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Uganda Birding Safaris

Uganda is arguably the most attractive country in Africa to bird watchers because it offers easy access to several bird-rich habitats that are difficult to reach elsewhere. 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. 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 and the commonest forests in Uganda with localized species include; Semliki, Budongo Forest, Kibale Forest and Bwindi Forest.

Uganda has different Uganda tour operators online but Ssemambo Alex Tours & Travel is the best optional for your birding safari tour. We will give you a professional Uganda birding safari tour guide who will not only be just your guide but also a friend, leading you throughout your birding trip. Once you book with us; we ensure all preparations like accommodation booking, transport 4×4 safari vehicle are booked early.

 

Interesting bird watching spots in Uganda include:

Entebbe Botanical Gardens

Spur-winged Plover

This place is best for the viewing of water and forest birds. The gardens host a variety of open country and woodland species and you can easily spend a pleasant couple of hours here. The tall trees near the main entrance are the favorite day-roost of a pair of Verreaux’s eagle owls. The key Birds of the gardens are; Orange tufted, Red chested Sunbirds and Orange weaver. The latter breed in the bushes on the shores of Lake Victoria along with Slender-billed, Northern Brown –throated, yellow backed kite, Jackson’s Golden-backed, Black-headed and Vieillot’s black weavers. On the lake and around the shore looks for long tailed Cormorant , Common Squacco and Black-headed herons, Hamerkop, African Open-billed Stork , Yellow billed duck, Grey headed gull, Terns, Giant and pied Kingfishers and swamp Flycatcher, Black headed Gonolek, Red- chested Sunbird, Great Blue and Ross’s turacos, Klaas’s and Diederik Cuckoos, Woodland Kingfisher, Broad-billed Roller, Black and white casqued horn bill, Splendid starling, African Fish eagle Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Hadada Ibis , Palmnut and Hooded Vultures, Lizard buzzard, Long-crested eagle, Grey kestrel, Black Crake, Blue-cheeked Bee eater, Angola swallow among others.

Lake Mburo National Park

Red faced Barbet

 

The park is best for water and acacia associated birds. There are different species observed at different locations and these include; the Rufous-bellied Heron, Bateleur, Coqui Francolin, Grey Crowned Crane, Black-bellied Bustard, Brown-chested Lapwing, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Brown Parrot, Red-headed Lovebird, Ross’s Turaco, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Green Wood-hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, White-headed Barbet, Red-faced Barbet (only seen in Lake Mburo), Nubian Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Long-tailed Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis, White-winged Tit and Fin foot, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Saddle-billed Stork, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Hairy-breasted Barbet among others.

 

 

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Red Chested Sunbird

The park contains over 600 bird species making it a must visit destination for birder to Uganda. Migratory birds are seen from November to April however birds can be seen throughout the year. Hot spots for the best birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park include; Kazinga Channel, Kasenyi Area, Mweya Peninsula, Maramagambo Forest, Ishasha Sector, Lake Kikorongo, Katunguru Bridge area and Katwe Area.  Watch out for the Shoebill, Martial Eagle, Black rumped Buttonquail, African Skimmer, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Black bee-Eater, White-Tailed Lark ,White –winged Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus canary, Resident African Mourning dove, Grey Headed Kingfisher, Swamp Flycatcher, Grey-capped warbler, the beautiful black headed Gonolek, Red Chested sunbird, Slender-billed, Yellow –backed and lesser masked weavers, Pin-tailed Whydah and Brimstone canary, Gabon and Slender–tailed Nightjars, Temminck’s courser, Collared Pranticole, Red- capped Lark, Lesser and Greater Flamingo, African Broadbill, Pink backed Pelican, Bar-tailed Godwit among others.

