chagra, slender-tailed nightjar, blue-napedmousebird, pygmy kingfisher, Scarlet-chested sunbird, black-headed gonolek, slender-billed weaver, martins, African emerald cuckoo, red-throated wryneck, blue-shouldered robin-chat, barbets, brown illadopsis, chestnut wattle-eye, yellowbill, common greenshank, red-capped lark, little stint, lesser black-backed gull, avocet, broad-tailed warbler, Montagu’s harrier,croaking cisticola and many more. Apart from birding, the park offers many other tourist activities including; game drives, boat cruises, chimpanzee trekking, salt mining and many more.
Semuliiki National Park
This park covers an area of about 220 km2 and harbors over 400 species of birds with nine species of horn bill making it one of the best birding destinations in Uganda. Semuliki National Park is situated near the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The major bird species found here include; western bronze-aped pigeon, red-billed dwarf hornbill, Xavier’s greenbul, black dwarf hornbill, black-casqued wattled hornbill, white-crested hornbill, fire-crested alethe, northern bearded scrub robin, leaf-love, crested malimbe, maxwell’s black weaver, green-tailed bristle bill, blue-headed crested-flycatcher, red-bellied malimbe, red-rumpedtinkerbird, yellow-throated nicator, spot-breasted ibis and many more which really meet the explorer’s demand.
The Royal Mile
The Royal mile is about 793km2 and is situated in Budongo forest near the mighty Murchison falls National Park. This is a superb birding destination with over 250 bird species which are both central and west African species. The main bird species got here include; the blue-breasted kingfisher, chocolate-backed kingfisher, spotted greenbul, blue-throated roller, fire-crested alethe, rufous-crowned elemomela, white-thighed hornbill,blue-shouldered robin-chat, piping hornbill, sabine’s spinetail, hairy-breasted barbet, red-capped robin-chat, black-capped apalis, lemon-bellied crombec, Rufous, yellow-crested woodpecker,dwarf kingfisher,African crowned eagle, grey-headed sunbird, and yellow-billed barbet. Etc. Making it the best kingdom for bird watchers to enjoy.
Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary
This sanctuary started in 1997 to protect the rhinos in Uganda. It also harbors a variety of bird species including the shoebill stork. The other bird species include; the African black crake, African fish eagle, African grey hornbill, African golden oriole, African darter, African broad bill, African Golden-breasted bunting, African jacana, abdim’s stork, African marsh harrier, barn swallow, bat hawk, African morning dove, African pied wagtail, African pygmy kingfisher, black and white manikin, black-crowned waxbill, black-headed gonolek, and many more that can be spotted.
Birding in Uganda is an adventurous activity that can be done in any of the birding spots noted. Birders are always kindly urged to book with the tour operators here in Uganda to help organize your lifetime birding experience. You are also advised 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.
Birding Within Bwindi, Uganda Bird Watching
The diverse habitats in Uganda’s most ancient forest imply that it is the perfect habitat for a diversity of bird species, with about 350 different species recorded, with 23 endemics (which is 90% of the Albertine rift endemics) like the blue-headed sunbird plus the short-tailed warbler in addition to 7 IUCN red data listed bird species. Simple to spot is the red-headed bluebill, African emerald cuckoo, African blue plus white-tailed blue flycatchers, and the common bulbul.
Birding occurs along the major trail – the Buhoma waterfall trail as well as along the Bamboo-zone plus the Mubwindi swamp trail found in Ruhija.
Birding Safari Packages
Bwindi is considered too to be the best bird-watchers paradise, with about 347 bird species, with ten of the twenty-six globally threatened species within Uganda, 5 of which are in danger. The Bwindi has 24 of the total 25 Albertine rift endemic bird species in Uganda and some have partial distributions in other places in their range, like Shelley’s crimson-wing, African green broadbill plus Chapin’s flycatcher. Bwindi also holds over 76 of the 144 guinea –Congo-forest biome bird species that are found in Uganda, majorly seen in the northern area. The area also qualifies for the Afro-tropical-highland biome bird species with about 68 of the total 86, as well as for the Lake Victoria biome with 4 of the 12 species. The park is also blessed with about 90% of the Albertine rift endemics, not possible to spot it in other areas of east Africa plus 7 IUCN red-data listed bird species. A skilled birder-watcher can really identify more than 100 species in just a single day. Ruhiija is also recommended of recent among the highlights of every trip done in Uganda with outstanding birding within the spectacular environs. Birds are in abundance and it’s very easy to spot; several species connect in assorted feeding flocks which are active all through the day. Starting early offers the finest opportunity of finding the remarkable handsome francolin, white-tailed crested flycatcher, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Rwenzori batis, western green tinkerbird, red-faced woodland warbler, mountain plus yellow-streaked greenbuls as well as the mountain marked plus chestnut-throated analyses among many others.
