Uganda Birding Safari

Birding is a hobby activity where birds are observed for recreation and to enjoy their melody sounds. This entails traveling, outdoors, and field skills.

Uganda is home to a variety of magnificent birds to watch, unique bird behaviors to observe, and variations in bird songs to enjoy. It is both engrossing and relaxing to witness it for your self-studies, appreciate and protect their habitats.

Who is a birder and how is it different from a bird watcher? To define birding, think about people who are dedicated enough to put aside money for birding equipment and trips.
Correspondingly, birders tend to be more well-versed in details aside from visual and aural identification, including population distribution, migratory patterns, and other trivia.

Bird watching refers to watching birds from the comfort of one’s own home, or at most, in a nearby local park.
Bird watchers are avian enthusiasts and invest minimally in the hobby. As such, their knowledge and species list are not as extensive. It may be thought of as the beginner level.

Birding is a hobby to appreciate birds in their natural habitat and to feed the need to see more of them and learn more about them.

Bird twitching. It involves planning long-distance trips to see a particular bird and tick it off their list. To do this successfully requires intense research on the target, so you can expect twitchers to be extremely knowledgeable.

A twitcher is a bird watcher who sets her sights on a target bird and does everything to observe it. This often involves extensive travel and expense.

Types of birding

Local birding

Local birding entails visiting nearby bird spotting sites such as natural parks or reserves. This entails more planning, more knowledge of local birds, and honing field skills. Check if there’s a local birding club you can join so you can meet like-minded people from who you can learn.

Birding travel

This is bird twitching, where you travel long distances to see particular birds. You expand your species list with every trip and experience birding in different habitats.
At this level of bird watching, ornithology knowledge is helpful. This helps you better appreciate the differences between avian species in different parts of the world.

Backyard birding

If you are even mildly interested in birds, you’ve probably already watched them from your backyard.
This is also called “armchair birding”. You can passively watch whatever bird happens to pass by, or actively attract birds by installing feeders and baths.
This is a convenient and cheap option, but the species you see are quite limited.

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What do you need to go on a birding safari in Uganda?

The most basic equipment is a pair of binoculars, a field guide, and a notebook to record observations. Mobile phone apps may stand in as recording devices.

Where to go for a birding safari in Uganda

Mabamba Swamp

The Mabamba Bay Wetland found west of Entebbe, across Lake Victoria is a great spot for a bird-watching safari in Uganda mainly because it is home to rare bird species like the Shoebill, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, and Blue Swallow among others. Here is more about the Mabamba Bay Shoebill Stork Sighting.

Birding excursions in Uganda often include visiting the Mabamba wetland and the birding excursion is done on the canoes through small channels of marsh-filled water and lagoons.

The Shoebill can be spotted at any time either at Mabamba Bay Wetland or Murchison Falls. The wetland is a habitat for around 300 bird species recorded including the Pallid Harrier, Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler, and the Blue Swallow.

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Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest National Park and is named after the mighty Murchison Falls where large volumes of River Nile water are forced through a narrow gorge of 7 meters width before plunging about 45 meters downstream, creating one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world.

About 450 bird species have been recorded in Murchison Falls National Park and these can best be seen during a wildlife game drive through the park or when on a boat cruise at the bottom of the Murchison Falls. Bird species in Murchison Falls National Park include the Goliath Heron, Swamp Flycatcher, Abyssinian Ground Horn Bill, Red-throated Bee Eater, Northern Red Bishop, African Quail Finch, and Giant Kingfishers among many others.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Although mountain gorilla tracking is more popular in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, bird watching comes at a close second due to the abundance of rare species of birds.

About 350 species of birds can be found in Bwindi and these include the Black-billed Turaco, African Green Broadbill, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Fraser’s Eagle, Handsome Francolin, Collared Apalis, and White-bellied Robin Chat among many others.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The park is located in the Southwestern part of Uganda, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to about 180 bird species.