Murchison Falls National Park

Saddled-billed stork

Murchison falls is among Uganda’s best birding spots with over 451 bird species which include; Albertine rift endemic birds, water birds, and savannah birds. The park is one of the best places in Africa to find the prehistoric-looking shoebill stork and sightings of this bird are almost guaranteed on a boat trip on the Victoria Nile towards the Lake Albert delta. There are very many birds in the park of which some are rare, common and occasional.  Bird species you can look out for include; Gray crowned crane (Uganda’s National bird), Giant Kingfisher, Giant Heron, Shoebill stork, Abyssinian Ground Hornbills, Standard-winged Nightjar, Marabou stork, Black headed lapwing, Back-bellied Bustard, Goliath Heron, Long-toed plover, White backed Night Heron, Black headed Gonolek, Saddled-billed Stork, Chestnut-crowned sparrow weaver, Spotted morning Thrush, Silver bird, Bluff-bellied Warblers, Hamerkop, Flycatchers, Red-throated Bee eaters, Malachite kingfishers, Hornbills, Cuckoos, Francolin, woodpeckers, geese, Black billed barbet and among others.

Kidepo Valley National Park

Abyssinian Roller

Kidepo Valley has a very impressive bird list of over 470 species, the park has the second highest bird record of any Ugandan protected areas after Queen Elizabeth National Park and it’s the best for viewing Northern semi-desert specials .Sixty birds on its list haven’t been recorded in any other Ugandan park and migratory birds are present from November to April. Apoka Rest Camp and Park Headquarters overlooking Southern Narus Valley is a great spot to begin your birding experience. Among the birds seen are the Abyssinian Roller, Purple Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Clapperton’s Francolin (which is found only in Kidepo), Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Long-tailed and Standard-winged Nightjars, Common ostrich, African Grey Flycatcher, Karamoja Apalis, Little Green Bee-eater, Eastern Violet backed, Red-winged Lark, African Swallow-tailed kite, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Eastern Pale Chanting Goshawk, White headed and White billed Buffalo Weavers, Violet-tipped Courser, Superb Starling, Ethiopian Swallow, Secretary bird, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Red billed Oxpecker, Northern White-crowned and Yellow-billed Shrikes, Eastern Yellow and Jackson’s Hornbills, White-crested Turaco, Singing Bush lark and much more.

Lutembe Bay

Papyrus Gonolek

This is known as one of the biggest breeding sanctuaries for migratory birds and also stands as one of the remarkable bird watching sites in the Lake Victoria Basin. Birds live nine months of the year here and only go back to Europe to breed and when it is time to go back and breed, the young ones fly as black birds, breed and come back to Lutembe when they are white. Migration here takes place in September and October annually and leave from February to March. When here, watch out for; Hummer kops, Grey heron, Long toes plover, Greater cattle egrets, African skimmer, Greater cormorant, Papyrus Gonolek, Madagascar Squacco, Papyrus yellow warble, White winged black terns, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Whiskered Tern, Purple Starling, Common Waxbill, Black-necked weaver, Grey-backed Fiscal, Broad-billed Roller, African Green Pigeon, Senegal Lapwing, African-Pygmy Kingfisher, Common Waxbill, Blue-spotted wood-dove and much more.

 

Mabamba wetland

Shoebill stork

 

Mabamba wetland is a great spot for bird watching safaris in Uganda and apart from Murchison Falls National Park; Mabamba is the only place where the elusive Shoebill can be spotted at any time of the day. You can spot out different bird species like; Malachite Kingfisher, Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Black Terns, Blue Swallow, Yellow-backed weaver, Goliath Herons, White-winged Warbler, Northern Brown-throated weaver, Pygmy Geese, Papyrus Canary, Gull-billed Terns, Blue-headed coucal, Grey-headed Gulls, Carruther’s Cisticola and many more.

 

 

Musambwa Island

Pied Kingfisher

The island is a recognized Ramsar site and it’s classified as one of the 6 IBAs (Important Birding Area) in Uganda. It harbors the largest breeding colony of the grey headed gull in Africa. The island has over 2000 snakes and reptiles of all sizes as well as very large bird species. This place is a breeding site for long-tailed Cormorant, Greater Cormous and Little Egret. Other species include; African marsh harrier, White-winged black tern, Egyptian goose, Black crake, Pink-backed pelican, Spur-winged plover, Cattle egret, Grey heron, Yellow-billed duck, African fish eagle, Common moorhen, Open-billed stork, Water thick-knee, Herring gull, Common sandpiper, Blacked-headed heron, Lesser black-backed gull, Lesser flamingo, Green-backed heron, Squacco heron and Pied kingfisher, Sacred ibis and many others.

