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Tips

5 Reasons Why You Should Go Birding in Uganda

In the heart of Eastern Africa, Uganda harbors unique tropical forests, savannah, Africa’s highest mountains and an incredible amount of wildlife. It is a land of endless potential for the wildlife enthusiast. From great herds of elephants of the open savannah to an incredible abundance of birdlife, from the depths of a tropical rainforest to the depths of Lake Victoria and river Nile teeming with fish, Uganda is a treasure trove of natural wonders. Here are some of the top reasons to as to why you should go birding in Uganda;

1. Though Uganda is not a large country, it surprisingly lays claim to one of the largest bird lists of any country in the world. The country’s dramatically diverse geography has resulted in an enormous range of natural habitats, making Uganda one of the natural wonders of the world. Famous worldwide for its great friendly people and cultural centers, Uganda is also a stunningly diverse destination for birding and natural history. Uganda could keep a birder busy for a lifetime, much less a few years and that’s why many travelers have opted to take safaris in Uganda that as well feature birding, natural history and game viewing.

2. A remarkable composition of habitats in a relatively condensed area includes islands, mountains, forests, woodlands, wetlands and savannah. With 11% of the world’s species and over half of all bird species in Africa -over 1000 different varieties, Uganda’s birding is one of the best in the world. What a haven for birders and magnificent birds!

3. You are welcome to Uganda as it is safe and comfortable for travelers with excellent food and accommodation. Africa adventure safaris have more comprehensive tours, allowing time to properly see all species, including the more common and widespread birds that may be lifers for birders yet ignored by other tour operators. There are both migrant and breeding birds a person could reasonably expect to see in a sensible, fun designed itinerary to produce many special and exotic species of birds. Migrant birds are present from November to April. Many other sought-after birds are easily seen on several tours, and there are excellent chances to observe a number of classic and scarce tropical birds.

4. It holds some of the most remarkable birding sights to be seen anywhere! Come with us and you will bear witness to an array of unbelievable spectacles. From the world’s biggest bird (the Ostrich) to the endemic birds like Fox’s weaver and Stuhlmann’s double-collared sunbird to the most numerous of all birds , Uganda has a truly impressive variety and quantity (over 1000 species recorded) of bird species. Birding is superb in Uganda’s greatest wilderness areas including Queen Elizabeth national park, Kibale forest national park, Bwindi impenetrable, around Kampala city where over 300 bird species can be cited and all other protected areas of Uganda including swamps.

5. Although Uganda has only two Endemic birds (Fox’s weaver and Stuhlmann’s double-collared sunbird), 23 Albertine Endemics occur here and are difficult or even impossible to find somewhere else including rare and localized Shoebill, rare and near-endemic Red-throated alethe, Black-headed lapwing, African jacana, Yellow-throated long claw, African green broadbill, Dwarf Honey guide, Archer’s robin-chat, Blue-headed sunbird, Chapin’s flycatcher, Hartlaub’s turaco, Ruwenzori Batis, Ruwenzori Nightjar, Ruwenzori Turaco and Yellow-eyed black flycatcher. Uganda’s birding is good all-year round so you can visit any time of the year!

 

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Safari Ideas Where to Go

Go Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Though Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is most renowned for gorilla trekking, it is one of the best place to go birding in Uganda.

Bwindi impenetrable tropical rain forest is one of the very rich biodiversity areas in Africa. Rich in both fauna and flora, the bio-diversity of this ancient forest cannot easily be found elsewhere in the world. This park is known to shelter 120 mammals, primate species such as the rare and endangered mountain gorillas, baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. There are around 350 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.

Birding Trails

The park has two prominent sites for birding. Many birders start their birding experience from the Buhoma side, an area with great opportunities to see various Albertine Rift endemics. The celebrity in this area is the Short-tailed Warbler that cannot easily be found elsewhere in Africa. Other activities within the Buhoma area include mountain biking and nature walks to waterfalls and parts of the forest.

The bamboo trail is another amazing trail to go birding in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. A trek along this trail can trek for a 6 hour bamboo trail to Ruhija and leading to Rwamunyoni Peak. At 2,607m, the Rwamunyoni Peak is the highest point in the park and notable for good birding.