10 Facts for Bird watching in Uganda
Uganda is known to be Africa’s leading birding destination with over 1000 species recorded. A number of these birds survive only in the tropical forests, many with uncommon sightings that are said to be “mythological.” It is also assumed that several birds that live in secluded areas in Uganda may barely be classified hitherto. Here is a list of the top 10 bird species that a lot of birders pick interest in while on their birding tour in Uganda.
This kind of bird is one of the few bird species sighted in Uganda. The shoebill stork when compared to the other birds, is one of the slowest of all, it is a large bird with a whale head and is commonly found in marshy areas that are wide and dense with fresh water. Being one of the most wanted and searched birds in Africa at large, you can identify them by their grey feathered color for the adults and the little juveniles are a bit browner.
The Green-Breasted Pitta.
Like most other birds, this Green-breasted pitta can be found in the soggy lowlands in the sub-tropical forests. It is also one of the liked most by the birders despite being difficult to find. You can tell it from its throat which is encircled with a black line and its breast which is green in color. Finding one is one of the best encounters a birder can get while on his birding trip in Uganda.
The African Green Broadbill.
This African green broadbill is at times known as the Grauer’s broadbill and is among the big five bird kinds in Africa that are in high demand by birders however, they are hard to pin down. It can be found and is very common in the rift valley in the Albertine region and lives mostly in the sub-tropical forests. You can identify it from the light green shade, the blue throat with a small bill. It is also an endangered species globally.
The Great Blue Turaco.
These birds are one of the large fine-looking ones that can be found in Uganda. A reason why they are hunted it’s because of their meat and feathers. They are also poor at flying and thus end up soaring for shorter distances. These birds can be got anywhere from the Savannah and sultry areas to the montane forests and in the canopies among others.
Shelley’s Crimson Wing.
These kinds of birds are found in a narrow part of the Albertine rift valley region. Neither many birders nor other people actually get to see this type of bird because it is also a rare species. You can tell them both from their bills that are bright red and to be specific, the females can be told apart from their olive heads and red mantle while the males are seen from their backs, face, and crown all covered in bright red.
The Standard-Winged Nightjar.
This one uses its brown mottled plumage to keep them hidden during the daytime and also when it is at rest. They often soar at sundown and late in the evenings. Their feathers can really stretch to 38cm long however it is not guaranteed that one can see them this way since it only happens for a short period of time. The standard-winged nightjar is usually identified with the flying foxes (fruit bats).
The Short-Tailed Warbler.
The short-tailed warbler is sometimes known as Neumann’s warbler. It is a little bird having a large head with a unique striped outline. It also has a very short tail. You can find it mainly in the forest vegetation since its home is mostly in the sub-tropical areas. It also has a broad arch of hair above each eye that is greyish-brown and while the front of its eye is a dull green and white design.
The Doherty’s Bushshrike.
This kind of bird is so often heard but rare to be seen. It is one that silently moves in the thick underbrush. You can tell it from its outstanding colors –mostly for the adults, which are also green and have a cheerful red throat and forehead. They also have a light yellow and lemon-like middle with a black tail and broad black-breasted band. The younger birds have a pale green color and striped green and yellow underparts.
The Bar-Tailed Trogon.
These kinds of bird species are found in forests and can be distinguished by their yellow feet and bill. Also, common to the other trogons, it has a far-reaching long tail. Females can be identified by their brown heads and light cinnamon throat and breast while the males on the other hand can be told apart from their 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 its upper breast.
The Black-breasted Barbet.
These are commonly solitary birds that classically shell in tree openings. They feed on a number of things like fruit and insects like beetles, centipedes, and dragonflies among others. Sometimes they have frogs, geckos, and lizards for food. The female lays about 2 to 4 eggs and both birds then incubate them for a period of 13-15 days. You can tell them from their big heads and a hefty bill that is fringed with hackles.