 

Mgahinga National Park

Black Kite

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is blessed with a unique bird fauna whereby some of these species are endemic to the Albertine Rift Mountains. Here bird watching can be done all year round in the park. There are migratory birds in the park between the months of November to April. Birding species include; Scarlet-tufted Malachite, Black kite, Rwenzori Turaco, Doubled-collared sunbird, Paradise flycatcher, Crowned Hornbill, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, White-necked raven, Fire Finch stonechat, Dusky Turtle Dove, Grey Capped Warbler, Archer’s robin-chat, Kivu Ground Thrush, Handsome Francolin, Olive woodpecker, Rwenzori Nightjar, Olive Pigeon, Dusky Crimsonwing and many others.

 

 

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Cinnamon-chested bee-eater

The park offers some of the best montane-forest (mountain-forest) bird watching in Africa. There are an estimated 350 bird species, with 14 not recorded anywhere else in Uganda and migratory birds are present from November to April. In Bwindi birding is most done at Buhoma visitor centre on many trails near the River Munyaga, the birding sites at the Neck and Ruhija with the outstanding birding spectacular environments. Here birds are very many and easy to spot; many species connecting in assorted feeding flocks that are all through the day. The bird list of Bwindi include; African broadbill, African wood owl, Dusky crimson-wing, yellow-streaked Greenbuls, handsome Francolin, African green pigeon, white-tailed crested Flycatcher,  Yellow-eyed black flycatcher, Crowned hornbill,  Regal sunbird, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Rwenzori batis, Western Green Tinkerbird, Fine-banded Woodpecker, Strange Weaver, Western Green Tinker bird, Red-faced woodland Warbler, Dwarf Honey Guide, Rwenzori Turaco, Blue-headed Sunbird, Rwenzori Nightjar, Yellow-crested Helmet Shrike, Kivu Ground Thrush and much more.

Mt. Rwenzori National Park

Rwenzori Turaco

Rwenzori Mountain National park has a record of over 217 species of birds recognized and 8 of these are limited to species of the Albertine endemics which is only second to Bwindi Impenetrable forest that has 24 restricted range species of the birds. Look out for; Dwarf Honey Guide, Rwenzori Turaco, Red faced woodland warbler, Bamboo Warbler, Dusky and Shelley’s Crimson-wing, Golden Winged sun bird, Purple breasted sunbirds, African Long-eared Owl, Scarlet tufted malachite Sun bird, Olive Woodpecker, Strange weaver, Guinea Congo, Kivu Ground Thrush, Tiny and Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbirds, Rwenzori Nightjar, Ribon Chat, White-collared Olive-back, Grauer’s Cuckoos Shrike, Rwenzori Batis, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Handsome Francolin, Western Green Tinker bird.

 

 

Bigodi Wetland in Kibale National Park

Blue-breasted Kingfisher

Bigodi swamp is one of the areas of interest in Kibale Forest National Park with mammals and over 200 species have been recorded whereby bird watchers are advised to visit this paradise. Here look out for; Great Blue Turaco, Black and White Shrike-flycatcher, Blue breasted kingfisher, Crowned Eagle, Superb Sunbird, Grey-winged Robin-chat, Green breasted Pitta, Black bishop, Yellow Spotted Barbet, Papyrus Gonolek, Yellow Billed Barbet, Purple breasted Sunbird, Dusky Crimson-wing, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Brown-backed Scrub-robin, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Hornbills, Brown throated wattle eye, weavers, White-breasted Negro-finch, Cuckoos, Black Crowned Waxbill, Black bee- eater, White-spotted fluff-tail, African Pitta, Yellow rumpled tinker bird, Hairy breasted Barbet and many more.

