Birdwatching in Uganda - Africa's Nr 1 Birding Destination
With 1,063 of the 2,250 bird species recorded on the African continent, Uganda is the richest birding destination in Africa and considering the number of bird species per square kilometre, the tenth worldwide. Uganda’s birds have no shortage of habitats to inhabit; the dense tropical rainforests of the Albertine Rift Valley, the montane forests, the scenic shores of the Great Lakes, crater lakes and River Nile, the vast swamps and wetlands, and even the semi-arid desert plains of the northeast in Kidepo Valley National Park.
The best part about birding in Uganda is that watching birds is very easy, and can sometimes start right from the airport in Entebbe. All 10 National Parks host a long list of both local and visiting birds and birding can be done on nature walks and hikes, game drives, boat and canoe ride.
Tours range from short; to up to three-week long vacations to the best Important Bird Areas and wherever the tour goes, there is no shortage of professional local guides that are knowledgeable about the environment and the birds.
Birdwatching in Uganda - Species of note
Birding in Uganda is truly something special to encounter and watch the over 1,000 bird species in Uganda in all their varieties, colours and sizes. Visitors to Uganda will not regret adding a birding tour to their safari; a record 665 species were once sighted over a three-week period and it is not uncommon for birders to identify up to 200 birds in a single day.
Uganda has only 2 endemic birds, the Fox Weaver and the Stuhlmann’s double-collared sunbird. However, 23 Albertine endemics can be seen in Uganda. Sightings in Uganda include Shoebill Stork, Rwenzori and Great Blue Turaco, Karamoja Apalis, Nahan’s Francolin, Green-breasted Pitta, African Finfoot, African Green Broadbill, Grey Crowned Crane as well as Ostriches!
Uganda has over 30 developed IBA’s and the local birding community continues to identify new ones across the country. The most memorable may be Bwindi, which was voted ‘Africa’s top birding site’ in 2014. But just as impressive are the ‘Royal Mile’ in Murchison, and Queen Elizabeth National Park that is home to over 600 species – the largest concentration of any park in Uganda. Uganda’s open fresh waters and 30,000 sq. kms of wetland are home to hundreds of birds including very rare species, as are the widespread forest reserves, both montane and rainforest.
When to do it
Uganda has favourable climate all year round, so birding is a good year-round activity. The best and easiest time for bird sightings is during the rainy season when many birds are actively nesting. The two rainy seasons are in March – May and September – November, with the second season traditionally receiving heavier rains. For birders that are interested in migrant bird species, these can be seen starting in April before they depart in October, or depending on the bird, from August – April. African migratory birds land in July and leave in December.