Where To Go Birding.
Where in Uganda, one can never miss out to spot places available for birders to go on a birding trip. However, some birds can only be found in some specific areas so therefore, guides are always available to show which birds and where to spot them. In Uganda, the places below are the right destinations for birders who come to Uganda for birding activities and other adventures as well;
This swampy area is only about an hour’s drive away from the city center. It is also found at the edge of Lake Victoria and for birders that would love to see the birds in this area, wooden boats, and or canoes to find these birds. This island is commonly known for the shoe-bill stork that is said to keep hidden in the water weeds while waiting for the fish before they can actually get back into the deeper waters. Shoe-bills have their homes in papyrus and will at times live on land however, the land has to oversee the waters. There are also other bird species that are found in this area and they include the pied kingfishers, the blue-breasted bee-eaters, the African and lesser Jacanas, and the African pygmy goose. Also, it is important to note that the wooden boats can only be able to carry 3 persons while on the birding adventure.
The Queen Elizabeth National Park.
This park is recorded to be home to over 600 bird species, a figure that is said to be too great for an area as small as it is. In the park, there are a variety of birds that range from the forest and woodland dwellers to the 54 raptor species, the water birds and not forgetting those that migrated from other areas. For the explorer who wants to enjoy birding in the queen Elizabeth National Park, there are places that you shouldn’t miss out on and these include the Maramagambo forest, the Kazinga channel, the Mweya peninsula, the Kasenyi area, the Katunguru bridge area, Lake Kikorongo, and the Ishasha sector. While here, be sure to see main species like the African broadbill, the pink-backed pelican, the African skimmer, the shoebill, the chapin’s flycatcher, the papyrus canary, the white-tailed lark, the bar-tailed godwit, the black-rumped button-quail, the martial eagle, the white-winged warbler and the lesser and greater flamingo among many others.
Semuliki National Park.
This park provides one of the best forest birding experiences in Uganda and in Africa at large. It has exceptional watching points at Ntandi and Sempaya and another around the river Kirumia area. For birders that would love to have a good view of the water birds, forest walks are recommended. Birds that one can get a chance to see while at the Semuliki national park include the yellow-throated nicator, the white-crested hornbill, the great blue and ross’s turacos, the piping hornbill, the red-billed dwarf hornbill, and the shoebill stork which is said to be seen at nearby billets on the lake Albert.
Lake Mburo National Park.
There are various birding spots that are found in this park that can give birders perfect views of the birds. These include the marshy areas of Miriti and warukiri and then the camp Rwonyo. There are also idyllically positioned viewing stages in the Miriti valley at the salt lick and also in the forest of Rubanga. Species that can be found in these areas include the grey crowned crane, the bare-faced go-away bird, the Rufous-bellied heron, the white-headed barbet, the common scimitarbill, the bateleur, the coqui francolin, the brown parrot, the green wood-hoopoe, the black-bellied bustard, the Nubian woodpecker, the brown-chested lapwing, the red-faced barbet, the emerald-spotted wood-dove, the long-tailed cisticola, the red-headed lovebird, the white-winged tit and finfoot, the ross’s turaco, the yellow-breasted apalis and among many others the red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike and also the rare red-faced barbet can only be seen in the lake Mburo national park and one can too visit places like the Rubanga forest on foot or through an automobile.
The Murchison Falls National Park.
Birders interested in watching birds in this area are likely to know that the shoebill is the major bird attraction that many come to see. However, those with an interest in seeing it should consider doing so in the dry seasons of January all through to march. Also, another beauty about birding in this area is whether one chooses to go bird watching on a launch trip or even a game drive, all will have the chance to see the diverse bird kinds some of which include the Albertine rift endemics, the water birds and the Savannah Forest birds. Nearby the river, there are more forests and undergrowth and, in this area, you can get the opportunity to see the common bird kinds like the woodpeckers, the warblers, the red-throated and swallow-tailed bee-eaters on the cliffs of Nyamusika, the Malachite kingfishers, the cuckoos, the Crombecs, the Grey heron, the shrikes, the Hamerkop, the Hornbills, the Francolin and the usual ducks, stilts, geese and plovers. Lastly, there are other shared species that are found in the grasslands and these include the black-bellied bustards, the marabou storks, the widow birds, and the Abyssinian ground hornbill among many others.