 

Semliki National Park

Orange-cheeked Waxbill

Semliki National Park is one of the top birding destinations in Uganda with over 441 recorded species.  There are 46 Guinea-Congo biome bird species which cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa, 35 of these are only found in 2-3 other parts of Uganda and 5 Albertine Rift endemics species. Species to look out for include; Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Nkulengu Rail, Red-billed helmet-Shrike, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Piping Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Black Dwarf Hornbill, Great blue and Ross’s Turaco, White-crested Hornbill, Black-winged Starling, Black-casqued, Wattled Hornbill, Long-tailed Hawk, Red-rumped Tinker bird, African Piculet, White-throated Blue Swallow, Black wattled Hornbill, Yellow-throated Nicator, Leaf-love, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Crested Malimbe, Red-bellied Malimbe, Blue-billed malimbe, Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lyre-tailed Honey guide and many more.

Lake Bunyonyi

Malachite kingfisher

Meaning “the place of little birds”, Lake Bunyonyi takes its name from the abundant birdlife that call it home. All the 6 Islands around it have got many bird species that can be enjoyed by many bird watchers that visit the Lake. Over 200 species are found here and some of these include: African Harrier Hawk, Pied kingfisher, Egrets, Cinnamon-chested Bee eater, Grey crowned crested crane, Malachite kingfisher, Black heron, Grey shrike, Great cormorant, Cardinal woodpecker, Bronze manikin, Streaky seed eater, Pied wagtail, Fan-tailed widow bird, Bronzy sun bird, Hadada ibis, Speckled mouse bird, Golden-backed weaver and Black-headed weaver.

 

 

Mabira Forest

Red-capped Robin-Chat

This is the most significant forest reserve closest to the city centre and the forest boasts over 315 bird species with a record of 74 bird species of Guinea-Congo Forests biome that occurs in Uganda. While here, be ready to sight out different bird species like; White-billed kingfisher, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Grey and Buff-spotted Woodpeckers, Red-capped Robin-Chat, African Dwarf-kingfisher, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, African Pied Hornbill, Grey Parrot, Hairy-breasted Barbet, African Shrike-flycatcher, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Black-shouldered Nightjar, Black and White Casqued Hornbill, Yellow Billed Barbet, Cassin’s Hawk Eagle, Blue-throated Roller, Cassin’s Honeyguide, Grey-green Bush Shrike, Green-breasted Pitta, Speckled Tinkerbird and much more.

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT SOME OF THE COMMON BIRDS IN UGANDA

ABYSSINIAN GROUND HORNBILL (BUCORVUS ABYSSINICUS)

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

This is an African bird, found north of the equator, and is one of two species of ground hornbill. They are among the species of ground hornbills an endemic family of a typical pedestrian hornbills adapted to ground dwelling, and that’s how they get their name. Abyssinian Ground Hornbills are Africa’s most engaging birds living in close knit co-operative family groups. Unlike the other types of hornbills these ones do not seal their nests and walk over large distances to feed. They fly to the trees in case of danger or to breed. It is believe in some hunting cultures whereby hunters may tie the severed head and neck of these birds around their necks in the belief that it helps them stalk their wild ungulate quarry.

Facts about the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

  • Abyssinian ground hornbills very heavily, shaggy looking with black and white feathering under wings, they have blue and red face patches with long eyelashes.
  • The male adult has a larger bill topped with an open casqued, with a pale yellowish patch at the base of upper mandible and a blue-red skin around the eye and on the throat while the female is slightly smaller and has a reduced casque with a blue eye skin.
  • The immature bird is brownish black with a poorly formed casque, small grayish wattle.
  • An individual hornbill can walk up to 11 km (6.8 mi) in a day, pouncing on and eating animals they come across.
  • Abyssinian ground hornbills are opportunist feeders; they have also been recorded digging for arthropods in the soil and attacking bee hives for honeycomb.
  • The strong bill is used to capture and overcome the prey before it is eaten.
  • Ugandan Abyssinian ground hornbills breed in January.
  • When these birds fly, they reveal striking white primary feathers.

Where to find the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

You will be able to watch these birds in Semliki Wildlife Reserve and Murchison Falls. You will also find the Abyssinian Ground Hornbills within their habitats in pairs and family groups with strong vocals deep booming uh-uh, uh-uh-uh which is far carrying and is normally made at dawn from either a perch or from the ground.