Also of interest to birders is the three-hour trail descending to Mubwindi swamp along which one could find the endemic and localized bird that include the African Green Broadbill, Grauer’s (African Green), Broadbill the beautiful regal sunbird and Archers Robin Chat. Mubwindi swamp at an elevated of 2050m/6725ft holds Dwarf Honey guide, Stripe breasted Tit, Rwenzori Apalis and African Hill Babbler sometimes treated as a separate species, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, the rare and localized Grauer’s scrub warbler and Caruthers’ Cisticola, including very difficult to see species Fraser’s eagle owl and Rwenzori double collared sunbird.

Other birds to come across on a birding tour in Bwindi Forest include the green broad bill, Grauer’s Rush warbler, Purple breasted, blue headed and Regal sun birds, Grauer’s Broadbills, Archers Robin Chat, eastern Mountain Green bul, Strange weaver, black headed waxbill, Barstuhlmanns starling, and luehders bush shrike and handsome Francolin Montane Nightjar. An insight to others travelers, birding experience to these sites is a guarantee.

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Safari Ideas

Exciting Uganda Safari Deals for 2018

Uganda celebrates gorilla tourism through conservation and sustainable travel across the globe  every year but for those planning to visit the country in 2018 , the unspeakable joy is that there is no gorilla permit price increase in all gorilla tracking parks; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Park.

The two mountain gorilla homes in south western Uganda have become known as great wild adventure spots in Africa and worldwide. A few months ago Rwanda increased its gorillas permits from US$750 to US$1500 changing the country travel trend from being a cheap gorilla safari destination to Luxury gorilla safari destinations for reasons and conservation and community development.

This somehow worried tourists with plans of tracking mountain gorillas in 2018 in Africa. However, Uganda gorilla permit price stability changes the all scenario and joy fills up the lives for many travelers to Africa. Uganda gorilla permits for 2018 go for US$600 per trek for all months of the year with discount offers in low season. Travelers will still secure gorilla permits at only US$450 per trek during the month of April, May and November.

If your plans where initially to fly to Rwanda-Kigali international Airport, it can still work and you connect to Uganda for gorilla tracking and later fly out from Kigali international Airport. This travel arrangement offers travelers an opportunity to explore the beautiful land of thousand hills as wells that of Uganda the Pearl of Africa.

Uganda hosts exciting gorilla safari experiences in both Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga national park which is conducted every day in all the parks. Gorilla safaris in Uganda are best for all budgets and one can either see mountain gorillas in their home on budget or luxury gorilla safari tour. The experience of gorilla safaris in Uganda is just same like that of Rwanda  with a true fact that whoever tracks mountain gorillas get changed with various memories of  the beautiful jungle creatures.

Trekking gorillas is much more than taking a forest walk through the thick forest jungle and later meet up with gorillas .A lot can be experienced and enjoyed –the reason for many travelers who have ever seen the gorillas to describe the experience as “life changing encounter” and worth every effort and penny”.

Like any other mountain gorilla tracking destination, one must have a gorilla permit to track gorillas in Uganda. Booking gorilla permits can be done through a tour agent responsible for organizing your gorilla safari tour or directly at the park management head offices in Kampala(UWA).However, its has always been very easy and flexible to reserve your gorilla permit with a tour agent.

The best time to track endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda is all year with a peak season from June-October and December to March. However, those who chose to visit the country during April, May and November enjoy more benefits on safari because they don’t only carry home huge memories of the unique gorillas but also save much for their next vacation. However, it’s a grantee to see mountain gorillas in Uganda on a single trek any time of the year but going for double trekking is a choice and open for every traveler to the country. Tourists are rewarded with gorilla certificates after the trek a reward gift that confirms that you made it successful to the land of mountain gorillas.

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Uganda Birds

5 Unique Birds to See on a Birding Safari in Uganda

Uganda is known as Africa’s premier birding destination with the list of birds found in the country topping 1000, most of these birds live only in these tropical forests with the are sightings being described as mythical while it’s believed that some of the birds living in the remote forests of Uganda may not even be classified as of yet. These birds have greatly attracted many people to come for safaris to Uganda.

