Uganda’s checklist for Birdwatching

Uganda’s checklist for Birdwatching

March 28, 2024
News Journeys Uganda

Uganda’s Checklist for Birdwatching: One of the best places in the world to go birdwatching, Uganda is a veritable wonderland with over a thousand different kinds of birds. Uganda provides a wide range of settings that draw an amazing array of bird species, from the tranquil lakeshores to the expansive savannas and lush rainforests. We will look at some of the most recognisable and sought-after species that can be seen in Uganda in this birdwatching checklist, along with the top locations for birdwatching all throughout the nation.

Most common and rare Bird species in Uganda

The Grey Crested Crane: The stunning and graceful Crested Crane, scientifically known as Balearica regulorum or often called the Grey Crowned Crane, is the national bird of Uganda. It is a sight to behold, with its towering height, grey feathers, golden crown, and bright crimson throat pouch. The Ugandan coat of arms has a picture of the Crested Crane, which is frequently connected to monarchy. It is widespread across the nation, amid grasslands and marshes.

Shoebill Stork (Balaeniceps rex): With its enormous shoe-shaped bill, the Shoebill Stork, is a rare bird that draws birdwatchers from all over the world. One of the finest opportunities to see this uncommon and frightful bird is in Uganda, particularly in the vast wetlands of Mabamba Bay on the shorelines of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake.

Great Blue Turaco (Corythaeola cristata): Large and eye-catching, the Great Blue Turaco is distinguished by its vivid green and blue plumage as well as its eye-catching red face patch. It is found in Uganda’s deep forests, especially in areas like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Kibale National Park.

African Green Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri): Small and elusive, the African Green Broadbill has a striking emerald-green colour. It lives in the montane forests of the Albertine Rift, and birdwatchers can try their luck at seeing this endangered species in locations like Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer): In Uganda, one can frequently see the African Fish Eagle, a representation of strength and beauty. It is frequently spotted perched close to water bodies along lakes and rivers, ready to swoop down and hunt fish, thanks to its Black eye-catching, white, and chestnut plumage and eerie call.

Ruwenzori Turaco (Ruwenzorornis johnstoni): The Ruwenzori Turaco is a stunning bird whose plumage is a combination of green, blue, and scarlet. It is unique to the Rwenzori Mountains, sometimes known as the “Mountains of the Moon,” and its highland forests. For birdwatchers searching for uncommon species, seeing this bird in Uganda is a must.

African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus): The African Grey Parrot is a chatty and extremely intelligent bird. Its capacity to mimic human speech and noises is well known. Although these parrots are found all throughout Africa, Uganda’s woods and woodlands offer a great chance to see them in their native environment.

Marabou Stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer): The Marabou Stork is a massive bird with a naked head and neck that has a somewhat hideous appearance. By scavenging on carrion, this species—which may not be the most aesthetically pleasing—plays a crucial role in the ecology. They are frequently observed close to water and in the vicinity of trash dumps. It is the world’s bird species with the largest wingspan.

African Pygmy Kingfisher (Ispidina picta): One of the tiniest kingfisher species in Africa is the African Pygmy Kingfisher. It displays beautiful blue and orange iridescent colours despite its small size. It can be seen sitting close to water sources in the forests and woodlands of Uganda.

Yellow-billed Oxpecker (Buphagus africanus): Elephants, rhinoceroses, buffalo, and other huge mammals have a special and fascinating symbiotic relationship with the oddball Yellow-billed Oxpecker. These birds offer their hosts a helpful cleaning service by feeding on parasites that are present on the skin of the mammals.

Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill (Bycanistes subcylindricus): A massive and magnificent species of hornbill, distinguished by its commanding casque and brilliant black and white plumage.

Red-throated Bee-eater (Merops bulocki): In open woodlands, this colourful bee-eater with a striking red neck is frequently encountered perched on twigs.

Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarius): The Secretary Bird, a striking predator with long legs that inhabits Uganda’s savannas, is not a genuine raptor and easy to see on the launch cruise to the bottom of Murchison Falls.

African Pitta (Pitta angolensis): The African Pitta is an extremely colourful, shy, and difficult-to-see bird that usually inhabits Uganda’s woodland underbrush. This African Pitta breeds in Southern Tanzania and migrates north into Uganda between May and September making it one of the most beautiful Intra African migrants

Nubian Woodpecker (Campethera nubica): This woodpecker is a common sight in forested areas with its strong black and white plumage and bright red cap.

Ross’s Turaco (Musophaga rossae): This is another amazing species of turaco, distinguished by its vivid green and crimson hues.

Shelley’s Crimsonwing (Cryptospiza shelleyi): It can be difficult to locate this stunning and secretive finch because it lives in Uganda’s high-altitude woods and endemic to Albertine Rift, has a few times been sighted in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Black-headed Gonolek (Laniarius erythrogaster): In most savannah parks and environs, the Black-headed Gonolek is a vociferous and noticeable species due to its striking black and red plumage.

Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis): a familiar and common species of kingfisher that is frequently observed floating above the water before diving for fish.