AFRICAN PIED HORNBILL (LOPHOCEROS FASCIATUS)

African Pied Hornbill

This is a bird of the hornbill family and mainly a forest habitant. It is a medium sized black and white hornbill markedly pied with a pale yellow bill tipped reddish-black.

Facts of an African Pied Hornbill

  • The female lays up to four white eggs in a tree hole, which is blocked off during incubation with a cement made of mud.
  • The sexes are similar, but the female has a smaller casque
  • The African pied hornbill is omnivorous and eats fruit and insects. It feeds mainly in trees and is attracted to oil palms.
  • When the chicks and the female are too big to fit in the nest, the mother breaks out and rebuilds the wall where it is possible for both parents to feed the chicks.
  • This conspicuous and gregarious bird advertises its presence with its whistlingpii-pii-pii-pii- 
  • Immature birds are duller, have a smaller bill, and no casque.
  • You can find them either in pairs or small groups often encountered slowly working through the forest canopy.

Where to find an African Pied Hornbill

You will be able to see these birds in Entebbe Botanical Garden where they are residents and also in Kibale National Park, Budongo Forest and Mabira Forest.

BLACK AND WHITE CASQUED HORNBILL (BYCANISTESSUBCYLINDRICUS)

Black & White Casqued Hornbill

Also known as the grey-cheeked hornbill, is a large approximately 70 cm (28 in) long black and white hornbill. It has an over sized blackish bill with a large casque on top. The female is slightly smaller than the male and has a significantly smaller casque.

Facts about the Black and White Casqued Hornbill

  • The female usually lays up to two eggs.
  • The diet consists mainly of figs, fruits, insects and small animals found in the trees.
  • It has very mobile eyes which is not a common trait in birds. This means that its eyes themselves can move in their socket, while other birds tend to have to move their heads to see.
  • While males weight between1 kg and 1.5 kg, the females weight between 1 kg and 1.25 kg.
  • It is capable of displaying emotions through the feathers at the top of the head, which allows it to communicate its emotional state.
  • The black-and-white-casqued hornbill does not consume water directly and seems to instead hydrate itself from the water contained in the fruits that represent most of its diet.
  • Females have a smaller casque and a black bill.

Where to find the Black and White Casqued Hornbill

They can be found in most of the Ugandan trees.

AFRICAN THRUSH (TURDUS PELIOS) 

African Thrush

The African Thrush has dark olive-grey upper parts with a whitish evenly brown- streaked side throat, the breast is greyish brown and the flanks are pale buff-orange with this colour not extending on to the lower breast, the belly and vent are white whereas its bill is yellow-orange.

Facts about the African Thrush

  • Breeding is recorded in all months but very active in the wet seasons.
  • The African thrush is normally encountered either singly or in pairs, rather shy and retiring preferring to remain in cover but will come out and gather at fruiting trees.
  • It’s nest is cup shaped, rather bulky and is constructed using plant fibres and mud lined with fine grasses, leaves and roots.
  • The female lays 2-3 eggs and both sexes participate in feeding the young ones.
  • The song of the African thrush is a sustained, clear warbling made up of different phrases repeated rather randomly in a sequence.

Where to find an African Thrush

It is common in well-wooded areas over much of western park of Sub-Saharan Africa.

SPOTTED MORNING THRUSH (CICHLADUSA GUTTATA)

Spotted Morning Thrush

It has brown eyes, a white breast band with black spots, this is the feature from which its name is derived, a long brown tail, brown feathers, brown underparts and long brownish legs. The Spotted Morning-Thrush resembles a Spotted Ground Thrush but you will find the two birds in totally different areas and thus you will only differentiate the two birds by their habitat.

Facts about the Spotted Morning Thrush

  • The spotted morning-thrush has much narrower white eyebrows and no white in the wings.
  • It has a sharp small thick brown beak.
  • The male and female birds are similar and you will not be able to differentiate them easily however, you will know the juveniles by their paler colours.
  • This Uganda bird feeds on insects like spiders and caterpillars and on insects and grain.

