Important bird areas in Uganda

Important bird areas in Uganda

January 2, 2022
Safari Tips

Are you a visitor and looking for Important bird areas in Uganda where you can go for birding safari and tour? Below is a list of top spots for your tour;

Queen Elizabeth National park

Queen Elizabeth national park is one of the Important bird areas in Uganda and located around Kasese district. It covers about 1978 sq Km of land. The park boosts of about 550 bird species. The park has a river line bush land, rivers, seasonal and permanent rivers and lakes.
This park has a variety of bird species due to very many different habitants. Some of the bird species to watch out are; squacco heron, water thick knee, yellow backed weavers, pick and white backed pelicans, spur winged plovers, African Jacana, the black crake, knob billed duck, African fish eagle, long tailed cormorants, white faced whistling ducks, yellow billed and spoon billed storks, different types of king fisher’s like the pied and grey headed king fisher’s, and so on. When you do a boat cruise on the Kazinga channel, most of this bird will be common in this area.

Other species of birds here include black-ramped buttonquail, long-tailed cormorants, White-winged Warbler, shoebill, African skimmer, papyrus gonolek, Collard Pranticles, papyrus canary, verreauv’s eagle-owl, Martial Eagle, African Skimmer, White winged terns, black bee-eater, squacco heron, African fish eagle, swamp fly-catcher,   and the thin-tailed Nightjars

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

This is one of the smallest National Park in size with about 33 Sq Km and its located in Kisoro District in south western Uganda. Its borders with Rwanda and the Democratic republic of Congo. The park has recorded about 115 bird species. About 14 of this number are part of the 24 Albertine rift Endemics. The are about 39 of the 88 species of the Afro tropical highlands.

Unlike other birding areas, this park is also home to the endangered mountain gorillas and the special golden monkeys. There are other wild life that you can see while on the birding trail; the Duikers, Bush Bucks, Forest Elephants, Spotted Hynas and many others.

The park also houses three volcanic mountains, Mountains Mgahinga being the smallest, Mountain Sabinyo, and mountain Muhavura

Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park is smallest savanna park and one of the Important bird areas in Uganda. It hosts about 313 bird species that have been recorded here. The park is a hub for several swampy lakes and this makes it a good habitant for a lot of water birds and many other rare birds like the red faced barbet.

The park also has some woodland Acacia vegetation and it also favours a lot of savannah birds. Here are some of the birds to expect Lilac-breasted Roller, African-grey Hornbill, the Nubian, Buff-spotted, Brown-eared, and the Grey Woodpeckers, Trilling, Stout, ; the Crested, Coqui, and the Red-winged Francolins, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Brown Parrot, Barefaced Go-away bird, Harlequin and Blue Quails, African-wattled Plover, Rufous napped and Flappet larks, Rufous-chested Swallow ,Yellow-throated Longclaw, Black-winged Bishop, Chubb’s, Carruther’s and a number of other Cisticolas, Common Button Quail, White-headed and Black-billed Barbet, Greenwood Hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Blue-napped Mousebird, Blue-breasted and Shining-blue Kingfishers  and Wing-snapping Cisticolas, Red-necked spurfowl, Black-bellied Bustard, Temminck’s Courser, the Lesser and Great Swamp Warblers.

Is Uganda safe for birding
Shoebill stork in Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

It is arguably the number one birding spot in Uganda. It has about 357 bird species, of these, there are about 23 of the 24 of the Albertine Rift Endemics. This makes it the forest birder’s paradise.

Among these endemics include the highly globally threaten species like the Handsome Francolin, Yellow crested Helmet Shrike, purple breasted Sunbird, Red faced woodland wabler, Grauer’s Rush wabler, blue headed sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, Neumann’s wabler, Shelley’s Crimsonwing and the African Green Broadbill.
Other Albertine Rift endemics inlcude strange weaver, Archer’s Robin chat, Regal sunbird,  Montane Masked Apalis, Kivu Ground Thrush, Stripe breasted Tit, Red throated Alethe, Rwenzori double collared Sunbird, Dusky Crimson-wing, Lagden’s Bush shrike, Yellow eyed black Flycatcher,  Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Night jar.