Shoebill Stork

The shoebill is one of the most attractive birds in Uganda and is endemic to Africa and the birders from around the globe flock to Uganda to catch a rare glimpse of this clumsy giant, the type of bird was not protected and its egg were also frequently from the nets.

Green Breasted Pitta

The green breasted pitta is also a difficult bird to find despite its relatively common status in the Central African countries. It lives a well camouflaged in the lowland tropical forest and photographing some of these little guys is a good dream. Another is the African Green Broadbill and this can only be seen in two places in the world, I the Itombwe mountains of DRC and Uganda in Bwindi Forest. The specie is declining due to loss of its habitat from the forest clearing and degradation, this bird species has greatly attracted many tourists for Uganda safaris.

Great Bule Turaco

The great Blue Turaco and the white crested Turaco are some of the largest, most exquisite birds which are found in Uganda. These birds are actively hunted their meat and the feathers are liked as high commodities which has decreased their numbers. Shelley’s crimson wing is one of the world’s rarest birds and can be found on most bird bucket lists. They live in a thin trip of the mountains and the volcanoes which are known as the Albertine Rift which border Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic republic of Congo.

Winged Nightjar

The standard winged nightjar is a bird characterized by the central flight feathers which appear during the breeding season on the male. It also a dream come true to view these birds during this short time span when their feathers which can be stretched up to 38m in length. The short tailed warbler can also be found in Uganda’s forest undergrowth while these forests of the DRC and Rwanda are also home to this camouflaged species. In addition, there is the Doherty’s Bush shrike which is found in the subtropical montane forests and the moist shrubs of central Africa. These are brightly colored birds and are one of the more common birds seen in Uganda and their population levels are table in most parts where they are found.

Bar Tailed Trogon

The bar tailed Trogon is a beautiful medium sized bird which lives in high altitude forests and has a large range throughout central and southern Africa although it’s rarely seen. Finally is the black breasted barbet which is seen by very few individuals and is highly sought after by the bird watchers. It tends to live in the areas of conflict and it rarely seen by the tourist who come for safari tours to Uganda.

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Tips

Finding the Right Binoculars

A good pair of bird watching binoculars is definitely a must if you are into bird watching. This is because this will help you view and observe birds better. For beginners, a good pair of binoculars is really one of the basic tools they need in order to get the hang of the activity. Aside from helping them see birds closely and clearly, a pair of bird watching binoculars will also help them to adjust in viewing moving birds.

Buying a good pair of binoculars

Bird watching is one of those activities that entail patience and keen observation. This is because you don’t need to do anything but to watch avian creatures in the horizon and do the thing they love the most—flying.

If you are new into bird watching, the first thing that you need to pay attention to is having a good pair of binoculars. In buying binoculars for bird watching, the major consideration should be the quality of the lens installed in it. The lens should provide you the best quality of image possible, no any distortions in the viewfinder, and should present the best color of the object being observed.

The average cost of a good pair of bird watching binoculars is around $500 to $1000 depending on the brand, size, and quality of lens installed in it. For starters, you really need not buy so expensive binoculars. To help you get the best binocular for your bird watching, here are some helpful tips for you:

1. Consider its magnification
This is very important because it will enable you to see the birds clearly. When looking for a pair of binoculars, choose those that have minimum magnification of 7×35. But if you can afford to buy binoculars with larger magnification such as those with multiples of 8x, 9x, up to 10x, it is better because these can definitely give you a larger image of the bird being watched.

Always keep in mind that a larger lens gets more amount of light, thus, can provide you an image that is sharper and clearer. (TIP: Binoculars with higher magnification tend to be heavier. It is best to look for a pair of binocular with high magnification but made of light materials so you can carry it.)

2. Check its flexibility
The flexibility of the binoculars can be tested if you move its barrels. This is very important so you won’t have difficulties in holding it the way you want to. Make sure that the barrels are not tight so you don’t have to worry that it will break easily.

