Uganda Big Birding Day     

Uganda is regarded as Africa’s best birding destination for birders and other nature enthusiasts. With over 1,000 species of birds mainly in large well protected wilderness areas, a birding trip to Uganda is the most leisurely in the east and central tropical birding destinations. Uganda has more bird species per square kilometer than any other country in Africa. Roughly the same size as the UK, Uganda can boast a national list of more than 1008 species (Uganda Bird Atlas by Carswell et al, 2005). This figure represents more than half the bird species that can be found in the whole of Africa. The key to Uganda’s diversity is its variety of habitats, which include arid, semi-dessert, savannahs, lowland and montane rain forests, wetlands, volcanoes and an Afro-alpine zone. These are all interesting habitats in terms of structure and content. So it would be interesting to know how many species out of the total country list could be recorded on a 1day list if there was to be birding in all these habitat types on that particular day.

Birds are an important part of our ecosystems. They are universal, penetrating the remotest deserts, oceans and mountains on earth. They are numerous, widely distributed, easily observed and form a vital part of our natural heritage. In Uganda there are over 1,000 species of birds which is almost the same number as the whole of Europe supports. Uganda has more species than any other country in Africa and compares very well with the top countries in South America. However, very few Ugandans are aware of this rich diversity of birds present in this country. For this reason, Nature Uganda would like to improve this awareness through the Uganda big birding day and also to promote avi-conservation and avi-tourism.

Avi-tourism is a recreational activity done by tourists and is commonly known as bird watching. It is one of the products and services of ecotourism and contributes significantly to conservation and as well as economic growth. For example, avi-tourism is proving to be one of Bird Life South Africa’s most powerful conservation tools. Tourism has outperformed all other sectors in South Africa’s economy, with two popular ‘Birding Routes generating an estimated US$6.4 million annually for local people. Although avi-tourism is developing in Uganda it is mainly by tourists and very few locals. For this reason, we hope that the Uganda big birding day will create more awareness and thus improve on local tourism.

How the birding is organized

The event includes guided nature walks throughout the country. We have expert ornithologists and/or bird guides from among Nature Uganda membership and Uganda Bird Guides Club (UBGC) who lead participants at various locations to a competition on Bird watching throughout the country. The event is a 24 hour bird watching contest throughout the country. It involves selecting groups each with at least 2 members who are experienced bird watchers/guides to confirm the species identification. The activity aims at: updating the species list for birds in Uganda and promoting avian tourism in Uganda. This activity is done in collaboration with STAR-Uganda, UBGC, Tourism Uganda, UWA, NFA, UTA, UCOTA, UHOA and Hon. Wardens among others.

The proposed sites for these nature walks include the following;

National parks, forest reserves and game reserves

Selected forest reserves like Budongo forest reserve, Mabira forest reserve

Selected Ramsar sites like Lutembe and Mabamba

These sites are among the Important Bird Areas of Uganda and are well known for the diversity of birds that are found there. These also represent the different vegetation types of Uganda and thus different species in different habitats will be known.

Your participation in this festival geared towards tourism development and conservation of our Pearl has immense value to biodiversity and humanity.

Other big birding sites                     

Gulu University, Kasohya Kitomi Forest Reserve-Bushenyi, Mbale/ Kibimba, Echuya Forest Reserve – Kabale, Entebbe Peninsula       , Mabamba/ Makanaga Bays, Kawanda-Namulonge- Gayaza, Mabira Forest Reserve, Mbarara University-Mbarara, Lutembe Bay, Park Alexander, Katonga Wildlife Reserve, Nabajjuzi-Masaka, Makerere  University, Musambwa Islands, Bahai Temple, Opeta-Katakwi, Rwenzori Bottling Company-Namanve, Katomi kingdom hotel.