Mount Elgon National Park

This Park is Located on the boarder of Uganda and Kenya. Its home to Mountain Elgon which sits about 4,200 meters above sea level. This mountain has a flat topped basalt as one of its special features.

There are about 240 bird species that have been recorded here. There are three of the 8 Kenyan Mountains Endemics, there also five of the 13 Sudan Guinea endemics. There are afro tropical bird species, about 47 of the 70 species.

The park is also home to Sharpe’s longclaw, a globally threatened species along with some regionally threatened and range restricted species; Glaucidiumtephronotum, Bubocapensis, Kakamegapoliothorax, Sheppardiapolioptera,Campephagaquiscalina Indicatorconirostris, Phyllastrephusbaumanni, Gypaetusbarbatus, Stephanoaetuscoronatus, Francolinusstreptophorus, Sarothruraaffinis, and Cisticolahunteri, Francolinusjacksoni respectively.

Kibale Forest National Park

Kibaale National park is another park located in South Western Uganda and it covers about 766 sq Km. The Green breasted Pitta is among the 10 most sought after birds in Uganda. The Black-faced Rufous Warbler, African Dusky Flycatcher, Black-headed Weaver, Black-necked Weaver, African Citril (Western Citril), Black-throated Apalis, Blue-shouldered Robin-chat, Blue-throated Brown Sunbird, Blue-throated Roller, African Blue Flycatcher, Bocage’ Bush-shrike, Black Cuckoo-shrike, Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, Black-and-white Mannikin, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Black-billed Turaco, Black-billed Weaver,  Bronze Sunbird, Brown Illadopsis, Brown-capped Weaver, Brown-chested Alethe, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Brown-headed Tchagra, African-pied Wagtail, Cameroon Sombre Greenbul, Bronze Mannikin, Zebra Waxbill, Chubb’s Cicticola, Black-capped Waxbill, Africa Shrike-flycatcher, African Black-headed Oriole, African Emerald Cuckoo, African Green-pigeon, Black-crowned Tchagra, African Wood Owl,African, Rwenzori, Abyssinian Hill-Babbler, Alpine Swift, Ashy Flycatcher, Barn Swallow, Black Bee-eater, Black Cuckoo, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Yellow-billed Barbet, Afep Pigeon, among others

Beside Kibale being one of the Important bird areas in Uganda, the Park is also a home to the chimpanzees and you can have a chance to track them while on a birding safari. Other primates here include the GuerezaColobus, Olive Baboon, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, L’Hoest’s and Red-tailed Monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, among others.

Budongo Forest Reserve

This reserve was gazzetted as a forest reserve in 1932. Over 335 bird species have been recorded here in the recent times. This is the biggest and second most important reserve after Semuliki Forest National Park. The forest houses 24 mammals, 9 primates, 289 butterfly species and over 130 moth species.

Some of the important bird species to be excited about here are African Moustached Warbler, Greater Blue-eared Starling, Purple Starling, Purple-headed Starling, Splendid Starling, Northern Puffback, Black-headed Gonolek, Tropical Boubou, Isabelline Shrike, Green-backed Eremomela, Yellow-throated Greenbul, African Citril, African Golden-breasted Bunting, Black-crowned Waxbill, Bronze Mannikin, Black-billed Bluebill, Black-winged Red Bishop, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Spectacled Weaver, Little Crake, Yellow-billed Barbet, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, African Paradise Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Yellow-backed Weaver, Compact Weaver, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Holub’s Golden Weaver, Red-headed Weaver, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Black-necked Weaver, ; Pubel’sIlladopsis, Nahan’s Francolin, and the Chocolate–Backed Kingfisher, White-headed Saw-wing, White Wagtail, Black-eared Ground-Thrush,  Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Western Violet-backed Sunbird and lots more.

