Birding in Uganda is arguably one of the most thrilling Uganda Safari activity and it would be so unfair to bird watching enthusiasts not to write a blogpost about the best birding spots in Uganda.
Famously named “The Pearl of Africa”, Uganda has earned its spot as one of the most attractive countries in Africa and an amazing destination for bird lovers because of the variety of bird species recorded within its borders plus the easy access to several bird-rich habitats it offers.
Uganda is home to over 1,050 bird species and all can be found across a range of safari habitats from forests, swamps, agricultural lands, lakes and savannah plains.
Uganda is crossed by the Equator and the Albertine Rift valley in the west of the country which clearly well places the best birding spots in its boundaries attracting a massive variety of bird species. Birds in Uganda are quite easily visible to bird watchers considering the easy access to their habitats that include: semi-arid dessert, rich savannah, lowland, montane rain-forests, vast wetlands, volcanoes, an Afro-alpine zone and altitude that ranges from 650 to 5000m.
Why choose Birding in Uganda ?
One great tip I use to go to the best birding spots and watch birds in Uganda and at the same time enjoy a Uganda savannah safari or jungle safari without spending an extra bulk of cash – a combined chimpanzee safari, gorilla trekking and wildlife savannah safari trail will take you to all the best birding spots in Uganda. Just make sure you ask your guide not to rush it, stop for a few minutes and pull out your camera or binoculars and catch that view.
Although averagely small, Uganda has over 1040 recorded species of birds and is home to some of the most sought after birds on the African continent including the ancient pre-historic looking shoe-bill stock and is a popular bird migration destination to other birds from all over the world. Uganda’s special foreign birds are West African and Congolese forest birds which would otherwise be very hard to view in those countries since their tourism sectors are not well established.
Birding spots in and around Kampala include; Entebbe, Mabira Rainforest and Mabamba Swamp. Mabamba wetlands swamp has some of the most sought after exotic birds such as the shoebill stork.
Bwindi impenetrable forest also a UNESCO World Heritage site is one of Uganda’s more popular birding spot and is usually referred to as Africa’s number one bird watching site along with Murchison Falls National Park as ninth among the top 10 birding destinations in Africa.
Uganda offers a wide range of birds in for the enthusiasts, with water and forest birds in Entebbe, water and acacia associated birds in Lake Mburo, over 600 species are recorded in Queen Elizabeth, over 50 raptors recorded in Kidepo and Murchison Falls as the best place in East Africa to see the Papyrus-associated shoe-bill.While on a birding safari in Uganda, you will enjoy views of wildlife as well, while in Bwindi Impenetrable forest you might catch a glimpse of a gorilla or chimpanzee.
Though Uganda is known for gorilla trekking, chimpanzee tracking, mountain climbing, white water rafting and so much more, Birding in Uganda is a splendid activity for birding enthusiasts and you will be amazed at the variety it has to offer you.
Some of the Species viewed while Birding in Uganda
Birding in Uganda can be done in all the national parks as they all boast an impressive bird life with a variety of species even in the smallest and remotest parks.The best 10 most preferred bird species inside Uganda include; Nahans francolin, Brown chested pullover, Karamoja Apalis, African green Broadbill, Purcell’s illadopsis, Shoe bill stork, Black bee eater, Ruwenzori turaco, Green-breasted pitta and Red fronted anti pecker Ostrich(the World’s largest bird restricted only to Kidepo Valley National Park).
Other bird species that are found in Uganda include;
Grey crowned crane,Pelicans, African darter, Goliath heron, Hamerkop, Saddle billed stork, Marabou stork, Shoe-bill, Flamingos, African Fish Eagle, Africa Jacana, African grey parrot and Great blue turaco, Verreaux’s eagle-owl,Pennant/standard winged nightjars, Piacpiac, Red-throated bee-eater, Lilac-breasted roller, Hoopoe, Black and white casqued hornbill, For-tailed drongo, African Finfoot, Jackson’s francolin, Denhams bustard, African skimmer, Blue throated roller, Black bee eater, Forest/white headed wood hoope, African pied hornbill, Chocolate-backed kingfisher,Papyrus gonolek, Red headed blue bill Pied Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Ross’s turacco, Helmeted guinea fowl, Eastern grey plantain-eater, African emerald cuckoo, Coucals, Malachite Kingfisher,
This is just a handful of the birds species that can be viewed in Uganda.
