Birding in Mabira Forest Reserve

Birding in Mabira Forest Reserve

March 11, 2024
News Journeys Uganda

Birding in Mabira Forest Reserve: Mabira Forest, located in Buikwe District between Lugazi and Jinja in Uganda, is a rainforest area covering approximately 300 square kilometres (120 square miles) or 30,000 hectares. It has been protected as the Mabira Forest Reserve since 1932. Though isolated from the nearby sugar and banana plantations, this incredibly productive forest could be the richest in the country, and well-maintained trails make birdwatching a breeze. Mixed flocks can often be seen along the wide roads, and the virtually endemic Weyn’s Weaver, perhaps the most beautiful of the species, spends its time in the canopy among noisy groups. There is a chance to see African Pied Hornbills and Forest Wood-Hoopoe, and the seasonal lakes could attract Blue-breasted, White-bellied, Dwarf, and Shining-Blue Kingfishers.


The Mabira central forest reserve lies north of Lake Victoria. Elevations range from 1070 to 1340 metres above sea level. The forest is drained by streams that generally empty northward into the Victoria Nile. Ecology; Mabira Forest is the largest remaining block of semi-evergreen rainforest in the Victoria Basin forest-savanna mosaic ecoregion. Although it is a secondary forest, it has been subject to long-term human influence. Logging began in the early 20th century, leading to the removal of characteristic trees like East African mahogany (Khaya anthotheca) and mvule (Milicia excelsa) for valuable timber. The reserve is home to 315 species of birds, 312 species of trees, 218 butterfly species, and 23 small mammal species.

Threats and Conservation

In 2007, there were controversial plans to clear one-third of Mabira Forest (around 70 square kilometres) for sugarcane plantations. Environmental activists expressed concerns about the loss of endangered species, increased erosion, and negative impacts on water balance and regional climate.

our ongoing study of bird density in the Bird-Life International IBAs surrounding the catchment of the L. Victoria basin through sequential birdwatching. We have focused on the Mabira forest, which is a threatened kingdom and contains a large portion of Congo-guinea forest with a great concentration of Croton, paper mulberry, Cola gigantea, and Meopsis eminii. With the assistance of National Forest Authority Forest Sector Manager Christine, Paul, and Tony, our head guide, plus the forest research assistants, Mabira Forest is one of the best places in Uganda for birdwatching. Eric Bogere is a charismatic and diligent birder who has spent several days visiting the Mabira forest area at various times of the day.

(a) Throughout the day, be mindful of the trees in this semi-deciduous forest. These trees provide a variety of functions, such as providing fruit for carnivores, roosting grounds for various species, and perches. Additionally, riverine areas are home to a variety of species, including water insects, flies, butterflies, caterpillars, and raptors at the top of the food chain, as well as the smallest and nearby passerines.

Common trees like Cordia Africana, Paper Mulberry, Albizhia coriaria, Warburgia ugandensis, Zanthoxylum chalebuem, Ficus ovate, Terminalia superba, and several others are sure to captivate botanists who have a strong interest in tropical ecology. The majority of these trees are said to be able to cure over 35 ailments, making them a popular destination for medicinal tourism.

(b) Dangers to the Central region’s largest carbon emission scavenger as chainsaw-wielding loggers, community encroachers for farming and settlement, and people who burn charcoal for energy, we applaud the NFA patrolmen for their service and demand more efforts to prevent the destruction of the forest by vital maximal tactics.

With the increasing frequency of forest visits as Ugandan birding takes off, these birding guides have created a checklist that contains some of the area’s most elusive birds, which any birdwatcher can find fascinating!

The rare and very shy Forest Robin, whose contact cries are difficult to see as they flicker from end to end, gives us a great start! We can not even mark the Green Crombec’s call as heard because it is above us! The lower tone of the Northern Yellow White-Eye call instantly reveals its presence. The forest is alive, so it is a terrific start! We monitor birds worldwide through our Bird Population Programme in Uganda, which was started by our premier conservation organisation, Nature Uganda. Since we apply the BPM programme plan, top birds predominate in our monitoring forms. While using the line transaction approach.

Mabira Forest’s towering canopy shelters hundreds of tree species, providing habitat for an abundance of birdlife, including primates like the red-tailed monkey and the olive baboon, as well as various species of colourful birds. It’s a precious ecological gem worth exploring!

Bird species found in Mabira Forest Reserve

The unique Great Blue Turaco nests in the lush forest.

Mabira Forest, is a haven for birdwatchers. Here are some of the fascinating bird species you can encounter in this lush forest; Great Blue Turaco: With its vibrant blue and green plumage, the Great Blue Turaco is a striking sight as it glides through the forest canopy, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird: Keep an eye out for this tiny bird with its distinctive yellow throat. It’s often found perched on branches, tapping away at tree barks. the newly split Congo Pied Hornbill: This medium, black-and-white hornbill is known for its impressive bill and distinctive call. Spot it as it moves gracefully among the trees. African Crowned Eagle: Look up! The African Crowned Eagle soars high above the forest, its powerful wings carrying it effortlessly.

Other sly inhabitants include; Red-tailed and Yellow-eyed Bristlebill, Honeyguide, Plain, Little and Toro Olive Greenbul, while the canopy is inhabited by Yellow-throated and Speckled Tinkerbirds. Other commonly sighted birds include Yellow-billed, Yellow-spotted, and Hairy-breasted Barbets, in addition to the uncommon Tit Hylia. Other birds that could be present if safari ants are on the march are the Fire-crested Alethe, Forest Robin, Red-caped and Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat. The elusive Purple Throated Cuckooshrike, Olive Green Camaroptera , Chestnut and Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Grey and Yellow Longbill, Grey-headed and Orange-tufted Sunbird, Grey-throated Tit, Sooty, African Paradise, and Red-bellied paradise flycatcher, Tambourine Dove, White Breasted and Grey-Headed Nigrita, the loug calling Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo with its counterparts the Red-chested, African Emerald and Black Cuckoo are always heard allover the Forest not leaving out the Nahan’s Partridge and the localized Forest Wood Hoopoe, the skies over the forest are very rich with Cassin’s and Ayres’s Hawk Eagle, Sabines, Mottled and Cassin’s Spinetail,  lookout at the ponds for the Shining-blue and very shy White-bellied Kingfisher as they are great possibilities not leaving out the White-spotted Flufftail and many more species are among the numerous that we hope to see while birding here.

Mabira Forest Reserve is truly a treasure trove of birdlife wonders, where 315 bird species have been recorded. Whether you’re an avid birder or simply appreciate the beauty of nature, the forest offers an unforgettable experience. For more detailed observations, you can explore the eBird Hotspot for Mabira Forest here. Visitors can also enjoy forest walks along over 68 kilometres of well-developed trails. Other activities include mountain biking, bird watching, environmental education, primate watching, and general forest exploration.