Uganda is a beautiful country, located in East Africa. It is one of the countries in Africa with the highest number of tourists, coming specifically for birding safaris, either for leisure and holidays or research. Uganda is blessed with so many exciting features and an amazing ecosystem which is pivotal to the survival of these bird species. Besides the geographical features in Uganda, there's also high concentration of fauna and flora. This ranges between major species of wildlife such as the Big 5 mammals like the elephants, rhinos, Buffalo, giraffes, and zebras. Uganda is also a habitat of many of the creatures such as monkeys, antelopes, lions, hyenas, and many of the wild life animals. The country is blessed with so many plant species in thousands of their numbers. It’s also important to note that these species attract so many tourists especially botanists who come into the country in order to study these beautiful plant species. Uganda has a large concentration of forests which include both hard wood and softwood trees. Some of the most common trees are Mvule, Mahogany, Red wood, and many more others. This flora is the breeding home to majority of the birds in the country in which they weave nests, breed, rest, and find food.
Uganda is located in the rift valley region of East Africa and is blessed to have the Western arm of the East African Rift Valley cross its boundaries on the western part of the country. This is inclusive of Lake Albert, Lake Edward and Lake George areas. Uganda also has other numerous water bodies such as lakes Victoria and Kyoga, and rivers such as River Nile which is the world's longest river. Needless to say is the fact that Uganda also has numerous highlands such as mountains like the mountain Rwenzori (Uganda's highest mountain), Mountain Elgon, Mountain Mufumbiro, among others.
This brief introduction brings us to the important subject which is birding in Uganda. As mentioned above, all those geography and physical features are important in the attraction of the numerous bird species that inhabit Uganda. These bird species range from those that live in the lowlands and also those that live in the highlands. The water bodies that wash the lowlands of Uganda are important in providing the food that most of these birds feed on. Such bird species that depending on feeding near these water bodies are herons, shoebills, vereux eagles, among others.
Birding is a very awesome activity to which a tourist needs to have an experience but it is important for the tourist to be aware of the necessary information required before and during traveling to Uganda to have such a lifetime experience. The unique and popular bird species in Uganda are (others notwithstanding) Crested crane - Uganda's national symbol and sacred bird, Saddle billed stork, Black bee eater, Bar-tailed trogon, Chocolate backed, Kingfisher, Standard winged nightjar, and the African grey parrot. There's also the Green breasted pitta, Doherty Bush-shrike, Regal sunbird, Karamoja apalis, Dwarf honey-guide, Yellow billed ox-pecker
Great blue turaco, Ruwenzori batis, Handsome francolin, Secretary bird, Long crested eagle, Grauer swamp warbler, Neuman warbler, Shelley crimson-wing, African spoonbill, African green broadbill, African spoonbill, Marabou stork, Golden-winged sunbird, Chapin's flycatcher, African finfoot, and the Black breasted barbet.
The Fox's Weaver is Uganda's known endemic bird species. It enjoys breeding in the savannah and exploits it more when it's moist. This species can also be located in swamplands especially those situated in the lowland areas. Uganda being located in the tropics and having good large expanses of tropical rainforest, these birds inhabit these areas and make use of the tree branches in which they make their nests. The species can also be located in the subtropical regions of Uganda. The specific districts in which to find these birds’ species are Soroti and Kumi districts, both located in Eastern Uganda. These districts have a large concentration of subtropical lowlands and these birds can be seen flying and chattering in these areas. There has been however much concern about the conservation of these birds since they are threatened by great loss of their habitat areas, through degradation activities by the people who live in these lowlands. Therefore any prospective tourist should look out for this endemic species that is located probably only in Uganda. They are great birds to watch.
Birding spots in Uganda
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Over 300 bird species are located in this place and this can be explained by majorly the great Forest cover. It is named impenetrable because of the high concentration of vegetation which makes it hard or probably impossible to be penetrated. Some of these bird species migrate from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Virunga ranges in which most of these are endemic species. Therefore it's one of the best spots in Uganda in which one can enjoy birding.
Mgahinga National Park.
Just like Bwindi, it is located in the southwestern part of Uganda and is one of the major birding spots in country. Because of the great influx of these birds most of which are endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is also due to the fact that the Western rift cuts across not only Congo but also in Uganda which is one of the major reasons for the migration of these birds. Another reason is for the high concentration of the rainforests in the Mgahinga National Park. Lastly, it's found in the highlands of Virunga which greatly attracts highland accustomed bird species.
Kibale Forest National Park.
Found in Uganda's western areas, it sits in the lower south areas of Fort Portal, Kyenjojo district. This is another important birding spot in Uganda. It contains about 300 species which inhabit this forest land. This gives more to the experience that most tourists enjoy when they go for chimpanzee tracking. Therefore the next time a tourist visits this place, they should look out for these beautiful birds.
Murchison Falls National Park.
It is located in the corridor that nears the mid-west parts of Uganda. The falls are located on the Albert Nile which is an extension of the River Nile. These falls are surrounded by a large expanse of forestlands, bushes, and thickets. It houses about 170 species of bird species some of which are endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some of those are Secretary bird, Long crested eagle, Neuman warbler, and African spoonbill.
Other national parks in which a tourist may be interested in visiting to have this birding experience are Lake Mburo National Park, Semliki National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Rwenzori National Park.
The best wetlands for birding are the Mabamba bay wetlands, the wetlands at Nabugabo, Lutoboka, Sango and Lutembe bays. The forests for birding in Uganda are Kibale forest, Mabira forest, Bwindi Impenetrable forest, Mt. Elgon forest, and Mt. Rwenzori forest.
The best months for birding in Uganda are the months of June, July, and August specifically because this period has a lot of sunshine and less unexpected interruptions from the rainfall. This period is generally the dry season of Uganda and has minimal/little or no rainfall at all. Therefore it's advisable for prospective tourists to look out for birding during these months.
Interested tourists are advised to carry a camera and also binoculars to have an up-close view of these birds. The camera comes in handy with the photography. A prospective tourist is advised to look out for the travel agent they contracted in order to find more information about this activity on fees, and other necessary requirements involved.