Birding In Uganda

March 26, 2022
News Journeys Uganda

Uganda is landlocked and falls at the confluence of a number of regional centers of endemism or biomes in Central Africa, each with characteristic avifauna. From the source of the Nile on Lake Victoria to the snow-capped Rwenzori ranges, the montane forests and volcanoes to the semi-arid plains of Karamoja, Uganda is an equatorial country of astonishing contrast.

Over 20% of the surface area of Uganda is covered by wetlands – both open water bodies and marshes of Papyrus reed beds, Miscanthus, etc. Not less than 210 species, ranging from the Shoebill and African Skimmer to the endemic Fox’s Weaver, are found in these wetlands. In addition to the above are four Papyrus endemics: the Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, White-winged Warbler and Papyrus Yellow Warbler. Bi-annual waterfowl counts in Uganda have further revealed the roost of 2 to 3 million White-winged Black Terns in Lutembe bay. In Uganda savanna varies from the remote, semi-desert, dry thorn-scrub region of Karamoja in the Northeast, to the richer fertile savannas of the western rift valley. Queen Elizabeth National Park alone has a bird list of 611 species.

There is undoubtedly no other area in Africa that can match Uganda’s astounding diversity of habitats (despite the fact that there are no coastal habitats). This richness is reflected in the burgeoning bird list of over 1030 species, representing more than half of the bird species found in the whole of Africa, over 10% of the world bird list! Imagine 5 biomes in an area of 236,040 sq km!

Uganda has about 800 resident species, Afro-tropical migrant species that are believed to breed in Uganda, and over 150 palearctic migrants. There are 28 globally threatened species of which two are endemic to Uganda – Fox’s Weaver and the Entebbe Weaver. The Fox’s weaver has quite often been seen in Northeastern Uganda around Lakes Opeta and Bisinia, and the Entebbe Weaver was once reported from the Entebbe peninsula. Although Uganda is poor in endemic species, it nonetheless shares all species recorded from East and Central Africa.

Amongst the exceptional species in Uganda is the Shoebill, most easily accessible from Uganda (as compared to the rest of Africa). The African Green Broadbill in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, African Green-breasted Pitta in Kibale National Park, and Rwenzori Turacco are other spectacular endemics of the Albertine rift that may be difficult or impossible to find elsewhere in the whole of Africa. Out of the 38 species of birds confined to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo in the Albertine Rift Endemic Area (ARE), Uganda hosts 28, mostly confined to the forests of Mgahinga, Rwenzori and Bwindi National Parks in the southwestern part of Uganda.

Despite its relatively small size, Uganda remains the richest in terms of biodiversity in Africa. This can be demonstrated by an incredible record of over 600 species list on a three weeks tour (the highest for any protected area in Africa), and a 296 species record in one day in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

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