Bird species in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda

Bird species in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda

February 22, 2024
News Journeys Uganda

Are you looking for top bird species you can see during your tour in Murchison Falls National Park? Yes, one of the most beautiful and largest parks in Uganda is Murchison Falls National Park, which is ranked the 9th best birding destination in Africa. It is situated to the northwest of the capital, Kampala, in Masindi district, covering an area of 3,893 square kilometres. This park spans the northern Albertine Rift Valley region, a haven for birding and wildlife safari experiences, not forgetting the spectacular, powerful waterfalls as one of the main attractions. This is mainly attributed to the park’s natural surroundings, which are dominated by varying vegetation zones that support wildlife safaris such as savannah grasslands, marshes, and riverine tropical rainforests, hence a perfect habitat for various bird species. The park is home to more than 451 bird species, Murchison Falls National Park supports 20 species from the different biomes within its confluence: 11 species from the extensive Ituri, which is a continuum of the Guinea-Congo Forest; the park also has 3 species of the Afro-tropical Highlands and 3 of the delicate subdued birds of the open country Somali-Masai biome. River Nile

Migratory/seasonal birds found in Murchison Falls National Park.

Usually, migratory bird species are seen in Murchison Falls National Park between November and April. The park attracts both intra-African migrants, which are both vertical and horizontal, and wintering birds that mostly come in from Northern Europe and Asia. These birds migrate from the areas around Murchison Falls and the forested border corridors of the extensive Ituri forest from West Africa. These birds include rare birds such as the Secretary Birds, Pallid and Mantagu’s, Western Marsh Harrier, the nomadic and gregarious Abdim’s Stork that breed in the northern tropics of Africa, Grasshopper Buzzard, Red-backed, Woodchat and Isabelline Shrike  Northern, Isabelline and  Pied Wheatears, Osprey Northern and Southern Carmine Bee-eaters, European Roller Great Snipe, Eurasian Thick-knee, and Bronze-winged Courser and many more migrants are commonly found in the rolling plains of savannah grasslands, marshes and riverine forests. All of these bird species are protected, making this park a great place for bird enthusiasts to visit.

Savannah birds found in Murchison Falls National Park.

The Abyssinian Ground Hornbill with a blue pouch poses in the savannah grassland of Murchison Falls National Park.

The rolling savannah grasslands of Murchison Falls National Park are home to a variety of beautiful birds such as the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, the second largest Bustard, Denham’s and Black-Bellied Bustard, Speckle-fronted Weaver, Red-necked Falcon, Red-headed, Cardinal and Red-billed Quelea, Nortehern Red Bishop, Black-headed Lapwing, Spotted Thick-knee, Lappet-faced and the critically endangered and uncommonly attractive White-headed Vulture. Swallow-tailed, Little, and Northern Carmine Bee-eaters and occasionally we find the Southern Carmine as well, Banded Martin, Scarce Swift, Diederik and Jacobin Cuckoo, White-browed and Senegal Coucal, Dark-chanting Goshawk, Tawny Eagle, Heuglin’s Francolin, Pale and Gambaga Flycatcher, Spotted and Senegal Thick-knee, Black-billed Barbet, Shelley’s Rufous Sparrow, Black Scimitarbill Abyssinian  Roller, Vitelline Masked Weaver, White-browed Sparrow-weaver, Green-wood Hoopoe, and Grey Kestrel. Murchison Falls has unique mammals, including the African Lion, Leopard, the graceful and endangered Rothschild Giraffe, Lelwel’s Hartebeest, Waterbuck, Oribi, Side-striped Jackal, and the shy Bohor Reedbuck, always camouflaging with the handsome Uganda Kobs.

Occasional and rare birds found in Murchison Falls National Park.

The serene natural surroundings of the park are home to rare and periodic bird species such as Red-winged Pytilia, the prehistoric Shoebill Stork, Black-headed Lapwing, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Giant Kingfisher, Egyptian Plover has been sighted in certain months of the year around the banks near Paraa, the best place for the Rock Pratincole, Grey-crowned Crane, the national bird is Uganda, Nightjars, mostly the Standard Winged and Pennant, Black-bellied Bustard and others not to be missed on birding trips to Murchison falls with Journeys Uganda.

Common/notable birds found in Murchison Falls National Park.

Common bird species found along the Nile riverine Delta are always spotted in the dry season from January to March including those that inhabit the marshes, woodlands, and river banks of both the Albert Nile and Victoria Nile such as the Coucals, Geese, Woodland Kingfishers, Hamerkop, Red-throated Bee-eater, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Bruce’s Green Pigeons, Beautiful and Pygmy Sunbirds, Doves, Plovers, Flycatchers, Francolins, Crombecs and Warblers, Stilts, Mousebirds, Shrikes, Woodpeckers, Piapiac, Denham’s Bustard, Palm-nut Vulture, Saddle-billed Stork, African Jacana, Speckle-fronted Weaver, Grey Crowned Crane, Veracious dove, Sandpipers, Pied Kingfishers, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Standard-winged Nightjar, Martial Eagle, Common Squacco Heron, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Spot-flanked and Black-billed Barbet, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, African Darter, Pygmy and Malachite Kingfisher, Rock Pratincole among others.

How to spot bird species in Murchison Falls National Park.

The best way to see Murchison Falls’ diverse bird species is during game drives, hiking to the top of the falls, and nature walks such as a walk in the savannah grasslands. You can also take a wonderful Victoria Nile boat trip along the Nile Delta towards Lake Albert (Albert Delta) as you observe different bird species such as kingfishers, the rare Shoebill stork, Goliath and Grey Heron, ducks and others. Perhaps near Paraa and Red Chilli Lodges, birds such as the blue-headed Coucal, Bar-breasted Firefinch, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Senegal thick-knee, Gray Crowned Crane, Great Reed Warbler, Kingfishers, and Weavers can be observed through the dry thorn bushes. Nocturnal birds such as Nightjars and Owls can be seen especially early morning or in the late evenings.

