The Best Birding Spots in Uganda: A Guide to Avian Wonders

Uganda is a birder’s paradise, boasting a diverse range of habitats from lush forests to savannas, making it home to over 1,000 bird species. Here are some top birding destinations in Uganda, along with examples of birds you might spot:
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Birds:

Bwindi is famous for its population of endangered mountain gorillas, but it’s also a hotspot for birding. You can find species like the African Green Broadbill, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, African Emerald Cuckoo, and the Handsome Francolin.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Birds:

This park is known for its diverse birdlife, including the iconic African Fish Eagle, Shoebill Stork, Martial Eagle, African Skimmer, and Pink-backed Pelican. The Kazinga Channel, a natural channel that connects Lake Edward and Lake George, offers excellent birding opportunities.
Murchison Falls National Park
Birds:

Along the Nile River, you might spot the prehistoric-looking Shoebill Stork, African Finfoot, Goliath Heron, Secretarybird, and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill. The park’s varied habitats support a wide range of bird species.
Kibale National Park
Birds:

While renowned for chimpanzee tracking, Kibale is also a fantastic birding destination. Look out for species like the African Pitta, Green-breasted Pitta, Grey-throated Flycatcher, Yellow-spotted Nicator, and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird.
Semuliki National Park
Birds:

Semuliki is part of the Congo Basin, and its birdlife reflects this, with species such as the Congo Serpent Eagle, Long-tailed Hawk, Nkulengu Rail, African Piculet, and the White-crested Hornbill.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Birds: This park is known for its population of mountain gorillas and the chance to climb the Virunga Volcanoes. While there, keep an eye out for birds like the Rwenzori Turaco, Kivu Ground Thrush, Olive Woodpecker, and the Scarlet-tufted Sunbird.
Birds: Although smaller than other parks, Lake Mburo still offers excellent birdwatching opportunities. Species to look for include the African Finfoot, African Wattled Lapwing, Red-faced Barbet, White-winged Warbler, and the Brown-chested Lapwing.
Kidepo Valley National Park
Birds: Situated in the rugged Karamoja region, Kidepo Valley National Park is home to unique bird species such as the Karamoja Apalis, Fox’s Weaver, Black-breasted Barbet, Golden Pipit, and the Abyssinian Roller.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Birds:

The Rwenzori Mountains, also known as the “Mountains of the Moon,” are a haven for montane forest birds. Look out for species like the Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Batis, Lagden’s Bushshrike, Rwenzori Nightjar, and the Handsome Francolin.
Entebbe Botanical Gardens
Birds: Located on the shores of Lake Victoria, the Entebbe Botanical Gardens are an excellent spot for birdwatching. Species you might see include the African Jacana, Great Blue Turaco, Palm-nut Vulture, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, and the Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill.
Mabamba Swamp
Birds:

Mabamba Swamp is one of the best places in Uganda to see the elusive Shoebill Stork. Additionally, you can spot other wetland species such as the White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Blue-headed Coucal, Carruthers’s Cisticola, and the African Purple Swamp Hen.
Ssese Islands
Birds: This archipelago in Lake Victoria offers a different birding experience. Species you might encounter include the African Fish Eagle, Grey-headed Gull, African Skimmer, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, and the Pink-backed Pelican.
Lake Bunyonyi
Birds:

Lake Bunyonyi is not only stunningly beautiful but also offers great birding opportunities. Species you might spot include the White-headed Sawwing, Black-headed Weaver, African Harrier-Hawk, Black Kite, and the African Blue Flycatcher.
Mpanga Forest Reserve
Birds: Mpanga Forest Reserve is a haven for forest bird species. Keep an eye out for birds such as the White-spotted Flufftail, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Western Nicator, and the White-spotted Woodpecker.
Katonga Forest Reserve

Birds:

Katonga Forest Reserve is an important bird area in Uganda. Species you might encounter include the African Green Pigeon, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Green Crombec, Red-throated Alethe, and the White-browed Crombec.
Mabira Forest
Birds: Mabira Forest is one of the largest remaining rainforests in Uganda and offers excellent birdwatching opportunities. Look out for species such as the African Pied Hornbill, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, and the African Grey Parrot.
Birds: Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is one of the best places to see savanna and woodland bird species. Keep an eye out for the Heuglin’s Courser, Black-bellied Bustard, Jackson’s Hornbill, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, and the Karamoja Apalis.
Mount Elgon National Park
Birds:

Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano with diverse habitats ranging from montane forest to alpine moorland. Species you might see include the Jackson’s Francolin, Moustached Green Tinkerbird, Alpine Chat, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, and the Red-throated Wryneck.

Additional Tips

Respect the environment: Follow ethical birdwatching practices and avoid disturbing the birds or their habitats.
Stay with your group: If you’re birding with a guide or group, stick together and follow their instructions.
Stay informed: Familiarize yourself with the specific bird species you’re likely to encounter in Uganda and their habitats.
Check travel restrictions: Before your trip, check any travel restrictions or guidelines related to birding in Uganda, especially in protected areas or national parks

