Birding Safaris in Uganda: Best Birdwatching Spots in Uganda

Birding in Uganda; Uganda is a birding hotspot with a checklist of over 1,070 bird species recorded. This bird list makes 50% of Africa’s bird species and 11% of the world’s species. Within an area of 241,038 sq.km, Uganda boasts the highest concentration of birds per square kilometers on the continent. This makes it easy to spot a variety of bird species in a small area while on a Uganda safari.

The wide range of habitats in Uganda make perfect dwelling places for such an amazing diversity of bird species. Uganda shelters many migrant birds during specific times of the years. Other bird species have migrated from areas including the Lake Victoria shores, Albertine rift and the source of the Nile to national parks.

Top ten birds of Uganda

Uganda’s top bird species to look out for on a birding tour

From the huge list of bird species in Uganda, here are the most sought after species by birders on Uganda birding safaris;

  1. The shoebill stork
  2. Great blue turaco
  3. Rwenzori turaco
  4. Green breasted pitta
  5. African Green Broadbill
  6. Shelley’s Crimson-wing
  7. Jameson’s Antpecker
  8. Nahan’s Francolin
  9. Karamoja Apalis
  10. Short tailed warbler

Some of the Albertine rift endemic bird species in Uganda include; Fox’s Weaver, Blue-headed Sunbird,  Red-throated Alethe, Short-tailed Warbler, Ruwenzori Nightjar, Handsome Francolin, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Rwenzori Batis, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Mountain Masked Apalis, Dwarf Honeyguide, Regal Sunbird, Stripe-breasted Tit, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, Kivu Ground Thrush and Red-faced Woodland Warbler to mention but a few.

Among the common bird species that are easy to spot in Uganda includes the African Emerald Cuckoo, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, African Blue flycatcher, Common Bulbul and African fish eagle.

Top birding spots in Uganda

There are more than 30 Important Bird Areas (IBA) in Uganda. Many of these have been designated for bird watching with well-established birding trails. At each site, you will find expert birding guides who have been trained in conducting remarkable bird watching tours with expertise in bird identification.

These below are Uganda’s top destinations for bird watching

Mabamba bay wetland

Mabamba wetland is located on the shores of Lake Victoria and houses about 260 bird species. It is mostly known for the shoebill stork. Other bird species around the site include; Pied Kingfishers, great cormorant, Blue-breasted Bee-eaters, Grassland pipit, African Pygmy Goose, Rufous-napped Lark and the Lizard Buzzard among others.

Bwindi Impenetrable national park

According to the African Bird Club, Bwindi is the best birding spot in Africa. It is home to about 347 bird species and some of them include; the African green pigeon, Giant kingfisher, Western Green Tinkerbird, African Wood Owl, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Red-throated Alethe, Fine-banded Woodpecker, Handsome Francolin and African harrier hawk.

Queen Elizabeth national park

Recording upto 612 bird species, Queen Elizabeth national park has the largest number of bird species than any other wildlife reserve in East Africa. Birding hotspots in the park include Mweya peninsula, Kasenyi, Maramagambo forest, Kyambura, Lake Kikorongo and the crater area.  Some of the bird species include; the Collared prantincole, Swamp fly catcher, African finfoot, black bee-eater, African skimmer, Yellow bellied wattle-eye, Papyrus gonolek, Grey-winged robin-chat, Caspian plover and White-winged turn.

The Rwenzori Mountains national park

The Rwenzori Mountains have a checklist of over 210 bird species. While in the park expect to see birds like the Rwenzori Turaco, Malachite sunbird, Golden-winged and Blue-headed Sunbird, Archer’s Robin-chat, Long-eared Owl, Long-tailed cuckoo, White-starred Robin, Laden’s Bush-shrike, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater plus Black Eagles and Bearded Vultures among others.

Semuliki national park

Semuliki is an exceptional birding spot with about 440 bird species, 200 of which are forest birds. Major birding sites are Sempaya, Ntandi and Kirumia. Some of the bird species here are Piping Hornbill, Yellow-throated Nicator, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, White-crested Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Xavier’s Greenbul, Ross’s Turacos and more.

Kibale National park

Apart from chimpanzee tracking, bird watching is a worthwhile activity to do around Kibale national park. It has more than 350 bird species. The adjacent Bigodi swamp is another birding paradise. Birds that can be sited in Kibale include the White collared oliveback, Papyrus Canary, White-winged Warbler, Pin-tailed whydah, Papyrus Gonolek, Yellow-billed Barbet, Black-capped Apalis, Crowned Eagle and the Tropical boubou.

The Royal Mile- Budongo forest

The Royal Mile is one of the best sites for bird watching in Budongo forest and among the many birds of the forest you can spot here include the Spotted Greenbul, Blue-throated Roller, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Nahan’s Francolin, Hairy breasted barbet, African crowned eagle, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Fire-crested Alethe, Casine’s Spine tail, White-thighed Hornbill, Rufous-crowned Elemomela, Narina Trogon, Black and white casqued hornbill and African pygmy kingfisher among others.

Mabira forest

This forest is one of the major birding sites closest to Kampala, just 1.5 hours drive away. It boasts about 315 bird species including the Tit Hylia, purple throated cuckoo, Nahan’s francolin, Jameson’s wattled eye, Dusky long tailed cuckoo, Afep pigeon, African dwarf kingfisher, European honey buzzard, White-spotted flufftail, Grey parrot and black shouldered kite among others.

Other places good for bird watching are;

  • Murchison falls national park
  • Lake Mburo NP
  • Echuya Forest reserve
  • Lutembe bay
  • Kidepo valley national park
  • Pian Upe Game reserve

Suggested Birding safaris in Uganda

1 Day Mabamba shoebill tour

1 days Entebbe botanical gardens birding tour

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