Birding In Uganda
A safari to Uganda offers a variety of activities a visitor can take part in and birding is one of them. Uganda is considered to be one of the best spots for birding in Africa giving you a glimpse to the rare bird species and making your journey memorable.
Unlike other activities like game viewing, gorilla trekking, mention them, birding can be done anywhere in the country however there are specific and gazetted places that were put in place to protect a variety of these species. Regardless, the activity is the easiest consider the fact that you don’t have to be on the road for long hours.
Uganda hosts over 1066 bird species. To make sure you do get a memorable birding experience while in the country, the Uganda wildlife authority did gazette about 30 areas within the country to go and carry out this activity.
Popular bird species that can be found in the country include the shoebill stock, Fox’s weaver and the Rwenzori double-collared Sunbird that are endemic to the country.
Different factors contribute to the variety of bird species found in Uganda and these are;
Uganda is strategically located between the west African rain forests, east African savannah and south of the semi-arid areas of the north. Attracting birds from all the parts on the continent.
The other factor is that the country has a vast number of habitats to harbor different bird species like the wetlands, forests, freshwater lakes, savannah and more that will also offer these birds a space for bleeding.
If you do want to go birding these are the top destinations in Uganda
Mabamba bay wetland swamp
Located on Lake Victoria, Mabamba is considered swamp is considered to be among the best spots in Uganda where you will be able to see the popular shoebill stock. Other bird species that you will able to see here include the black-billed turaco, grey parrot, woodland wabler, dusky long-tailed cuckoo, blue-shouldered robin-chat, Lemon dove, Fire-crested Althea, Carruther’s cisticola, papyrus gonolek, Viellot’s weaver, Sooty Boubou, White-spotted Fluff tail and many others.
Bwindi impenetrable rain forest
Known to be home to almost half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas, Bwindi impenetrable national is the number one top destinations in Africa for birding hosting over 350 species of birds with 23 species endemics to the Albertine rift valley and 14 not found anywhere else within Uganda. Some of the bird species you will see here include; Hairy-breasted Barbet, Montane Oriole, Forest Robin, Narina’s Trogon, Grey-throated Barbet, white-bellied robin-chat, equatorial akalat, willcock’s honeyguide, black bee-eater, black sparrowhawk, Petit’s cuckooshrike, the rare tiny sunbird, the dapper brown-capped weaver, Kandt’s and black-crowned bills, wax yellow-eyed black flycatcher, Kiev gerund thrush and many others.
Budongo forest is one of the other destinations for birding. The forest found within the boundaries of Murchison falls national park is known to be a chimpanzee sanctuary but also hosts a variety of bird species which are estimated to be over 360 species. Birds you can expect to find here include the Yellow- potted Barbet, Banded Snake-eagle, Cameroon Sombre Green bull, Lemon-bellied Crombec, the fleeting Cassin’s spinetail, the dainty chestnut-capped flycatcher, white-thighed hornbill, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Yellow-billed Barbet, Brown Twin sport, Slender-billed green bull, Ituri batis, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Black Bishop, Black-bellied Fire finch, Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Fire-crested Alethe and more others.
Bigodi bird sanctuary
Found within Kibale national park, Bigodi wetland sanctuary also acts as a haven to numerous species of birds that include: Blue-breasted Kingfisher, white-spotted flufftail, Scaly-throated-Honey guide, Bocage’s bush shrike, the White spotted crake, speckle-breasted woodpecker, white-winged swamp-warbler, Black-faced Rufus Warbler and many other bird species.
Apart from Bigodi bird sanctuary, there other areas within Kibale national park where different bird species can be located with 6 of the Albertine rift endemics also here. Examples of birds that you will be able to find here include the green-breasted pitta, brown and scaly-breasted illadopses, collared and black-capped apalis, afep and white-naped pigeons, hulking great blue turaco, African finfoot, crowned eagle, blue-throated roller, red-chested owlet, yellow-spotted and yellow-billed barbets, Toro olive greenbuls, red-chested owlet and many more.
Lake Mburo national park
This is yet another perfect birding site in Uganda. The park hosts over 320 bird species that live in different habitats of savannah, dry hill lands, lake, wetlands, forests. Bird species found here include the barefaced go-away bird, papyrus gonolek, papyrus canary, blue-napped mousebird, brown parrot, Nubian woodpecker, red-faced barbet, black-billed barbet and more.
Its also in this park that you will be able to spot different localized species of birds that can’t be seen anywhere else in Uganda like the Tabora cisticola, spot-flanked barbet, red-faced barbet, grey penduline tit and the golden-tailed woodpecker.
