Birdwatching, or birding, is the observing of birds, either as a recreational activity or as a form of citizen science. A birdwatcher may observe by using their naked eye, by using a visual enhancement device like binoculars or a telescope, by listening for bird sounds, or by watching public webcams.

Group birdwatching with binoculars and a telescope

Birdwatching often involves a significant auditory component, as many bird species are more easily detected and identified by ear than by eye. Most birdwatchers pursue this activity for recreational or social reasons, unlike ornithologists, who engage in the study of birds using formal scientific methods.

Uganda is one of the most diverse and breathtaking birding destinations in Africa and the entire world. Bird species are so diverse and are a birdwatchers dream

Birding in the Pearl of Africa

Uganda is a bird lover’s paradise, boasting more than 1,000 different bird species. The country’s diverse landscapes and ecosystems provide ideal habitats for various species that range from exotic forest birds to tall water cranes and majestic birds of prey.

Top 8 Birding Sites in Uganda

No matter where you visit in Uganda, you will never be far from a reserve or national park where you can go birdwatching. Some of the most popular birding places in Uganda include:

The three to four-hour Gorge Trail between Gahinga and Sabinyo can provide a spectacular sighting of the Dusky turtle Dove, Cape Robin-chat, Kivu-ground Thrush, Olive Thrush, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Bronze Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, Black-headed Waxbill, and Streaky Seedeater.

Other good birding areas are at the bamboo belt at about 2,500m above sea level, and the tall montane forest at 2,660m. The Rwenzori Turaco is mostly sighted at around 2,700m. Along the Uganda-Congo border and on level ground, the Chubb’s Cisticola, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Banded Prinia, and Doherty’s Bush-shrike are vocal yet inconspicuous inhabitants of the tangled vegetation at the forest’s edge thus Birdwatching.

  • Nyamuriro Swamp

Nyamuriro Swamp is an Important Bird Area (IBA) that lies within the Ruhuhuma swamp in Kageyo valley, in which a river from Lake Bunyonyi flows. It is an extensive natural swamp dominated by papyrus Cyperus papyrus, in parts, herbaceous plants. The drainage from this swamp connects to Lakes Mutanda and Murehe in Kisoro District.

There are 348 bird species have been recorded at Bwindi. They include 25 restricted-range species, of which 23 are confined to the Albertine Rift and four are globally threatened: A

  • Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Birding opportunities are greatest in the montane forest. Bee-eaters, robins, sunbirds and barbets are some of the 217 species found in Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

Birding opportunities are greatest in the montane forest; understandably, few species choose to make their home in the inhospitable world of the high Rwenzori. Bee-eaters, Robins, Sunbirds, and Barbets are some of the 217 species found in Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Other species to watch out for include the Rwenzori Turaco and Long-eared Owl; while higher up on the slopes, Bearded Vultures, Swifts, and Black Eagles may be seen circling for prey.

  • Kibale Forest National Park
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park
  • Kyambura Wildlife Reserve
  • Semliki Reserves

A few bird species found in Uganda

  1. Crested Crane

This majestic bird is the national bird and is located on the country flag. Standing over 3 feet (1 meter) tall with a 6-foot wingspan, the crested crane only weighs approximately 7 pounds and can live up to 22 years. While many cranes make a gobbling call similar to a turkey, the crested crane honks more like a goose.

Birdwatching
Crested Crane

The crested crane loves living among the grassy wetlands of Uganda and rarely migrates. This bird is smart and has learned to protect itself from predators by hiding among cattle herds. Many birds of Uganda have a mating dance, but the crested crane loves dancing so much that it dances all year-round, in and out of mating season.

  1. Shoebill Stork

Named for its large bill that is shaped like a shoe, the shoebill is one of the most coveted birds among birders. Featuring a prehistoric appearance, the shoebill looks like it survived the dinosaur age. Without a doubt, this is one of the weirdest birds on the planet

While it can be tricky to spot this elusive bird, you will most likely find it around swampy areas such as those found within Murchison Falls National Park, Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and along the shores of Lake Victoria.

  1. Shelley’s Crimsonwing

Your chances of spotting this colorful finch are pretty slim as it is an incredibly shy bird. It flies only short distances and takes cover (most of the time) in bamboo thickets and dense forest growth within the Albertine Rift that borders the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

As of now, there are only two known photographs in the world of this Crimsonwing. If you are a serious birder intent on glimpsing this rare bird, one of the best places to start in Uganda is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

  1. Great Blue Turaco

Native Africans have traditionally believed that this brilliant bird brings good luck. It is one of the most common birds, but the great blue turaco is also one of the most beautiful birds of birding

With a turquoise blue body, yellow breast and reddish-yellow beak, the great blue turaco’s brightly-colored feathers have been used among native African tribes for many generations as a symbol to distinguish tribal leaders.

  1. Marabou Stork

There is no mistaking the marabou stork. With cloak-like wings, skinny legs, and weird-looking air sacs hanging down from the base of its neck, this tall wading bird is often regarded as one of the ugliest birds of Uganda thus Birdwatching.

The marabou’s appearance isn’t the only strange thing about this bird. It has many odd behaviors as well.

For example, instead of flying away from grass fires like other birds, the marabou uses the blazes to its advantage to swoop in and feed on small fleeing animals. If the marabou gets too hot, it cools off by excreting its feces on its legs.

Birdwatching
Marabou Stork
  1. African Green Broadbill

If you want to see the African green broadbill when visiting Uganda, you will need to go to the Bwindi National Park because this is the only place in the country where this small, elusive bird lives.

This tiny bird features a body of mostly green feathers, with light blue on the throat, breast, and tail as well as a tan forehead with black streaks. While conservationists are putting forth serious efforts to protect this little rare bird, climate change and deforestation continue to threaten its numbers.

  1. Doherty’s Bushshrike

If you are trekking through the tropical forests or shrublands, you may hear the loud, territorial whistle of the Doherty’s bushshrike before you ever see it.

One of the more common birds of Uganda, the Doherty’s bushshrike even sports the vivid black, red and yellow colors of the Ugandan flag. This little solitary bird loves to feed on grasshoppers and beetles.

Birdwatching
Doherty’s Bushshrike
  1. Saddle-billed Stork

Owing to its name to the patch of yellow on its red bill and white back, the saddle-billed stork is noted for several unique facts. For one, this wading bird is among the tallest in the world, growing to a height of nearly five feet.

Unlike most birds, the saddle-billed stork doesn’t have a vocal organ and only makes sound by clacking its bill. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs dating back more than 5,000 years depict this bird to symbolize a part of the pharaoh Khaba’s name.

Your best chances for spotting this interesting bird are in Sumuliki National Park and along the Kazinga Channel thus Birdwatching.

  1. Green-Breasted Pitta

The green-breasted pitta is one of the most difficult birds of Uganda to spot, making it one of the most sought-after birds. This pitta lives well-camouflaged in the forests of the Kibale National Park.

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