3. Test its focus
Most binoculars will not focus clearly when you test it inside the store because the environment tends to be dim. If you want to make sure that the binocular can focus clearly, try focusing it on a bright side of the room. If it has good focus, it will easily focus on the subject in sight. While checking the focus, you should also check if there are distortions in the image. If there is, don’t buy it because it is of poor quality.

4. Pay attention to its exit pupil
This should also be a major consideration because this will determine if you will see things clearly. The exit pupil refers to the diameter seen on the image once it leaves the lens’ eyepiece. The exit pupil should always be bigger that the eyes of your pupil because the image will appear dark. The basic exit pupil should at least be 4 mm or higher to get the brightest image possible.

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Safari Ideas

A trip to Watch Birds and Gorillas in Africa

One of the classic birding experience in Uganda or Rwanda is to combine gorilla tracking and bird watching on a safari holiday. Combining the experience of tracking the mountain gorillas in the beautiful Bwindi Impenetrable forest and birding is one of the most amazing wildlife experience you can ever take. Nothing will ever prepare you for the first glimpse or the sound of the silver back pounding its chest amidst the dense undergrowth on a gorilla trek within Uganda or Rwanda. The excitement kicks in when start your gorilla trekking trip into the tropical rain forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park or Volcanoes National Park and you get up close to the imposing and magnificent figure of a silverback and it’s all baby gorillas peeking through leaves or hiding behind their mothers. When these forest dwellers sense that all is well they will start showing off by swinging, twisting, turning and somersaulting all for your entertainment.

These forests also host various birds including endemics that cannot be found in any other destination. There are about 350 bird species, with 14 bird species not recorded anywhere else in Uganda. in addition there are 23 birds that are endemic to the Albertine Rift and several migratory birds that are present during the months of November to April.

Gorilla permits will set you back as they cost US$600 but don’t think twice about going out for this genuine once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Keep in mind that a portion of the fee goes to the park and gorilla conservation initiatives, helping to ensure their survival among us!

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Safari Ideas

Go Gorilla Trekking and Birding in Uganda

A tiny landlocked country supporting more than 1000 species, Uganda deserves its reputation as “birders’ Eden”. A short trip here to soak up the bizarre and mind-blowing Shoebills at Murchison Falls, or Albertine Rift endemics at Bwindi National Park, is incredibly rewarding, while the chance to come face to face with Africa’s most noble beast, the mountain gorillas, is probably the most touching experience any wildlife enthusiast could hope for. Uganda is a superb destination for rain forest fanatics and those in search of the rare and elusive gorillas.

In terms of size, Uganda is the richest country in Africa for birds. It has an excellent infrastructure and a great diversity of habitats, from the papyrus-fringed swamps of the Lake Victoria Basin, through both lowland and highland forests of the Albertine Rift and north to the Guinea Savannah. Uganda could soon rival Kenya as the most visited country in Africa. Eco-tourism has been positively encouraged for the last decade. Below is a typical tour that includes both gorilla trekking and bird watching in the Pearl of Africa.

A PRIVATE GORILLA SAFARI ITENERARY

Day 1:Kampala – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

On arrival at Entebbe International airport, your private Charter plane will fly you to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Bwindi is home to the few remaining mountain gorillas. Bird life and primate life in Bwindi is quite superb, and there is an incredible variety of flora. Bwindi is the Bird watchers haven! It holds 348 species of birds and supports 24 of 26 Albertine Rift Endemics that occur in Uganda; and seven red data book species. Once continuous with the forests of the Virunga Volcanoes (Dian Fossey’s stomping ground), Bwindi is now an ecological island, surrounded by cultivation on the rich volcanic soils.

Should you have the energy this afternoon, take a guided walk on the Munyaga River trail, which is an ideal short walk. This trail leads to three delightful crystal clear waterfalls, and there is a profusion of tree ferns, epithytic ferns, orchids and Bwindi’s colourful array of butterflies. Here you may also see birds and primates from the forest edge. Overnight at Gorilla Forest camp/ or Volcanoes camp (FB)

Day 2: Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Forest

You will rise relatively early for a hearty breakfast to give you the energy needed for gorilla tracking. Report to the ranger station at 08.00 am where the guides will take you through the bush, slashing at the undergrowth, parting thick creepers, to track gorillas. This trek can take from half an hour to five hours so a reasonable degree of fitness is required as well as a sturdy pair of walking shoes. You sit in the forest among the gorillas listening to them grumble at each other and marvel at the sheer size of the dominant male, the silverback. It is amazing to think that there are only 650 or so of these creatures left in the world!

