The elegant experience! Uganda is a bird haven and a true birders paradise. Transitional to the West African rainforests and East African savannah, the country is the continent’s most complete bird watching destination, it hosts above 1060bird species a total that accounts to 73% of East Africa’s population, nearly half of Africa’s total population and 11% of the Global population.
The country’s prolific birdlife is attributed to its richness in biodiversity and vast landscape composed of rich eco-system.
Uganda is the smallest among the four African countries whose bird list hits the 1000 mark. The astonishing birdlife sprawls across a range of habitats that are both natural and semi as well as agro-ecosystems. These include; forests, swamps or marshes, agricultural fields, the rolling savanna plains, idyllic water bodies to mountain range/ highland areas.
The bracket list of Uganda’s bird species includes; threatened/ endangered species, restricted range endemics, common species as well as migratory species from Europe.
Uganda’s melting spots for bird watching that have attracted the attention of birders and Ornithologists/researchers over time include National Parks, Forest Reserves and wetlands among others. Specialist bird watching expeditions through Western Uganda routinely notch up an incredible tally of 400 species within 14days while budding beginners to semi-professionals might reasonably hope to aim for a 300 tally within the same time.
Key Birding sites
Birdlife is abundant throughout the country, but certain key sites should be included in any birders itinerary. Through the Western circuit, not to miss-out are; Queen Elizabeth National Park for an unrivaled checklist of more than 600 species and it’s classified as an Important Birding Area [IBA] by Birding International, Semliki National Park which is part of the Guinea-Congo biome with over 435species including the Albertine Rift Endemics like Dwarf Honey Guide and Purple-breasted Sunbird as well as limited range species like White-tailed Hornbill, Capuchin Babbler, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher and Orange Weaver, Bwindi Impenetrable- a UNESCO site and accolade winning park in 2012 (number 1 among Africa’s top birding sites by the African Bird Club).
Other interesting birding spots across the country not to miss on your itinerary include; Murchison Falls National Park with its list hitting 451bird species and known for its savanna specials like Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Denham’s Bustard, Red-throated Bee-eater and the Shoebill Stork at the Nile Delta, Kibale Forest Park hosting over 300 species while Bigodi Wetland a wildlife corridor to Kibale boasts over 200 species including the Great Blue Turaco, Kidepo Valley N.P a wilderness park in the Northeast vaunts over 475species including the Kori Bustard, Ostrich, Secretary bird and Egyptian Vultures. Mabamba wetland near Entebbe on the shores of Lake Victoria is a premier site known for its prehistoric looking bird that is sought after by birding enthusiasts- the Shoebill Stork, Lugogo Swamp in Ziwa Rhino sanctuary, Lake Bisina in Eastern Uganda; a stronghold for the endemic Fox’s Weaver and swamp dwellers like Shoebill and Papyrus Gonolek.
Reserves like Budongo, Mpanga Forest, Tooro-Semliki wildlife reserve, Kyambura known for the Lesser and Greater Flamingos, Mabira forest and Maramagambo reward birders variety of forest specials.
Bird watching can be done almost everywhere in Uganda though some sites and areas present stunning opportunities for specialist birders and are prime spots for specific species; for example, Lake Victoria and its surrounding wetlands is known for hosting variety of Migratory (wintering) Birds from Europe.
With a bird list of more than 1000 bird species, Uganda is the smallest among the 4 African countries whose checklist tops that mark. This makes it the country one of the richest countries in terms of species per-unit area.
Uganda is a gem of notable bird species like but not limited to; Shelley’s Crimson-wing, the Shoebill Stork, Grey Crowned Crane- Uganda’s National bird, Green-Breasted Pitta, African Green Broadbill, African Fish Eagle, Doherty’s Bush Shrike, Great Blue Turaco, Yellow-billed Stork, African Fish Eagle, Short-tailed Warbler, African Jacana and Pied Kingfisher among others.
The African Geographic in October 2013, listed Uganda’s top 10 Impressive birds to lookout for while on a birding tour and these include; the Shoebill, Green-breasted Pitta, African Green Broadbill, Great Blue Turaco, Shelley’s Crimson-wing, Standard-winged Nightjar, Short-tailed Warbler, Doherty’s Bush Shrike, Bar-tailed Trogon and Black-breasted Barbet.
On its list of threatened species include; Great Crested Grabe, Lammergeyer, Egyptian Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, White-headed Vulture, Pallid Harrier, Black-crowned Crane, Denham’s Bustard, Shoebill Stork, Hooded Vulture, Common Ostrich, African Black Duck, Black Stork, Madagascar Pond-Heron, Madagascar Squacco Heron and White-backed Night-Heron among others.
Bird Watching Tours in Uganda
3 Days Bird watching in Mabamba Wetland & Lake Mburo
9 Days Birding safari, Primate tracking and Game Viewing
11 Days Uganda Bird Watching Safari