What is the Best Season to go for Bird Watching?
The best season for birding in Uganda largely depends on your preferences and the specific bird species you’re interested in observing. However, generally speaking, the following seasons offer unique opportunities for birdwatching in Uganda:
Dry Season (June to August, December to February)
Clear Visibility: During the dry season, vegetation is less dense, making it easier to spot birds.
Migrant Birds: Many bird species, including migratory birds from Europe and northern Africa, arrive in Uganda during the dry season, adding to the diversity of birdlife.
Less Rain: Rainfall is typically lower during the dry season, resulting in fewer interruptions to outdoor activities.
Wet Season (March to May, September to November)
Breeding Season: The wet season coincides with the breeding season for many bird species in Uganda. You may have the opportunity to observe courtship displays, nest-building activities, and fledglings.
Lush Vegetation: Despite the challenges of dense vegetation and occasional rain showers, the wet season brings lush greenery and increased insect activity, which can attract a variety of bird species.
Fewer Tourists: The wet season is considered the low tourist season in Uganda, so you may encounter fewer crowds and have more intimate wildlife encounters.
Additional Considerations

Birding Hotspots: Different regions of Uganda may have varying birding seasons based on local climate patterns and bird migration routes. Research popular birding hotspots and their peak seasons before planning your trip.
Special Events: Consider timing your birding trip to coincide with special birdwatching events or festivals in Uganda, such as bird counts or guided birding tours.
Personal Preference: Ultimately, the best season for birding in Uganda depends on your personal preferences regarding weather, bird activity, and travel logistics. Some birdwatchers may prefer the excitement of migrant arrivals during the dry season, while others may enjoy the vibrant breeding displays of the wet season.
Whether you choose to visit during the dry season or the wet season, Uganda offers exceptional birdwatching opportunities year-round, thanks to its diverse habitats and rich avian biodiversity.

What is the Best time of the day to go for bird watching? 
The best time of day for birdwatching can vary depending on factors such as location, habitat, and the behavior of the birds you’re interested in observing. However, there are generally two main periods when bird activity is at its peak:
Early Morning
Dawn Chorus: Many bird species are most active during the early morning hours, especially around dawn. This time is often referred to as the “dawn chorus” when birds sing loudly to establish territories, attract mates, and communicate with each other.
Cooler Temperatures: In warmer climates like Uganda, early mornings offer cooler temperatures, making it more comfortable for both birds and birdwatchers to be active.
Feeding Activity: Birds are often busy foraging for food in the morning to fuel themselves for the day ahead, making it an ideal time to observe a variety of species.
Late Afternoon
Pre-Dusk Activity: As the day begins to cool down in the late afternoon, birds may become more active again after resting during the hottest part of the day.
Evening Songs: Similar to the dawn chorus, some bird species engage in vocalizations and social behaviors in the late afternoon as they prepare to roost for the night.
Golden Hour Photography: The soft, warm light during the late afternoon “golden hour” can provide beautiful lighting for bird photography.
Important to Consider
Species-Specific Behavior: Some bird species may have specific peak activity times based on their feeding habits, mating behaviors, or other factors. Researching the species you’re interested in can help you determine the best times to observe them.
Weather Conditions: Weather can also influence bird activity. In Uganda, where the climate is generally warm, birds may be active throughout the day, but they may seek shelter during periods of intense heat or rain.
Local Knowledge: Local birdwatching guides or experts may have valuable insights into the best times of day to observe birds in specific areas of Uganda, so consider seeking advice from knowledgeable locals.
Ultimately, the best time for birdwatching is when you have the opportunity to spend time in nature and observe the avian diversity around you. Whether it’s early morning, late afternoon, or any time in between, each time of day offers unique opportunities to connect with Uganda’s rich birdlife.
What to wear

Neutral-Colored Clothing: Wear neutral-colored clothing to blend in with the surroundings and not disturb the birds.
Lightweight, breathable clothing: Uganda’s climate can be warm, so wear lightweight and breathable clothing to stay comfortable during long walks and hikes.
Long- Sleeved Shirts and Pants:

Long-Sleeved Shirts and Pants: These will protect you from the sun, insects, and vegetation.
Comfortable Hiking boots or shoes: Choose sturdy footwear suitable for walking on uneven terrain.
Rain gear: Uganda’s weather can be unpredictable, so bring a lightweight rain jacket or poncho.
Hat and Sunglasses: Protect yourself from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
Socks: Bring extra pairs of socks, especially if your feet tend to sweat or if you’ll be walking through wet areas

Insect Repellant: Use insect repellent to protect yourself from mosquitoes and other insects.

What to Pack

Binoculars: A good pair of binoculars is essential for birdwatching. Opt for ones with a wide field of view and good magnification.
Field guide: Bring a bird identification book or app specific to Uganda to help you identify the different bird species you encounter.
Camera and/or smartphone: Capture the beauty of Uganda’s birds with a camera or smartphone equipped with a telephoto lens

Notebook and Pen: Take notes on the birds you see, including their behaviors, habitat, and any distinguishing features.
Backpack: Carry your essentials in a comfortable backpack with padded straps and multiple compartments.
Water bottle: Stay hydrated by bringing a reusable water bottle and refilling it throughout the day.
Snacks: Pack lightweight, energy-boosting snacks like nuts, dried fruit, and granola bars to keep you fueled during your birding adventures.
First aid kit: Include basic first aid supplies like adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers in case of minor injuries or ailments.
By packing the right clothing and equipment, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy the rich birdlife that Uganda has to offer while staying comfortable and safe in the field.

Uganda’s diverse ecosystems provide habitats for an incredible array of bird species, making it a must-visit destination for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. Whether you explore the national parks, forests, wetlands, swamps, mountains, savannas, or urban gardens, you’re sure to have an unforgettable birding experience in Uganda. you’re sure to be amazed by the birdlife in Uganda.

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