Top birding spots in Murchison Falls National Park:

The Albert Delta

It is a channel of the Nile Delta that empties its waters into Lake Albert and is one of the best serene places for bird watching, with marshes and neighbouring tropical rainforests with floating vegetation islands where birds live. Here you can easily spot bird species like Pied Kingfisher; on very lucky days we have sighted the Pel’s Fishing Owl, Shoebill is almost a must-see along this place; the visiting Osprey, Goliath, Grey Heron, and many more on a boat ride to and around the Delta area.

Budongo Forest.

Budongo forest is in the southern part of Murchison Falls National Park, located eastward as you approach the park headquarters.  This is one of Uganda’s tropical rainforests, harbouring 2 central African rare forest species, the Puvel’s Illadopsis and Yellow-footed Flycatcher, with over 360 species of birds. The dense canopies and thickets of the forest support bird life such as the hard-to-find Black-eared Ground Thrush, the smallest African Dwarf Kingfisher, very shy Blue-breasted with the Chocolate-backed in the forest canopy, and Shining Blue always sighted down and the river that crosses through the forest. Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Ituri Batis, Rufus-crowned Eremomela, Yellow-billed and Yellow-spotted Barbet, Forest Flycatcher, Willcocks’s and Cassin’s Honeyguide, Nahan’s Partridge, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Scaly and Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Plain, White-throated and Spotted Greenbul, Fire-crested Alethe, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Cassin’s spine tail, Yellow-throated greenbul, and others.

Kaniyo Pabidi forest.

Another unique bird-watching destination in Murchison Falls National Park is Kaniyo Pabidi Forest, found in the southern part of the park near Kichumbanyobo gate. This unique magical jungle is home to one of the endemic bird species, commonly known as the Puvel’s Illadopsis and this is the only site in East Africa.  Perhaps the forest is a true habitat for numerous bird species where avid birders can easily spot numerous bird species such as the Narina Trogon, Grey and yellow Longbill, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Forest Robin, Grey Apalis, Little Greenbul, African Shrike-flycatcher, and Chestnut-caped Flycatcher,  among others.

Sections of Paraa and Red Chilli.

The rolling savannah grasslands, thickets, and thorny shrubs around the sections of Paraa and Red Chill Safari Lodges are prime centres of attractions for several birds in Murchison Falls National Park, such as the Grey-crowned Crane, Spotted Palm-thrush, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Hornbills, Weavers, Grey Heron, Sunbird, Palm-nut Vultures, and others.

Cost of birding in Murchison Falls National Park.

Bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park costs $30 per person for non-resident foreigners, $25 per person for non-residents, and UGX20,000 per person for citizens of East African member states. Tourists who are visiting Murchison Falls National Park for bird watching should know that the birding fees exclude park entrance fees and other park activities. Bird watching fees can be paid at Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Kampala or at the park headquarters of Murchison Falls National Park.

The best time to go birding is in Murchison Falls National Park.

Birding in Murchison Falls National Park is possible all year round but is best done outside the peak season from January to March, when birds are most active, particularly migratory birds from November to April. There is always little rainfall from December to February, but it is very wet from April to May and September to November. During these heavy rains, roads remain impassable and slippery as most breeding grounds are in remote areas, but with Journeys Uganda’s fleet of 4×4 Landcruisers, we get you the best birding spots in Murchison Falls National Park.

Other activities found in Murchison Falls National Park.

 In addition to bird watching, the park offers tourists the opportunity to have fun and take part in exciting, spectacular and unforgettable adventures. These include; nature walks and hikes to the top of the falls with beautiful and spectacular views, a boat trip to the base of the falls along the Victoria and Albert Nile Delta, a hub for Nile crocodiles and hippos, a safari along the Victoria Nile where you can admire them and have the opportunity to see a variety of animals. such as giraffes, buffaloes, waterbucks, elephants, oribi, Jackals, sport fishing, where tourists directly catch various species of fish such as tilapia, Nile perch, cultural tours, where tourists interact with locals and others,

What to carry on a bird-watching Safari in Murchison Falls National Park.

For one to conduct a successful bird-watching trip, the standard measure of reliable equipment should be taken into consideration, since it plays a crucial role in facilitating an exciting and unforgettable bird-watching experience. Such items include; a backpack, hiking boots, sunglasses, mosquito repellents, a telescope, binoculars, drinking water, a field guide book, a pen,, waterproof jackets, and many others.

Accommodation in Murchison Falls National Park.

Accommodation in Murchison Falls National Park is one of the basic components that spice up any standard safari birding safari to make it memorable. Therefore, it can be offered at Pakuba Safari Lodge, Paraa Safari Lodge, Nile Safari Lodge, Red Chill Rest Camp, Fort Murchison, and Murchison Falls Bamboo Village, among others.

How to access Murchison Falls National Park.

The park is located in northwest Uganda and can be reached using various means of transportation. There is an option to book scheduled or charter flights with Aero Link Uganda from Entebbe Airport or via Kajjansi Airport to the airstrips of Pakuba, Bugungu, or Chobe, and from there connect to the Headquarters Park.

Murchison Falls Park is also accessible by road through Kampala-Gulu Highway off to Masindi towards the park headquarters, which takes around 5–6 hours by safari vehicle.

Murchison Falls National Park is the second most popular birding destination in Uganda after Queen Elizabeth National Park. It also encompasses other tourist attractions, such as wildlife safaris, that rank Uganda as one of the best tourism destinations in Africa. For an unforgettable bird-watching experience, you should visit Murchison Falls National Park and enjoy its breathtaking beauty.