Birding in Kibale National Park

Birding in Kibale National Park

February 20, 2024
News Journeys Uganda

Are you looking for Birding in Kibale National Park? Kibale National Park is located in western Uganda and contains a diverse array of landscapes containing both lowland and montane forests. The Park is 766 square kilometres in size and is estimated to be 3600ft and 5200ft in elevation. Kibale National Park forms a continuous forest with Queen Elizabeth National Park. This creates a 180-kilometre wildlife corridor and an ecosystem that is a habitat for various primate and birding species.

The Park is home to over 325 different bird species. Most of these include the forest bird species for example the Green-breasted Pitta which is a rare species and one that never misses on most birder’s checklist. Furthermore, the park has six Albertine endemic species which are the Collared Apalis, Black-capped Apalis, Dusky Crimsonwing, Purple-breasted Sunbirds, Red-faced Woodland Warbler and the Blue-headed Sunbirds. Also, the park contains 4 endemic bird species that can’t be found in any other National Park in Uganda such as the Nathan’s Francolin, Blue-headed Bee-eater, Masked Apalis and Cassin’s Spinetail.

Pied Kingfisher

Other key species of birds found in Kibale National Park.

The Abyssinian ground Thrush, Great-blue Turaco, Black-billed Turaco, Ross’s Turaco, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Black-headed Gonolek, Papyrus Gonolek, Double-toothed Barbet, Yellow-billed Barbet, Yellow-spotted Nicator, Broad-billed Roller, Blue-throated Roller, Speckled Tinkerbird, Bronze Sunbird, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Red-chested Sunbird, Narina Trogon, Crowned Hornbill, Black and White Casqued Hornbill, Remeron Pigeon, African Thrush, Toro-olive, Plain, White-throated, Honeyguide, Grey and Little Greenbul, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Blue-breasted Kingfisher,  Giant Kingfisher, Woodland Kingfisher, African Shrike -Flycatcher, White-naped and Afep Pigeon, Red-caped and Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, African Green Pigeon, Pin-tailed Whydah, African Emerald Cuckoo, Mountain and African Pied Wagtail, Black-crowned Waxbill, Slender-Billed Weaver, Lagden’s Bush shrike, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Helmeted Guineafowl, Eastern Plantain-Eater, Speckled Mousebird, Yellowbill, White-Browed Coucal, Blue-Headed Coucal, African Black Duck,  Common Bulbul, Tropical Boubou, Yellow-Billed Oxpecker, Black-Crowned Tchagra, Brown-Caped Weaver, Yellow-mantled and Grosbeak Weaver, African Firefinch and the Common Waxbill among others. Also, especially between November and April, the park receives migratory birds.

Birding in Kibale National Park is mostly carried out in the Kanyanchu sector of the park which is along the Kanyanchu Chimpanzee Trail. Furthermore, Kibale National Park is close to Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary another birder’s haven which is a habitat to numerous bird species [ 200 species] that one can add to their checklist. The Wetland Sanctuary is a community project and experienced professional guides from Journeys Uganda usually take tourists for a 3 – 4-hour trail in the Sanctuary.

Great Blue Turaco

The Birding activity in Kibale National Park usually starts at around 6 am in early morning at the Kanyanchu Visitor Centre to ensure a memorable experience and because the main targeted bird is easy to find when it is displaying which it does between 6: 45 am and 7

;30 though it can unusually go on till late in the day. The activity is best done on a guided forest walk along the well-developed hiking and walking Trails hence enabling tourists to spot a variety of bird species while in the park.

What’s the best time for birding in Kibale National Park?

Birding as an activity can be carried out throughout the year in Kibale National Park depending on your wish-list, but the best time to visit the park for birding is during the months from June to July and from November to December. This is also because this is the main fruiting season of the year, there is enough food, and most of the birds are in a breeding season. The best time to spot migratory birds is from November to April. The Green-breasted Pitta has been breeding mostly in the months of June and July, however for the last 2 year the displays have been almost all year round in the different territories.

What to carry while on a birding Safari in Kibale National Park?

Kibale National Park is a rain forested area so one is expected to carry the necessary items and appropriate clothes. Some of the necessary items a birder should carry include the following;

Afield bag pack and field clothes such as hats, hiking boots, Gloves, and pair of sandals
A Field Guide book  at Journeys Uganda we recommend Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe, Birds of East Africa
Binoculars and flashlight
Camera
Sunglasses
Insect repellents
Water bottle and snacks
Range maps
A spotting scope and tripod or window mount, can be optional our guide has one for each group.
Spare batteries for photographic equipment and other gear.
Personal medication such as anti-malaria drugs.
Rain gear
Swimming gear

How to get to Kibale National Park?

Kibale Forest National Park can easily be accessed by both road and air means of transportation. From Kampala the capital city of Uganda, the park is 300km while a vehicle is transportation means. This road drive is about 5-6 hours and involves rewarding scenic views along the way. Alternatively, the park can also be accessed by Air where travellers fly from Entebbe International Airport to Kasese Airstrip or Nyakisharara Airstrip in Mbarara City. Usually, the flight takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes after which travellers are transferred to the park by Journey’s Uganda’s professional guides for a rewarding birding experience.

Where to find accommodation while in Kibale National Park?

The Park has a wide range of accommodation facilities around it. These facilities cater for both high-end luxurious tourists and budget travellers. Some of the notable accommodation facilities include; Kibale Forest Camp, Isunga Lodge, Ataco Country Resort, Chimpanzee Forest Guest House, Crater Safari Lodge, Kyaninga Lodge, Ndali Lodge, Primate Safari Lodge, Papaya Lake Lodge, Turaco Treetops Lodge and Rwetera Safari Park among others.