Birding in Uganda

Uganda is a home to over 1050 bird species, which are found in various habitats ranging from forests, swamps and agricultural lands, to lakes and savannahs. Uganda is crossed by the equator, and the Albertine Rift valley located in the western region toward the Legendary Mountains of the moon.

Mabamba Bay Wetland is an interesting place to catch a glimpse of a shoebill. Mabamba is located on Lake Victoria, which is the largest freshwater lake in the whole word.

While on your birding excursion to mabamba swampy bay, Look out for the 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.

Kibale Forest has 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 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.

The Rwenzori Mountains is a home to over 177 bird species, with 19 Albertine Rift endemics. The mountains lie in western Uganda, with snow-capped peaks whose highest peak margarita reaches up to5110m. Bird watching is done when hiking in the forest zone and there are various species to be spotted in Ruwenzori 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.

Birding is one of the major activities done in Lake Mburo National Park, here the best spots for birding are near the swamps at Warukiri and Rwoyo. 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-napped 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 can have a chance to sightsee African fish eagle, and malachite and pied kingfishers while on a boat safari in Lake Mburo.

Budongo Forest has two main sections for birding– Kaniyo Pabidi found in Murchison Falls National Park, the Royal Mile and Busingiro areas found in the south of the park. It lies at the edge of the Albertine Rift valley, 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 spine tail, chestnut-capped flycatcher, Ituri batis, Nahan’s francolin, black-collared lovebird, brown twinspot, chocolate-backed, blue-breasted and African dwarf kingfishers.

Uganda is the most attractive country in Africa to bird watching tour and remarkable avian diversity-1,000 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 savannah, the West African rainforest and the semi-desert of the north.

Bwindi‘s impenetrable forest is ranked as Africa’s best birding spot by Africa Bird Club, it harbours rare bird species crediting to the characteristics that make the a world heritage site. It is easily accessible for birding with maintained birding trails in the forest.

Bwindi is a home to approximately 350 species of birds, including 23 of the 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.

Murchison Falls is Uganda’s largest and oldest protected area, named after the mighty Murchison Falls – the world’s strongest waterfalls formed as the Nile is and forces itself through a narrow gorge of 8m. The park is home to over 450 bird species and bird can be seen on a game drive, boat trip (on the Nile) and nature walk. Common birds in the park are: shoebill, swamp flycatcher, goliath heron, abyssinian ground hornbill, northern red bishop, red-throated bee-eater, African quail finch, pied, malachite and giant kingfishers.

Queen Elizabeth National Park has over 600 bird species here are relatively easy to spot, and you can expect to take great photos as you explore the park.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 is home to about 180 bird species with some of the spectacular Albertine Rift endemics. It is located in the southern part of Uganda, bordering Rwanda and DR Congo. 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 tinker bird, Cape robin, white-starred robin, brown woodland warbler, stripe-breasted tit, brown-crowned tchagra and scarlet-tufted, greater double-collared sunbirds.

Semuliki National Park, located in western Uganda in the Albertine Rift valley, has a record 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.

Uganda is arguably the most attractive country in Africa to bird watchers ( tour), not only to because of the unusually number of species recorded within its borders, but also because it offers easy access to several bird-rich habitats that are difficult to reach elsewhere. 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.

The key to Uganda’s diversity is its variety of habitats: arid semi-dessert, rich savannahs, lowland and montane rainforests, vast wetlands, volcanoes and an Afro-alpine zone. Uganda covers an altitude from 650 to 5000m. Analytical of Uganda’s intermediary position is the fact that only one bird is endemic to the country, the rather ordinary Fox’s weaver. However, if you take only East Africa into consideration, then approximately 150 bird species (more than 10% of the regional checklists) are found only in Uganda. This list includes seven of the 20 horn-bill species recorded in the region, five out of 14 honey guides, seven out of 20 hornbill species recorded in the region, five out of 20 bush family as well as 13 members of the thrush family, 11 warblers, ten flycatchers, eight sun birds, eight weavers, eight finches, four tinker birds, four pigeons, 3 kingfishers, 3 sparrow hawks, 3 cuckoos and 3 nightjars.

Most of these Uganda’s specials are West African and Congolese forest birds that should be very difficult to see elsewhere. The rain forests of Western Uganda must be seen as the country’s most important bird haven.

Rare birds and their unique sites Ostrich is the World’s largest bird and it’s restricted to Kidepo Valley National Park and it has over 50 raptors recorded

Pelicans are water birds commonly found in Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park identified on afternoon or morning launch trip. Flamingos, astonishing and sociable pink-white algae eaters commonly seen in large concentrations in Katwe and Flamingo,s unique home.

Goliath heron and shoebill commonly seen during boat cruise in Murchison Falls National Park.

Hammerkop is a medium sized water bird seen on the Mweya Peninsula in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Marabou stork is a Macabre carrion-eating stork commonly seen in rural and urban Environments especially in Kampala’s dirty areas/slam

Shoebill, Unmistakable large grey swamp-dweller and is the main motivating factor behind many ornithological tours to Uganda. They are mainly seen in Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Mabamba Swamp and in Murchison falls.