Uganda is arguably the most attractive country in Africa to bird watchers ( tour), not only to because of the unusually number of species recorded within its borders, but also because it offers easy access to several bird-rich habitats that are difficult to reach else where. Uganda’s remarkable avian diversity-1,008 species recorded in an area similar to that of Great Britain can be attributed to its location at a transitional point between the East African savanna, the West African rainforest and the semi-desert of the north.
The key to Uganda’s diversity is its variety of habitats: arid semi-dessert, rich savannahs, lowland and montane rainforests, vast wetlands, volcanoes and an Afro-alpine zone. Uganda covers an altitude from 650 to 5000m.
Analytical of Uganda’s intermediary position is the fact that only one bird is endemic to the country, the rather ordinary Fox’s weaver. However, if you take only East Africa into consideration, then approximately 150 bird species (more than 10% of the regional checklists) are found only in Uganda. This list includes seven of the 20 horn-bill species recorded in the region, five out of 14 honey guides, seven out of 20 hornbill species recorded in the region, five out of 20 bush family as well as 13 members of the thrush family, 11 warblers, ten flycatchers, eight sun birds, eight weavers, eight finches, four tinker birds, four pigeons, 3 kingfishers, 3 sparrow hawks, 3 cuckoos and 3 nightjars.
Most of these Uganda’s specials are West African and Congolese forest birds that should be very difficult to see elsewhere for the simple reason that the other countries in which they occur are poorly developed for Tourism. The rain forests of Western Uganda must be seen as the country’s most important bird habitat, and that is the greatest interest to birdwatchers( bird watching), particularly if they are already familiar with typical East African birds. The most alluring forests in Uganda with localized species is Semliki, Budongo Forest, Kibale Forest and Bwindi Forest. However, Kibale is the Uganda’s spot for forest birds and the nearby Magombe swamp. Even the relatively tame botanical gardens in Entebbe will throw up several interesting species.
Therefore you want to see or watch a wide range of birds in Uganda for tour enthusiasts, try to visit Entebbe (water and forest birds), Lake Mburo (water and acacia associated birds), Queen Elizabeth (Over 600 species are recorded), Murchison Falls (a best place in East Africa to see the Papyrus-associated shoe-bill) and Kidepo (over 50 raptors recorded ).
BIRDING SAFARIS IN UGANDA
Uganda’s tour companies offer several birding safaris in Uganda. below are the sample Uganda Birding Tours. Click for detailed safari itineraries:
BELOW IS A LIST OF SOME OF THE BIRD SPECIES IN UGANDA
- Ostrich, It the World’s largest bird and its restricted to Kidepo Valley National Park.
- Pelicans, these are water birds and commonly found in Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
- African darter, it’s a snake bird with an elongated rufus neck extended in a serpentine fashion.
- Goliath heron, this commonly seen during boat trips in Murchison Falls NP.
- Hamerkop, This is a medium sized water bird seen on the Mweya Peninsula in QENP
- Saddle billed stork, This is the largest and most hand some of several storks usually seen in pairs on game drives in Murchison falls.
- Marabou stork, this is a Macabre carrion-eating stork common in rural and urban Environments especially in down town Kampala.
- Shoebill, Unmistakable large grey swamp-dweller and is the main motivating factor behind many ornithological tours to Uganda. They are mainly seen in Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Mabamba Swamp and in Murchison falls.
- Flamingos, astonishing and sociable pink-white algae eaters commonly seen in large concentrations in Katwe and Flamingo crater lakes in QENP.
- African Fish Eagle, Unique grey snake-eating raptor.
- Helmeted guinea fowl
- Africa Jacana; common in most wetlands in Uganda
- Grey crowned crane; Uganda’s national bird common in swamps and grasslands
- African grey parrot; they are mostly seen in any forested habitat.
- Great blue turaco; found I forested areas including Entebbe Botanical gardens
- Ross’s turacco
- Eastern grey plantain-eater
- African emerald cuckoo
- Verreaux’s eagle-owl; largest owl species in Uganda and mostly seen during night drives.
- Pennant/standard winged nightjars; mostly seen on the road to the top of Murchison falls after dusk.
- Pied Kingfisher;
- Giant Kingfisher.
- Malachite Kingfisher;
- Red-throated bee-eater; breeds in tall sandbanks on Lake Albert and the Nile below Murchison falls.
- Lilac-breasted roller
- Black and white casqued hornbill
- For-tailed drongo
- Piacpiac; commonly found in Jinja and Murchison falls
- African Finfoot
- Jackson’s francolin
- Denhams bustard
- African skimmer
- Blue throated roller
- Black bee eater
- Forest/white headed wood hoope
- African pied hornbill
- Chocolate-backed kingfisher
- Papyrus gonolek
- Red headed bluebill
And many more.