Murchison Falls National park

Murchison falls national park is the largest national park and its located north western Uganda and one of the Important bird areas in Uganda. It covers an area of about 3,840sq Km. It is home to about 460 bird species. This park is also ranked the 9th best birding spot in Africa. It’s also home to the famous and strong Murchison falls.

The waters here are filled with a lot of wildlife and birds. Some of these animals include; elephant, African Cape buffalo, giraffes, crocodiles, water buck that hang around the river for water.

Budongo forest is one of the sections of this park and it’s located in the southern part of this park. This forest is famous for the chimpanzees and you can track them here.

The park is home to 11 species of the Guinea Congo Biome endemics. It’s also home to 6 species of the afro tropical highland birds and the Masai Biome endemics. You also have chances of seeing the shoebill stock.

Other birds in the park include the Silver Bird, Blue-napped Mouse birds, Grey-crowned Crane, Long-toed Plover, Vitelline Masked Weaver, Saddle-billed Stork, Spotted Mourning Thrush, Spotted and Verreaux’s Owls, Long-tailed and Pennant-winged Nightjars, standard-winged Nightjar, White-backed Night Heron, Bluff-bellied Warblers, Goliath Heron, Black-headed Batis, Black-headed Gonolek, Green-winged Ptyilia, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver,  and Pel’s Fishing Owl.

Important bird areas in Uganda

Semuliki National park.

Semuliki National Park has an area of about 220 Sq Km. It’s a birding paradise with about 400 bird species recorded here in recent times. This park is on the boarder of Uganda and the Democratic Republic Congo. It’s an extension the Ituri forest which makes this park rich with flora and fauna. This park is home to some of the most sought after bird species. Here are some of those to expect: the Long-tailed Hawk, Black-wattled Hornbill, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, the Nkulengu Rail and the globally threatened Lesser Kestrel.

Other bird species to look out in Semuliki National Park include Common Stonechat, Abyssinian Ground-Thrush, Oberlaender’s Ground-Thrush, Grey Ground-Thrush, Little Grey Greenbul, Toro Olive Greenbul, Mountain Greenbul, Blue Swallow, White-throated Blue Swallow, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Spotted Greenbul, White-starred Robin, Lowland Akalat, Red-throated Alethe, Fire-crested Alethe, Snowy-headed Robin-Chat, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Red-eyed Puffback, Cassin’ Spinetail, Sabine’s Spinetail, White-bellied Kingfisher, Shinning-blue Kingfisher, White-tailed Robin-Chat, Northern Bearded Scrub-Robin, Capped Wheatear, Yellow-throated Nicator, Western Nicator, Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike, Petit’s Cuckoo-shrike, Black Saw-wing, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Long-tailed Hawk, Red-thighedSparrowhawk, Chestnut-flanked Goshawk, Grant’s Bluebill, Afep Pigeon, Blue-headed Coucal, Bates’s Nightjar, Swamp Nightjar, Gabon Woodpecker, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-billed Barbet, Double-toothed Barbet, Black-billed Barbet, White-headed Barbet, among others.

About 53 mammal species have been recorded here some of which are nocturnal, shy and elusive. These include: Olive Baboon and GuerezaColobus, rare De Brazza’s Monkeys, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Vervet, Red-tailed monkeys and Chimpanzees on rare occasions. The park is also home to some of the Nocturnal primates that include Pottos and Galagos. With luck, there chances of seeing Elephants, Bush pig, Water Chevrotain, Buffalo, Sitatunga, White-bellied Duiker or Dwarf Antelope, Beecroft’sAnomalure or Zenker’s Flying Mouse.

This park also has a good number of butterflies recorded her and about 46 species of forest Swallowtails and Charaxes (75% of Uganda’s total) and at least 235 species of moths have been classified as restricted.

Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo is one of the Important bird areas in Uganda that was gazzetted in 1962 as a commemoration of the Independence of the country. It sits on about 1442 sq Km. The park has recorded about 480 bird species in recent times. The Park is located in the Northern Easter Uganda and it boarders Kenya and South Sudan. The Park is in between Karamoja and Nageya Valleys.

The Park is home to about 28 Somali Masai Species and Sudan Guinea Biome Endemics. This park has the second highest bird record numbers in any protected areas of Uganda after Queen Elizabeth National Park. It supports some of the rarest species in Uganda, such as Black-breasted Barbet and Karamoja Apalis.

The special bird to look out for here are: Silverbird and small bands of Yellow-billed Shrike, the Yellow-rumped Seedeater, Clapperton’s Francolin, Black Coucal, African Moustached and the Broad-tailed Warblers, Marsh Tchagra and Crimson-rumped Waxbill, the Ruppell’s and Superb Starlings, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, the Vinaceous Dove, Hoopoe, Nubian Woodpecker, Mosque Swallow, Little Weaver and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu.

Others are: Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Rose-ringed Parakeet, White-crested Turaco, White-bellied Go-away bird, White-faced Scoops Owl, Long-tailed and Standard-winged Nightjars, Little Green Bee-eater, Common Ostrich, Secretary Bird, African Swallow-tailed Kite, Eastern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Pygmy Falcon, Fox Kestrel, Stone Partridge, Clapperton’s and Heuglin’s Francolins, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Kori, White-bellied and Hartlaub’s Bustards, Violet-tipped Courser, Black-headed Plover, KaramojaApalis, White-bellied Tit, Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit, Northern White-crowned and Yellow-billed Shrikes, Slate-coloured Boubou, Fan-tailed Raven, Superb Starling, Red billed Oxpecker, Eastern Violet backed, Pygmy and Beautiful Sunbirds, Rufous and Chestnut Sparrow, Yellow-spotted Petronia, White-headed and White-billed Buffalo Weavers, , Four-banded Sand Grouse,  Abyssinian and Rufous-crowned Rollers, the Abyssinian Ground, Eastern Yellow and Jackson’s Hornbills, Red-fronted and Black-breasted Barbets, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Singing Bush lark, Red-winged Lark, Ethiopian Swallow, the Pied, Isabelline and Heuglin’sWheaters, African Grey Flycatcher, Foxy and Red pate Cisticolas White-browed and Chestnut- crowned Sparrow Weavers, Grey-capped Social and Speckle-fronted Weavers, the Green-winged, Orange-winged and Red-winged Pytilias, Black-bellied and Black-faded Waxbills, Steel-blue and Strawtailed Whydahs, and the Brown-rumped Bunting.

This national park has about 28 Mammal species that are not anywhere in the country of the 80 species recorded here. The special ones include: Cheetah and Klipspringer, Bat-eared Fox, Carcal.

Other animals include Lesser Kudu, Grant’s gazelle and Beisa Oryx has not been seen at all in recent times and was presumed to be locally extinct. The larger animals include the Elephant, Waterbuck, Common Zebra, Buffalo, Bohor Reedbuck and Kongoni.

Botanical Gardens in Entebbe

This is the only national botanical garden in Uganda. The Gardens were formalized or gazetted in 1901 and it’s located on the shores of Lake Victoria. The garden is home to different types of water, open country and woodland bird species which include the Africa and Red-billed Firefich, Black-and-white-Casqued Hornbill, Senegal Coucal, Little Stint, Little Weaver, Striated Heron, Ruff, Gull-billed Tern, Black-headed Gonolek, Ruppell’s Long-tailed Sterling, Grey-Headed Sparrow, the Spur-winged Lapwing, White-winged Tern, Klaas’s and Diederik Cuckoos, Northern Crombec, Tambourine Dove, Cameroon Sombre Greenbul, Little Grey Greenbul, the Pink-backed Pelican, Yellow-billed Stork, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Yellow White-eye, Purple-banded Sunbird, African Jacana, Lesser Jacana, Yellow-billed Duck, Glossy Ibis, African Open-billed Stork, Malachite Kingfisher, Blue-checked Bee-eater, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Black Crake, Long-tailed Cormorant, Crowned Hornbill, Vieillot’ Black Weaver, Woodland Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Water Thick-knee, Madagascar Bee-eater, Egyptian Goose, Black-headed weaver, Slender-billed Weaver, Yellow-backed Weaver, and others.