In the swampy areas of lake Mburo popular birds that you will be able to spot include; African water rail and white-backed night-heron, giant kingfishers, waterside thickets, papyrus gonolek, white-winged warbler, papyrus gonolek and white-winged warble. Night game drives will give you an opportunity to spot the marsh owl, Verreaux’s eagle owl, African scops owl and swamp pennant-winged nightjars
Semiliki national park.
Found in the western part of Uganda, Semiliki national park is among the top birding destination for very many birders across the world. The has a variety of bird species that are estimated to be over 440 living within the dense forests, grasslands, along the river and other habitats. This park hosts different bird species from the central and western Africa hence the only place in East Africa where you can locate such species. Birds found here include: yellow-throated nicator, white-crested hornbill, yellow-throated cuckoo, African piculet, Nkulengu rail, lyre-tailed honeyguide, swamp palm bulbul, Congo serpent-eagle, piping hornbill, orange weaver, capuchin babbler, Maxwell’s black weaver, red-billed dwarf hornbill and more.
Mgahinga national park
Mgahinga national park found in the south western part of Uganda hosts over 110 species of birds with some endemic to the Albertine rift. Forest birds prefer this place because it’s covered with a dense tropical rainforest which havens most of these species. To have the best birding experience, the bamboo, gorge and farm/community trails will give a good spot to majority of them.
Species found here include: dusky crimsonwing, Rwenzori nightjar, black-headed waxbill, western green tinkerbird, handsome francolin, blue-headed coucal, stripe-breasted tit, Archer’s robin chat, Kivu ground thrush, red-throated alethe and Rwenzori batis.
Queen Elizabeth national park
Over 600 species of birds have been documented in Queen Elizabeth national park and this is attributed to a variety of habitats available within the park boundaries. The habitats include the savannah woodland, wetlands, Lakes, and dense forests. Birds you can find in this place include: black-headed gonolek, grey crowned-crane, hamerkop, flocks of African skimmer, black-and-white shrike-flycatcher, moustached grass warbler, black-backed gulls, hamerkop, sooty chat, northern black flycatcher, gull-billed tern, African jacana, flappet lark, red-chested sunbird, African skimmer, African crake, African jacana among others.
Murchison national park
Its Uganda’s oldest and largest national park but still it happens to be one of the best places/ parks birders can look out for. Murchison hosts over 440 species given the fact that it has numerous habitats of savannah, riverline, acacia plains, forests, swamps and more.
Species to look out for while on a safari to Murchison falls national park include; double-toothed barbe, Abyssinian ground-hornbill, bar-breasted firefinch, shoebill stork, Senegal lapwing, red-throated bee-eater, Puvel’s illadopsis, brown babbler, Shelley’s rufous sparrow, black-headed batis, standard-winged nightjar, buff-bellied warbler, Heuglin’s francolin, piapiac, greyish eagle-owl, ed-throated bee-eater, white-crested turaco and more. These bird species can be seen during nature walks, boat cruise, and game drives both carried out during day and night.
Rwenzori mountains national park.
It might be among the least visited parks in Uganda but Rwenzori national park offers visitors with a memorable birding experience. Over 220 bird species, 19 of which are Albertine rift endemics live within the boundaries of this park in the dense forests, open montane grassland, glacier, peatbogs and snowfield habitats.
Bird species to see while in Rwenzori mountains national park include; Archers’ robin-chat, bearded vulture, Rwenzori turaco, long-eared owl, white-starred robin, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Lagden’s bush-shrike, blue-headed and golden-winged sunbird, slender-billed starling and many more.
Other places in Uganda to carry out birding from include: Lutembe bay wetland, the Entebbe peninsula, Kidepo valley national park, Mpanga Forest Reserve and Mabira Forest Reserve.
Cost of birding permits
Birding is one of the many activities that visitors on safari to Uganda always look out for. To get to experience birding at its finest, you will need a guide to accompany you into different habitats where they live.
This activity come at a cost and visitors are required to get birding permits in order to see these species. The permits go for: foreign nonresidents $30 per person, foreign residents $30 per person and 10,000ugx per person for east African citizens.
Tourists are always advised to book their birding permits on time and at Vizuri Africa Safaris we will definitely do that for you but at an affordable commission to cover administrative costs.
Best time to go for birding in Uganda
Birding in Uganda is generally a year-round success considering the fact that majority of the bird species are residents.
Uganda has two seasons i.e. the wet and dry season. During the wet season the trails within parks are muddy and slippery which makes hikes to forests, and other bird habitats quite hard. During the dry season the country does receive less rain with trails within parks less slippery and dry hence the best time to carry out birding being the dry season. This period happens between the months of June to September and December to February.
In Uganda there are variety of activities you can accompany with your birding safari. You can choose to go for gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national, chimpanzee tracking in Kibale national park, visiting queen Elizabeth national park for the popular tree climbing lions or even heading to Murchison falls national park to have a glimpse of the worlds most powerful waterfall.