Where to find the Spotted Morning-Thrush

You’re likely to see this Uganda bird creeping in bushes and shrubbery, but you can also find the bird in around gardens and lodges once it decides to become Bold. The best place to see the Spotted Morning-Thrush in Uganda it is at Murchison Falls National Park

AFRICAN BLUE FLYCATCHER (ELMINIA LONGICAUDA)

African Blue Flycatcher

The African blue flycatcher is a dainty, pale, bright blue flycatcher with a short crest and long tail. The entire upper parts and tail are bright blue, with black lores and black flight feathers edged with blue, the under parts are greyish blue fading to whitish on the belly. The bill and legs are black. Juveniles are duller with faint greyish spotting on the head and wing coverts.  

Facts about the African Blue flycatcher

  • It measures 15–18 cm in length and weighs 7–12g
  • They are very active and you could watch them rush around in the canopy and middle levels of trees searching for food.
  • The song of the African blue flycatcher is a series of slow, the call is a quiet “tsip
  • Habitually they like fanning out their tails.
  • You will be able to find them in singles and in pairs.

Where to find the African Blue Flycatcher

The blue flycatchers are very active little birds found in almost every part of Uganda even in people’s gardens.

YELLOW BILLED KITE (MILVUS AEGYPTIUS)

Yellow Billed Kite

This is one of the most common and visible birds of prey on the African continent. The Yellow billed kite and White kite are very similar in appearance, and their range overlap when black kites migrate south from Europe and Asia and into Africa during the northern winter.  The easiest way to tell their difference is by looking at the beak whereby the yellow-billed kite has an all yellow beak, whereas the black kite has a black tip to its beak.

Facts about the Yellow Billed Kite

  • It is an all brown bird often with a lighter grey-brown head and a forked tail.
  • It is a migratory bird in the areas where seasons are more varied, and is only resident in tropical areas close to the equator.
  • It is a gregarious bird, and will sometimes come together in large numbers when food is plentiful.
  • Nests are made up of sticks and twigs and are constructed on tree branches, cliff ledges, pylons, and on buildings.
  • The female lays two to three eggs and incubates them for about 30 days and Chicks leave the nest after 42-56 days, but will depend on both parents for another 15-50 days.

Where to find the Yellow Billed Kite

They are found in almost all habitats and you can also find them in Ugandan National Parks like Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo National Park and much more.

AFRICAN DARTER (ANHINGA RUFA)

African Darter

The darters are black-brown water birds also referred to as the “snake bird” because of their habit of swimming with just their slender necks visible above the water. The African darter differs in appearance from the American darter most recognizably by its thin white lateral neck stripe against a rufous background colour.

Facts about the African Darter

  • It often swims with only the neck above water, hence the common name
  • It is around 79-80cm in height.
  • The feathers of the African darter do not contain any oil and are therefore not waterproof unlike other water birds.
  • They are large with a long thin neck, smaller heads, dagger like- bills and large tail.
  • The African darter’s diet consists mainly of fish, which it hunts in its watery habitat
  • The adult male bird is slightly larger than the female one.
  • It nests with up to 100 egrets, herons, cormorants and other darters, but remains an extremely territorial bird that will become aggressive with other males if it sees the need.
  • The female is more brown with a less distinct neck strips.
  • This darter is mainly quiet but does make a croak sound while nesting.
  • They are seasonally monogamous birds (sticking to one mate for one breeding season).
  • The female lays 3 to 5 eggs, which are a pale green colour.The African darter is known to live for up to 16 years.

Where to find the African Darter

They are mostly found in inland waters like lakes and rivers with fringing vegetation. In Uganda, you will be able to see them on Lake Victoria and the western parts of the country in Lake Edward & Lake George.

SCARLET-CHESTED SUN BIRD (CHALCOMITRA SENEGALENSIS)

The Scarlet-chested Sunbird is one of the more common species in Uganda, jet-black with a bold Scarlet chest patch and green head markings.

