Birding/Bird watching in Uganda

With over 1082 bird species recorded Uganda is among if not the leading Africa birding destinations. Uganda is home to the sought after African Endemic, the Shoebill. Over 24 Albertine Rift Endemics can be seen in Uganda.

As voted by the African Bird Club, Bwindi Forest is the leading birding spot and also home to the elusive mountain gorillas. Birding in Uganda is great all kinds of birders with very many bird watching spots.

Here are the top bird watching destinations, host to other wildlife species which makes it suitable to tailor in other Uganda safari activities.

  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
White-browed Crombec

White-browed Crombec

This rainforest also offers some of the finest montane forest birding experience in Africa and is a key destination for many birders visiting the pearl of Africa. Bwindi offers some of the finest montane forest birding in Africa as a key destination for birders, with over 400 species, including; Western Green Tinkerbird, Chestnut-throated Apalises, White-browed Crombec, Woodland Warbler, African Hill Babbler, etc. 

Amongst the numerous possibilities are no fewer than 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemics including spectacular, globally threatened species such as Shelley’s Crimson Wing and the African Green Broadbill.

  • Queen Elizabeth National Park

Aside from wildlife, Queen Elizabeth National Park is a true birders haven as the park has the highest birdlife of all the national parks in Uganda.

The park is home to more than 660 bird species recorded just within the borders of the park. Many of the bird species here follow the migratory trend of breeding in Asia and Europe but wintering in Africa. Common birds in the park include the Egyptian Goose, Spur-winged plover, African Fish Eagle, Pied Kingfisher, Sacred Ibis, Malachite Kingfisher, Lesser flamingos, African skimmers and many more. 

  • Semuliki National Park

Best described as the birder’s haven, Semuliki is one of the richest areas for  forest birds  in Africa,  with over 420 species recorded, including the freckled & black -shouldered nightjars, buff-spotted flufftail, African wood owl, African goshawk, red-thighed sparrow hawks, intermediate heron and Northern red bishop among others. Semuliki is best suited for hikers who can take the trails and delight in seeing such bird species as the red-billed helmet shrike and the long-tailed hawk. Birders can explore the park and tick off several bird species from their Uganda birding safari desired bird list. 

  • Kibale National Park

Though popular for chimpanzee trekking, Kibale forest is a large block of rainforest that offers excellent birding experiences with about 400 bird species.

These include the Weaver bird, Pied Hornbill, Afep Pigeon, Narina Trogon, Hairy breasted Barbet, Yellow Spotted Barbet, Yellow-billed Barbet, Greenbul, Chestnut Starling and the shy Green Breasted Pitta. The nearby community-run Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary offers birders an impressive bird list of 335 species. Birders can visit the wetland and have a great bird watching experience especially with the various bird sightings. 

  • Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga is also a great destination for bird watching with over 180 bird species that have been recorded and several are localized forest birds.

African paradise flycatcher

African paradise flycatcher

There are 12 bird species that have been recorded as endemic to the Albertine Rift restricted to living within these areas. During a bird watching trip in the park, birders get an opportunity to tick off some Afro alpine endemics such as the scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird, African paradise flycatcher, Black kite, Cape robin-chat, pin-tailed whydah, speckled mousebird, African olive pigeon, Alpine swift, Archer’s robin-chat, Blue-headed coucal, Dusky crimsonwing, Olive woodpecker, Ruwenzori batis, Ruwenzori nightjar, Ruwenzori turaco, and many more. Migratory birds are present from November to April.

  • Kidepo Valley National Park

Around 475 bird species are found in the Kidepo Valley National Park. This makes it a great bird watching hot spot for birders to spot a variety of bird species all through the savannah grasslands of Kidepo. Notable birds in Kidepo Valley National Park include the dark chanting goshawk, kori bustard, little bee-eater, red and yellow barbet, Abyssinian roller, black-breasted barbet, chestnut weaver, fox kestrel, greater kestrel, jackson’s hornbill, purple grenadier, pygmy falcon, rose-ringed parakeet, rufous chatterer, and many more. The ostrich, which is the largest bird is only seen in Kidepo national park in Ugand

  • Lake Mburo National Park 

Over 300 bird species are found in Lake Mburo National Park where the well – developed acacia woodland harbors them. The red-faced barbet is endemic to only Lake Mburo National Park in Uganda and for birders in the country this is the only destination to spot this bird. Other bird species include; the red-necked spurfowl, African wattled plover, flappet larks, rufous-chested swallow, ruppells’ long-tailed starling, sacred lbis, and southern red bishop among others. 

  • Mount Elgon National Park

Mount Elgon is home to at least 144 bird species. Special interest birds on the mountain include Jackson’s spurfowl, eastern bronze naped pigeon, Hartlaub’s turaco, Tacazze sunbird and the endangered lammergeyer. This is because of their restricted range. 

There’s not much wildlife in the park, however, wildlife like elephants and buffaloes can be seen in the explorable caves as they come especially in the night to lick the natural salt found on the cave walls

Uganda has many bird watching destinations and these make it an ideal destination for birders visiting Africa. For Uganda birding safaris, a side from the above birding spots, there are also places like the Mabamba wetland which has the Shoebill, Budongo forest, Mabira forest and many other destination across the country with a bird species possibly spotted in every kilometer within the country.