If you have the afternoon free, how about a guided village walk – see how the Ugandans live, visit a local bar and meet the local medicine man! Overnight at Gorilla Forest Camp or Volcanoes camp (FB)

Day 3: Return to Bwindi Forest

Following a relaxed breakfast your guide will drive you to the Kayonza airstrip where you will you will meet your private charter to Entebbe International airport. A guide / representative will meet you on your arrival and show you to your outbound flight.

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Uganda Birds

The Intelligent Crows of Lake Nabugabo

More popular with Kampala weekenders, this 25km squared lake is nevertheless an excellent place to rest up for a day or two ,with its bilharzia-free beaches that are serviced regularly and affordable tranquil resorts. Situated only 20km East of Masaka, Lake Nabugabo is one of those places in Uganda where the copied crows(corvus albus) are found.These birds that cannot live in Tropical forests are easy to see in Uganda mainly in Villages,towns and plains.

At the lake,these birds stay in a flock or murder( a group of crows) as they hunt for food from one end to another.The ability to distinguish individual humans by recognizing facial features,makes them one of the most intelligent birds in the world.They can also make tools that they need to use in their day-to-day activities like the baits that are used for catching fish. As many birds struggle looking for food,these intelligent birds store food for future use.

One unique type of crows is the New Caledonian Crow which can make tools that are used in its serch for food. Some of the tools that these birds make are the knives cut from stiff leaves and stiff stalks of grass.They also drop hard nuts on the ground which they cannot crack into streets and wait for the cars to crack for them. One special attribute about crows is that they can eat anything including;poisonous frogs-they remove the poisonous organs and eat other parts, fruits,nuts ,earthworms,eggs,seeds,mice nestling and other birds.

Apart from these intelligent crows,there are other birds at the lake like the broad-billed roller,Ross’s turaco,black-and-white horn-bill,weaver birds,African fish eagle and a variety of sun birds. And animals such as squirrels that are found in the forest patches that line the lakeshore, interspersed with grassy clearings and cultivated small holdings. Others are vervet monkeys and monitor lizards,and can easily be explored along several roads and footpaths

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Where to Go

Top 5 Best Birding Destinations in Rwanda

There’s something to be said for travelling in summer or winter to any destination around the world but for bird watching in Africa have a lot to say like the different bird species spotted in different places, cheap accommodation, comfortable food, less crowded destinations and several trip special moments. Some travelers enjoy getting away from it all while others choose to immerse themselves in the local culture and traditions of the area they visit. If you’re the latter, then you’ll be pleased to know the main birding watching destination of Rwanda which make you spot most of the bird species listed before the trip.

Being a fascinating destination for bird watching activities, Rwanda alone boasts 670 bird species in a country small as Belgium. On a safari in Rwanda, some of the highlights of your trip will include the fabulous shoebill, Great blur turaco, Purple-bleasted Sunbird, Red-faced Barbet, Little Bee Eater, Collared Apalis, and Fraser’s Eagle Owl. Rwanda’s national parks are the main birding destinations with 100s of birds ready to be spotted by park visitors.

Akagera National park

North east of Rwanda along the border of Tanzania is where you can find the Akagera national park a park named after Akagera River a breath taking place and the most desired feature of the park.The park reflects a wide variety including 44 species of raptors the grey hornbill, crested barbet, Falco naumanni, black headed gonalek, heuglin’s robin-chat, gorgeous lilac-breasted roller, Palearctic migrants and others which had been recorded. Besides bird watching is on the prominent activities of the park a famed point for many water birds in the East African region. Boat rides and Game drives are things which go hand in hand with birding and plenty of animal species including buffalo, elephants, hippos, zebra, crocodiles, bush baby and many other mammal species are viewed. Guests also take advantage of the gentle hills blending with beautiful lowland swamps and water bodies giving way to nice photo captions of the parks beauty.