This destination is positioned at the shores of Lake Victoria and is known and said to be the famous site for birding in Uganda. It is also known for being one of the major rest points where birds come to have a breakthrough on their journey. It is an extraordinary bird viewing site in the Lake Victoria basin. The bay is home not only to thousands but millions of all kinds of pale-arctic migrant and indigenous birds. It is a habitat for more than 200 bird species, of these 26 are migratory. These include the African pygmy kingfisher and the Holub’s golden weaver among those said to be endangered, the African green pigeon, the lead-colored flycatcher, the sooty chat, the tropical boubou, the brown-backed scrub robins, the whiskered tern and the road-billed roller to mention but a few. Also, the white-winged black tern birds are over 52%in this area, a factor that contributes to the bay being a birding paradise.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Bwindi is one of the few parks that offer the best birding safaris in Uganda and Africa at large. It has recorded over 350 species of birds and 14 of them are not got elsewhere in the country besides Bwindi. The main viewing points in this area where birders can catch the best sight of these amazing creatures are the bamboo zone, the Mubwindi swamp trail, and also along the waterfall trail in Buhoma. There are also key species that one can never fail to miss out on, some are migrants and out of all these 23 are endemic to the Albertine rift valley region. They include the handsome francolin, the Rwenzori nightjar, the black bee-eater, the African wood owl, the bar-tailed trogon, the dwarf honey guide, the grey cuckoo-shrike, the fine-banded woodpecker, the western green tinkerbird, the African green broadbill, the white-bellied robin chat, the yellow-streaked greenbul, the archer’s robin chat, the shelly’s greenbul, and the red-throated athlete and then more others.
Kibale Forest National Park.
Kibale national park neighbors the Bigodi wetland sanctuary a small distance away from the park. This sanctuary is a habitat to over 139 species of birds that birders get to see while on directed tours end to end of the observing platforms and boardwalks. Here birding tours begin at exactly 7 am in Kanyanchu. Be sure to see plenty of bird species like the yellow-billed barbet, the brown-backed scrub robin, the black and white shrike flycatcher, the white-spotted flufftail, the brown-throated wattle-eye, the hairy-breasted barbet, the superb sunbird, the black-crowned waxbill, the yellow-spotted barbet, the western nicator, the grey-winged robin chat, the brown-crowned Tchagra, the white-tailed ant thrush, the bocage’s bush shrike, the white-breasted negrofinch and the black bishop to mention but a few. Also be sure to see the rarest of these species that including the papyrus canary, the white-winged warbler, the papyrus gonolek, and the white-collared olive back.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Besides the fact that the Mgahinga national park is known famously for Gorilla trekking, it is also home to over 180 species of birds inclusive of the Albertine rift region endemics which give birders tremendous watching opportunities. Perfect viewing points in this park are along the community and farm trail, the gorge trail, and the bamboo trail. Species that can be got here include the brown woodland warbler, the Kivu ground thrush, the stripe-breasted tit, the cinnamon bracken warbler, the brown-crowned Tchagra, the banded Prinia, the white-starred robin, the greater double collared and scarlet-tufted sunbirds, the Rwenzori batis, the black-headed waxbill, the archer’s robin chat, the western green tinkerbird, the olive pigeon, the streaky seed-eater, the blue-headed sunbird, the dusky turtle dove, the cape robin and last but not least the beautiful Rwenzori turaco.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park.
These Rwenzori mountains are home to closely 217 species of birds known to exist here. Of these, 19 are known to be the endemics of the Albertine rift valley region and for a birder to view not only a partial but perfect sight of these winged creatures, they are to do so while on a hike into the forest. Some of the bird species you will most likely see here are the golden-winged and blue-headed sunbird, the Rwenzori turaco, the white-starred robin, the long-eared owl, the slender-billed starling, the archer’s robin chat, the cinnamon-chested bee-eater, the laden’s bush shrike, the swifts, the bearded vultures and the black eagles among countless others. 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. Uganda is also blessed with the rare shoebill stork which can be sighted in the mighty Murchison falls national park and Uganda is blessed with many birding spots where bird lovers can enjoy their time and look out for these beautiful species.