Best Birding Spots in Uganda
Birding in Uganda is at its best in the rain forests of Western Uganda and its the country’s most important bird habitat though the most alluring forests in Uganda with localized species are Semliki, Budongo Forest, Kibale Forest and Bwindi Forest. Below are the destinations where you can enjoy a splendid birding expedition;
Mabamba Bay Wetland at Lake Victoria
ll, 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.
Bwindi‘s impenetrabThis is the best destination to catch a glimpse of a shoebill. Lake Victoria being a freshwater body in Africa,it is home to various water birds including; shoebile forest is home to rare bird species found here and it is easily accessible for birding alongside well-maintained birding trails in the forest. Bwindi is home to 350 species of birds, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics of which 14 are not recorded anywhere else in Uganda.You may catch a glimpse of: 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 the world’s strongest waterfalls formed as the Nile is forced through a 7-metre gorge,this park is Uganda’s oldest and largest and was named after the mighty falls.The park is home to over 450 bird species,the park has a variety of bird habitats including forests, swamps, riverine woodland, savannah and plains of acacia trees where you will enjoy views of the elusive shoebill, swamp flycatcher, goliath heron, abyssinian ground hornbill, northern red bishop, red-throated bee-eater, African quail finch, pied, malachite and giant kingfishers.Birding in this park can be done on a game drive, via a boat trip on the Nile or a nature walk in the park
With over 600 bird species, Queen Elizabeth Nationa park is a birdwatcher’s haven. you will view bird species including 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 and yellow-billed stork. Also look out for the flamingos at the salt lakes of Katwe and Bunyampaka, the birds here are easy to spot on a game drive and many birds will be spotted on your boat cruise onn the Kanziga Channel.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the southern part of Uganda, bordering Rwanda and DR Congo and is home to over 180 bird species including some of the spectacular Albertine Rift endemics. The park offers excellent bird viewing opportunities along the gorge trail, bamboo trail and farm/community trail. The bird species here 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.
Located in the Albertine Rift valley in western Uganda, Semuliki National Park is home to 441 species in its riverine, forest and grasslands avian habitats. 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, swamp palm bulbul and Guinea-Congo biome species in its lowland forest
With over 375 bird species, Kibale Forest is a prime birding spot due to its varied habitat and dense vegetation . This park has six endemic species in the Albertine Rift area and the number one sought after bird in this Forest- the green-breasted pitta. Other bird species,you will catch a glimpse of 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.
These mountains lie in western Uganda with snow-capped peaks,it’s highest point reaches 5,110m. The Rwenzori Mountains are home to over 177 bird species, including 19 Albertine Rift endemics.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.
Lake Mburo National Park is home to 315 bird species and birding is one of the major activities in this park with the best spots for birding near the swamps at Warukiri and Rwonyo. The species you will catch a glimpse of 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. While on the boat cruise you will view the rare African finfoot, shoebill, African fish eagle, and malachite and pied kingfishers.
Safari: 3 Days Lake Mburo Wildlife Tour
Budongo Forest lies at the edge of the Albertine Rift valley and it consists of two main sections: Kaniyo Pabidi in Murchison Falls National Park, the Royal Mile and Busingiro areas found south of the park. The park is home to over 350 bird species, including the most sought-after birds- 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.
You will have your best experience Birding in Uganda and finding the best birding spot when Off Road Uganda Safaris organizes a memorable and an unforgettable Birding safari for you that will be tailor-made to your preferences with guidance from our birding consultant so you can enjoy a unique and authentic experience.