African Finfoot (Podica senegalensis): Very shy duck and seen on river and lake edges, can be found in Lake Mburo National Park and on the Victoria Nile

Blue-breasted Bee-eater (Merops variegatus): a magnificent species of bee-eater with a long tail that is unusual and shimmering green and blue colours.

African Spoonbill (Platalea alba): This elegant wader is frequently observed in marshes and shallow waters thanks to its spoon-shaped bill.

African Openbill Stork (Anastomus lamelligerus): This stork is notable for its strangely formed beak with a gap, which it utilises to feed on snails and mollusks.

Hadada Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash): It is a common sight in grassy regions, where it may be easily identified by its loud and characteristic sounds.

Scarlet-chested Sunbird (Chalcomitra senegalensis):  The stunning scarlet-chested sunbird (Chalcomitra senegalensis) is a species of sunbird that is often found in gardens and along forest margins.

White-browed Robin-Chat (Cossypha heuglini): With its pale-browed The Robin-Chat is a fascinating bird to observe in the woodland understory, thanks to its striking white eyebrow and rich orange breast.

Yellow-billed Kite (Milvus aegyptius):  With its distinctive forked tail, the yellow-billed kite is a common raptor that is frequently spotted soaring over grasslands and open spaces.

Western Bar-tailed Trogon (Apaloderma vittatum): The bright and colourful Bar-tailed Trogon is a species of trogon that inhabits the woodlands of Uganda.

African Harrier-Hawk (Polyboroides typus): The African Harrier-Hawk, or Gymnogene, is a skilled raptor that specializes in breaking into nests to steal eggs and young ones.

Eastern Plantain-eater (Crinifer zonurus): A large, greenish bird with a noticeable red face patch is frequently observed in savannas and forested areas.

White-headed Saw-wing (Psalidoprocne albiceps): This is a diminutive species of swallow that may be identified by its characteristic flight pattern and white head.

African Pied Wagtail (Motacilla aguimp): It is a beautiful bird that is typically found close to sources of water. Its plumage contrasts between black and white.

Speckled Mousebird (Colius striatus): A common sight in Uganda’s forests, the Speckled Mousebird is small, loud, and social.

African Grey Hornbill (Lophoceros nasutus): a medium-sized hornbill with a call that is distinctly raucous and a peculiar curled bill.

Black Bee-eater (Merops gularis): This eye-catching bird is frequently seen sitting on telephone wires or branches. It is decorated in black, blue, and green colours.

Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura): Its male species is a magnificent bird, especially during the breeding season when its tail feathers grow out.

Orange Weaver (Ploceus aurantius): Often observed in savannas, this vivid orange weaver bird builds elaborate nests.

African Firefinch (Lagonosticta rubricata): A small, beautiful finch with crimson-red plumage and a preference for grasslands and open areas.

White-crested Turaco (Tauraco leucolophus): Another remarkable species of turaco, featuring green and red plumage and a white crest.

These represent only a few of the many attractions that Uganda’s abundant birdlife has to offer. With its astounding diversity of bird species, breathtaking scenery, and friendly people, Uganda is a great destination for both nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers. Whether tracking birds in the savannas, discovering the verdant forests, or venturing into the swamps, Uganda offers a plethora of birdwatching opportunities that ensure a fantastic experience for any avian enthusiast. To preserve this invaluable natural resource for future generations, remember to obey local laws and the environment while you go birdwatching.

Top Birdwatching sites in Uganda

Kibale National Park: Renowned for its chimpanzee tracking, Kibale is also a great place for birdwatching in Uganda, especially for forest species. The dense canopy provides a habitat for a wide range of birds, including many colourful species.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: With over 350 species of known birds, this park is a birdwatcher’s paradise, not just because of its large population of mountain gorillas. Numerous rare and endemic birds find home in the thick forests and different heights.

Murchison Falls National Park is home to a wide variety of savannah animals, raptors, and waterbirds. It is situated in the northwest of Uganda. There are great chances to see a variety of birds around Murchison Falls and the Nile River.

With almost 600 bird species identified, Queen Elizabeth National Park is a top spot for birdwatching in addition to being well-known for its varied fauna. Within the park, the Kyambura Gorge, Kazinga Channel, and Maramagambo Forest are great places to go birdwatching.

Semuliki National Park: This is a sanctuary for birdwatchers interested in endemic species of the Albertine Rift, and it is located in the western region of Uganda. There are excellent chances to see uncommon and unusual species in the Ituri Forest and Semliki River.

Lake Mburo National: Park offers a variety of birdwatching opportunities due to its combination of savannah, woodland, and wetland environments. It is a great area to see water-related birds such as the African Finfoot and Fish Eagle.

Mabira Forest Reserve: This verdant forest is conveniently accessible from the capital city and provides an opportunity to discover a range of jungle creatures, such as the Great Blue Turaco.

Recall that planning is essential for successful birding in Uganda, especially hiring knowledgeable local guides who are familiar with the rich range of birds in the nation. Whatever your level of experience, this is a fantastic chance to add incredible bird species to your bucket list. Take pleasure in the moment as you observe and recognise the wealth that Uganda possesses.