Bird Watching in Uganda
Uganda is an equatorial country of astonishing contrasts, no other area in Africa can match Uganda’s amazing diversity of habitats, and this richness is reflected in its incredible bird list of over 1,061 species, making 50% of Africa’s bird species. Such a huge bird list is contained within a small territory of only 90041 square miles (about the size of Britain), hence one of the highest concentration of birds per square kilometers in Africa. Bird watching in Uganda rewards with so many bird sightings by covering just a small area or even birding for a small time period.
Amongst these are many highly sought-after birds, such as the unique Shoebill and the numerous endemics of the Albertine Rift Valley. The huge bird list is even more remarkable given the small size of the country making it, arguably, the richest African birding destination.
The incredible diversity of habitats that no other area in Africa can match is the reason Uganda harbors such a huge diversity of birds, and collects so many migrant birds during the year. Uganda lies in a unique position where she shares Africa’s major ecological zones that each has associated bird species, including a number that are range restricted.
Uganda’s Bird Watching Spots
Uganda has up to 34 Important Bird Areas (IBA) many of which have been developed for birding activities. The birding community in Uganda continues to identify a number of other bird-rich spots across the country and establishing birding trails there. At most of the spots there are local bird guides that have been well trained and can identify all the site’s resident species.
On a single successful bird watching safari in Uganda, you can spot upto 582 species in total and besides the incredible Shoebill, you get to see plenty of rare/uncommon species.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – where you’ll find the Ruwenzori Turaco, Archer’s Ground Robin and best of all, the rare Shelley’s Crimsonwing. You’ll be able to see the range-restricted Red-faced Barbet and Tabora Cisticola at Lake Mburo, also observed Brown-chested Lapwings.
Ruwenzori Turaco Ruwenzorornis johnstoni
Near Lake Bunyonyi – You can see both Papyrus Canary and Papyrus Yellow Warbler.
Highlights in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where many but the observation of 2 Grauer’s Broadbills along the Mubwindi Swamp trail stands out, as is the unexpected encounter of a family group of gorilla’s along the main trail at Buhoma.
Semliki National Paek – You can observed Long-tailed Hawk, Grant’s Bluebill and Lowland Sooty Boubou.
Highlight at Kibale Forest displaying Green-breasted Pitta and at Murchison Falls the Heuglin’s Francolin, Dusky Babbler and Puvel’s Illadopsis.
In Budongo Nahan’s Francolin, Ituri Batis and Uganda Woodland Warbler were our best observations.
Mabira Forest where you can have views of Forest Wood-Hoopoes and Weyn’s Weaver.
Memorable is also the observation of a pair of Ruaha Chat near Morole in South Uganda, which is apparently a new bird for the country.
In retrospect, you can plan to camp along the Kirumia Trail in Semliki N.P. for one night to increase your chances of observing some of the more difficult species of this area. If one has more time I would extend the trip with a visit to the area around Lake Bisini and a visit to the far north, Kidepo N.P. This would really be the ultimate trip to Uganda.
Ultimately, you can observe 27 – 31 possible endemics and of all those, the 4 are rare to very rare.
Albertine Rift Endemic Birds Possible in Uganda
- Handsome Francolin Francolinus nobilis
- Ruwenzori Turaco Ruwenzorornis johnstoni
- Albertine Owlet Rwanda – very rare
- Ruwenzori Nightjar Caprimulgus ruwenzori
- Dwarf Honeyguide Indicator meliphilus
- African Green (Grauer’s) Broadbill Pseudocalptomena graueri
- Archer’s Robin Chat Cossypha archeri
- Red-troated Alethe Alethe poliophrys
- Kivu Ground Thrush Zoothera tanganjicae
- Oberlander’s ground Thrush Zoothera oberlaenderi
- Chapin’s Flycatcher Muscicapa lendu
- Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher Melaeornis ardesiascus
- Red-faced Woodland Warbler Phylloscopus laetus
- Grauer’s Swamp Warbler Bradypterus graueri
- Mountain Masked Apalis Apalis binotata
- Ruwenzori Apalis Apalis ruwenzori
- Kungwe Apalis Apalis Rwanda
- Red-collared Mountain-Babbler Rwanda
- Grauer’s Warbler Graueria vittata
- Willard’s Sooty Boubou Laniarius
- Short-tailed (Neumann’s) Warbler Hemitesia neumanni
- Stripe-breasted Tit Malaniparus fasciiventer
- Ruwenzori Batis Batis diops
- Blue-headed Sunbird Cyanomitra alinae
- Ruwenzori Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris stuhlmanni
- Regal Sunbird Cinnyris regius
- Purple-breasted Sunbird Nectarinia purpureiventris
- Rockefellers’s Sunbird Rwanda – very rare
- Strange Weaver Ploceus alienus
- Dusky Crimsonwing Cryptospiza jacksoni
- Shelley’s Crimsonwing Cryptospiza shelleyi