In addition to tracking the Nyakagezi Gorilla Family in Mgahinga, tourists can take part in bird watching.
The bird species in Mgahinga National Park include Cape Robin, White-starred Robin, Brown Woodland Warbler, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, White-starred Robin, Rwenzori Batis, Greater Double-collared Sunbirds, Archer’s Robin-Chat among many others.

Kibale national park

With over 375 species of birds, Kibale Forest National Park is one of the best bird-watching destinations in Uganda. In addition to chimpanzee tracking, bird watching is also popular due to the dense vegetation cover that favors bird life.

Bird species found in Kibale Forest National Park include Red-chested Owlet, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Crowned Eagle, Little Greenbul, Black Bee-eater, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Grey-throated Flycatcher, White-naped Pigeon among many others. Kibale Forest is not only home to primates but is also one of the 10 Best Birding Spots in Uganda.

Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of Uganda’s most visited National Parks and is home to vast animal and bird species.

With over 600 bird species, Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the best birding spots paradises where birding enthusiasts can encounter even the rarest bird species.
Most of these bird species can be encountered while on a wildlife game drive through the park or while on a boat cruise at Kazinga Channel.

Bird species in Queen Elizabeth National Park include Swamp Flycatcher, African Skimmer, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Black-headed Gonolek, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Sedge Warbler, White-winged Terns, Grey-capped Warbler, Collared Pratincole, Martial Eagle, Gabon and Slender-tailed Nightjars among others.

Recommended Safaris

Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park is one of the 10 Best Birding Spots in Uganda. In addition to being home to plenty of Zebras, Lake Mburo National Park is also home to about 351 bird species, making it one of the 10 best birding spots in Uganda.

The park is the only one where horseback riding safaris in Uganda can be done and some bird species can be spotted during horseback riding. Bird species in Lake Mburo National Park include Nubian Woodpecker, Trilling Cisticola, Bee-eaters, Cheeky Bronze-tailed Starling, Crested Francolin, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Brown Parrot, African Fish Eagle, Red-necked Spurfowl among others.

Semuliki National Park

Semuliki is located in Western Uganda in the Albertine Rift Valley, it is one of the 10 best birding spots in Uganda and is well known as the Birders Haven.

There are about 441 bird species in Semuliki’s riverine forest and these include; Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Blue-billed Malimbe, Yellow-throated Nicator, Black Dwarf Hornbill, Nkulengu Rail, Piping Hornbill, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Dwarf Honeyguide, Great Blue Turaco, Purple-breasted Sunbird among others.
The famous Sempaya Hotsprings are found in Semuliki National Park.

Budongo Forest

Budogo forest lies at the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley in Murchison Falls National Park and is home to more than 350 bird species.

The forest is also a popular destination for Chimpanzee Tracking.
The bird species in the Budongo forest include the Blue-breasted Kingfisher, African Dwarf Kingfisher, Cassin’s Spine Tail, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Ituri Batis, and Nahan’s Francolin among others.

Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Mount Rwenzori National Park is home to over 177 bird species, most of which can be spotted while hiking the Rwenzori Mountains.

Bird species in Rwenzori Mountains National Park include Rwenzori Turaco, Blue-headed Sunbird, Golden-winged Sunbird, White-starred Robin, Long-eared Owl, Archers’ Robin-chat, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Slender-billed Starling among others.

The best time to do birding in Uganda

Birding can be done throughout the year but generally, the best time to do birding is June, September to December because of the favorable dry weather conditions.

In conclusion.

Uganda is a remarkable avian destination having a medley of bird species with melody sounds spotted in the several savannas, tropical forests parks, and farmlands that offer an exceptional beyond extraordinary birding experience.

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About the Author

Tony Kizito

Tony is an enthusiastic and self-motivated tour Consultant with over 5 years in delivering professional tailor-made Trips across East Africa. I am keen to offer strong attention to detail, understand the travelers' needs and then craft unforgettable African safari experience.

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