The Pearl of Africa provides shelter to over 1060 species of birds and it is ranked among the richest destinations in the world in terms of bird diversity. Uganda’s bird check list is more than half the total species recorded in Africa and has more birds per square kilometer than any other country on the African continent. The birds of Uganda can be found in a range of habitats such as the forests, swamps, agricultural lands, lakes, savannah and alpine regions.
Mabamba bay wetland is one of the most remarkable and spectacular sites for bird watching in Uganda and it is among the wetlands of international importance. Other than Murchison falls national park, Mabamba bay is the only place to spot the elusive shoebill at a close range any time of the day. It is one of the undisputed havens for the migrant Blue swallow with over 100 individuals recorded every year and this place boasts up to 260 species.
Mabamba bay also provides shelter to other four globally threatened species and other birds of regional significance such as the pallid harrier, papyrus Gonolek, White winged warbler and the blue swallow. The surveys have confirmed the presence of flocks of other species especially migrants such as gull-billed terns, whiskered terns, white winged black terns and residents such as grey headed gulls.
Other captivating species found in the marsh include good numbers of Goliath herons, spur winged, pygmy geese, malachite kingfisher, and papyrus canary, northern brown Throated weaver, Carruther’s Cisticola and a number of other birds.
Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison falls national park is the largest and one of oldest national parks in Uganda and it is home to the strongest water falls in the world where the mighty river Nile explodes through a narrow gorge and flows down to become a calm river whose banks are occupied with hippos, crocodiles, waterbucks and buffaloes. Its flora is characterized by the savannah, riverine forest and woodland.
Murchison falls national park has a number of unique bird species and every bird lover should visit this park because the birding experience in Murchison falls is deeply enhanced by the abundant wildlife and scenic landscape. The legendary shoebill is one of the most iconic birds in the park and this is the only park where one is certain of seeing the bird, which is regularly recorded along the Albert Nile, especially at the delta and amidst islands in the river.
Murchison falls national park is important for the Sudan-guinea biomes species with 14 out of 22 species recorded in the park and in this park travelers can view the 4 to 12 lake Victoria species, 11 of 44 guinea Congo forest species, 6 of 86 afro-tropical highland species and 3 of 32 Somalia Masai biome species and sometimes when the flow of the Nile is low, African skimmers gather on sand banks a few meters below the falls.
Lake Mburo National Park
Birding in Lake Mburo national park. Uganda’s smallest national park is covered by tall grass savanna dotted with Acacia and euphorbia trees. Lake Mburo national park has an extensive area of wetlands, harbors several species of mammals and a great bird population.
Travelers enjoy birding while driving through the park and some of the bird species to encounter in Lake Mburo national park include crested francolin, red necked spurfowl, Nubian woodpecker, arrow marked babler, emerald spotted wood dove, brown parrot and bare-faced go-away-bird. Northern black flycatcher, blue naped and speckled mousebird, lilac breasted and broad billed roller and many others. The best birding spots in Lake Mburo are near the swamps at Warukiri and Rwonyo. Travelers can also spot the rare African finfoot, occasional sightings of a shoebill, African fish eagle and malachite and many others on a boat cruise along Lake Mburo.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The Bwindi National Park in Western Uganda is one of Africa’s best birding destinations in the world, it was voted by the African bird club as number one in the continent, due to the number of rare bird species found in the park. Bwindi impenetrable national park has well maintained birding trails, easily accessible and navigable by the travelers.
It accommodates more than 350 bird species including 23 Albertine rift endemics of which 14 are not recorded anywhere else in the country. Some of the bird species found in this park include the African Green broadbill, Shelley’s crimsonwing, handsome francolin, mountain-masked and collared apalis, white bellied robin chat, black billed turaco, Fraser’s eagle, western bronze naped pigeon, purple breasted, blue-headed and regal sunbirds and many others.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Bird watcher’s haven, Queen Elizabeth national park provides shelter to over 600 bird species and in this park birds are easily spotted and travelers are expected to take great photos as they explore the park and its spectacular scenery dotted with abundant wildlife.
Some of the resident bird species to explore in Queen Elizabeth National park include the African mourning dove, swamp flycatcher, grey-headed kingfisher, African skimmer, malachite and pied kingfisher, white-winged terns, grey capped warbler, collared pratinvole, pin tailed whydah, martial eagle, Gabon and slender tailed nightjars, black headed Gonolek, Verreaux’s eagle owl and many others. Flamingos can be spotted at the salt lakes of Katwe and Bunyampaka.
Semuliki National Park
Semuliki national park has over 441 bird species in its riverine, forest and grassland habitats. Semuliki has Guinea-Congo biome species and they are found in the park’s lowland forest. Other bird species to look out for include Black dwarf hornbill, Nkulengu rail, piping hornbill, African Miculet, Maxwell’s black weaver, blue billed Malimbe, yellow throated cuckoo, dwarf honeyguide, great blue and ross’s turaco, purple breasted sunbird, orange weaver, white-crested hornbill, red billed dwarf hornbill and many others.
Uganda generally is gifted with nature so it has very many birding spots, some are protected and others are not protected. Other important birding areas in Uganda include Kibale national park, Mgahinga national park, Budongo forest, Rwenzori mountains national park and many others.