Nyungwe forest national park

Nyungwe forest is not only the Chimpanzee play ground but also a birding paradise of Rwanda.Visitors to the beautiful forest get a chance to spot over 300 bird species including Albertine Rift endemics (notable targets include Red-collared Babbler, Kungwe Apalis, Shelley’s Crimsonwing and Albertine Owlet).Birding guests also view different primate species for free since they are also sighted during the bird watching session in the the forest. If time permits don’t forget to be part of the Forest Conopy walk an activity which make you appreciate nature and its surrounding. Nyungwe shouldn’t miss out on your visit & if circumstances don’t permit find time again in the near future and return back to view over 13 species of primate, 300 bird species, 1068 plant species, 85 mammal species, 32 amphibian and 38 reptile species among others.

Still to come include Volcanoes national park, Rugezi Swamp, Akanyaru, Nyabarongo and Cyamudongo.Lake kivu etc.Trust me you will see many bird species in different unique remarkable birding destinations in Rwanda .This is because Rwanda is located in the Albertine Rift and is also blessed with the green dense forests. Even in the Kigali city one can spot the African Reed Warbler and Great Sedge Warbler, the Winding Cisticola as well as the Common Waxbill, Grey-backed Fiscal, Tropical Boubou, Red-rumped and Mosque Swallows, African Spoonbill, Yellow-billed Stork, Great White Pelican, Common Moorhens, Grosbeak Weaver, Grey Heron, Yellow-backed (Black-headed) Weavers, and the Pied Kingfisher at Lake Nyarutarama near the golf course. Therefore always start your Rwanda birding trip right from Kigali to the parks which is rewarding to birders.

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Tips

Bird Watching for Children – Tips to Getting Started

Bird watching for children is one of the activities that can help instill the value and love for animals on their young minds. Aside from teaching them the importance of taking good care of animals, bird watching for children can also be a great of spending quality time with them. This activity is also great for children because it can teach them to become nature-wise and van teach them teach them good manners such as respect for animals.

What you need to Know

Before you go bird watching with children, make sure that you yourself have had a first-hand experience on the activity. What you can do is search on the Internet what are the best places to bird watching with children. Once you found the best one or the nearest one in your area, take a time off to visit it before bring your children there.

Check if the entire area is safe for children. If you are having doubts about children safety, it is best to talk to the administrator of the park or the preserve to make sure that they have enough facilities to take care of kids. Also, ask what are the things that you need to bring when going there.

Also check how much are the fees, how many kids are allowed to bird watch, and what are the ideal ages for bird watching. When everything is done and you are confident that your child will be safe while bird watching, book a tour date while you’re there.

On the date of the bird watching activity, make sure that you bring the following:

1. A good pair of binoculars for kids. This is very important because the center might not have enough binoculars for the visitors. To ensure that the kids can use something, grab a good yet cheap pair of binoculars when you are in the department store.

2. A bird book or field guide. Although most of the bird parks offer booklet that contain information on the birds that can be seen there, it is best to bring a book guide on your own just in case they don’t have one. The book guide can help your kids identify the common birds in the area and can help them in describing the birds based on their appearance, color, size, and shape.

3. Bottled water and snacks. Since kids tend to get hungry often, it is best if you bring lots of bottled water and handy snack packs just in case no convenient store is near the area.

4. First aid kit. This should always be a must whenever you go out with your kids because they can be so accident-prone. Make sure that you include a first aid kit in your child’s backpack to make sure that you can tend to the wound or scratch immediately.

5. A camera. This is also a “must” when going out with kids because it can preserve the memories with your kids. Having a handy camera can enable you take as many pictures of your kids during the tour. You can also ask your kids to take as many photos as they can of the birds that they see.

6. A notebook or sketchpad with pens or pencils. One of the benefits of bird watching for children is that it encourages them to jot down their observations. These can also be helpful to artistically-inclined children because it can encourage them to draw the birds that they see.