Mabamba Wetland swamp.

Mabamba swamp is located on the shores of Lake Victorian the northern side in Entebbe. This  a prime wetland and its famous for the rare shoebill stock that is sought after by nature lovers and bird enthusiasts. It is a swamp thicket that covers about 2424 hectares with papyrus and lilies.

This swamp is a ramsar site and has also been listed as one the Important bird areas in Uganda. The site boosts of over 300 bird species many of which are threatened. Its also home to 7 of the Lake victoria’s Biome endemics the most notable being the papyrus Gonolek and other water species. The site is also flocked by Paleartic migrants that are here from October through to March.

The easiest route to the swamp from Entebbe is Via Nakiwogo landing site using a ferry to Kasanje. The ferry takes about 10mis and when you reach the land you will drive about 30mins to Mabamba swamp. You will have a chance to see a lot of garden birds. Birding on this swamp is done on a motorized wooden canoe and cut through the thickets.

This swamp is known and popular for the shoebill stock that is one of the most sought after birds in Uganda. This bird is not found in many areas in Uganda. This place gives you the best chance in Uganda to see this rare bird.

The Swamp is rich with Lung Fish( Mamba) and it’s the best food for the shoebill stock. This lung fish is also the most sought after fish in this area by the local fishermen which makes the survival of the shoe bill tricky. Fishermen in this area had a superstitution that seeing a shoebill before fishing would result into a poor catch of the day. This meant that they would hunt down these birds to reduce on the bad omen on this park of the lake.

People have been educated and they now value the shoebill stock and they are working with the bird watching community to make sure these birds are protected. Some fishermen have been trained to do guiding and they use their boats to get extra income and reduce on the fishing of the lung fish to make sure the shoebills are left with food to eat.

When you are to do a birding tip to Mabamba, you will have to reach the swamp by 7am before any other activities on the swamp that can drive the birds away.

Important bird areas in Uganda

Other Mabamba Swamp birds include;

Malachite Kingfisher, Marsh Harrier, Northern Brown-throated Weather, Orange Weaver, Papyrus Gonolek, Pied Kingfisher,  Cattle Egret, Common Moorhen, Common Sandpiper, Common Sqacco Heron, Double Toothed Barbet, Glossy Ibis, Goliath Heron, Great Cormorant, Great White Egret, Great White Pelican, Green Cuckoo, Grey Heron, Grey-crowned Crane, Gull-billed Tern, Hadada Ibis, Harmerkop, Little Egret, Little Stilt, Long-tailed Cormorant, Long-toed Lapwing, Pied Wagtail, Pink-backed Pelican, Pin-tailed Whyda, Purple Heron, Red-eyed Dove, Red-headed Love-bird, Shining Blue Kingfisher, Speckled Mousebird, Spur-winged Goose, Spur-winged Lapwing, Swamp Flycatcher, Veilots’ Black Weaver, Village Weaver, Water Thicknee,  Black-headed Heron, Black-winged Stilt, Blue Swallow, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, White-browed Cuckoo, White-faced Whistling Duck, White-throated Bee-eater, White-winged Tern, Winding Cistocola, Wood Sandpiper, Woodland Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kite, Black-headed Weaver, Yellow-billed Duck, African Fish Eagle, Purple Swamphe, African Green Pigeon, African Jacana, African Marsh Harrier, African Pigmy Goose, Black Crake, Black Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Black-crowned Waxbill.

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