Facts about Scarlet-Chested Sunbird

  • You will see a relatively small bird about 15cm long.
  • The female Scarlet-chested Sunbird lays 2-3 eggs.
  • The adult male has a brilliant scarlet breast and small iridescent green cap and green throat.
  • The male defends the breeding territory.
  • The immature male and female birds look alike with some dull red feathers on the breast and a blackish throat.
  • The nest is pear-shaped with a hood over the entrance hole and suspended from a branch. It is built by the female using dry grass, stems, leaves and bound by spider web.

Where to find the Scarlet-Chested Sunbird

They can be seen in most of Uganda’s forest and National parks like Kidepo Valley National Park and Kibale Forest National Park.

GREY CROWNED CRANE (BALEARICA REGULORUM)

It is a bird in the crane family found in eastern and Southern Africa and is the national bird of Uganda. It is often recognized for the golden ‘crown’ of feathers that stand tall and proud on its head.

Facts about the Grey Crowned Crane

  • The grey crowned crane is the national bird of Uganda and features in the country’s flag and coat of arms.
  • The wings are predominantly white, but contain feathers with a range of colours, with a distinctive black patch at the very top.
  • The head has a crown of stiff golden feathers, the sides of the face are white, and there is a bright red inflatable throat pouch. The billis relatively short and grey and the legs are black.
  • It is believed to live for up to 22 years in the wild and up to 25 years in captivity.
  • The grey crowned crane has a breeding display involving dancing, bowing, and jumping which is an integral part of courtship, but also may be done at any time of the year.
  • They are monogamous and once they are ready they display behavior that help to attract a mate for example they dancing, they bow and also jump.
  • These cranes are omnivores, eating seeds, grain, plants, snakes, frogs, insects, worms, small fish and the eggs of aquatic animals.
  • They lay 2-5 eggs that they keep in the nests built on a flat and circular platform using the grass and some other available plant and incubation takes 28-31 days.

Where to find the Grey Crowned Crane

In Uganda they can be found in marshes, cultivated lands and grassy flatlands near rivers and lakes.

AFRICAN JACANA (ACTOPHILORNIS AFRICANUS)

African Jacana is identifiable by long toes and long claws that enable them to walk on floating vegetation in shallow lakes. They have chestnut upper parts with black wingtips, rear neck, and eye stripe. The underparts are also chestnut in the adults, only in juveniles they are white with a chestnut belly patch. The blue bill extends up as a coot -like head shield, and the legs and long toes are grey.

Facts about the African Jacana

  • The adult bird is 32 cm in height. Sexes are similar but the female bird is slightly larger than the male.
  • They are very noisy, calling a series of rapid repeated shrill squeals & rattling notes.
  • They lay four black-marked brown eggs in a floating nest.
  • The female birds display secondary sex characteristics.
  • They feed on water-lilies, insects, aquatic larvae and water seeds.
  • The adult bird is a striking chestnut and white water bird with a blue bill and a frontal shield.
  • Usually, you will find the African jacana singly or in pairs & sometimes in congregations.
  • Immature birds are a bit paler with a dull brown color above and a whitish-greyish tint on the frontal shield though it is hard to see it.

Where to find the African Jacana

A trip along Lake Victoria, Lake Albert or Lake Edward you will come across the African jacana.

AFRICAN DWARF KINGFISHER (ISPIDINA LECONTEI)

This is the world’s smallest kingfisher with a length of 10 centimeters and they are essentially dark blue small birds.

Facts about the African Dwarf Kingfisher

  • They are about 10cm in height and all the sexes are alike.
  • The African dwarf king fisher just like its name suggest, it’s the smallest among other species of Africa’s king fishers.
  • The adult birds are essentially blue with a rufous crown and black forehead and a paler belly with dark legs while the immature ones are duller with a black crown and a shorter black and reddish bill, dark scaling on the cheeks and breast.
  • You will easily identify them by their high pitched whistle sisi-sisiseu-sisisi…… which is quite different vocal from the other king fishers.

Where to find the African Dwarf Kingfisher

They are found in many forests around Uganda but you will commonly see them in Budongo forest.

BROAD-BILLED ROLLER (EURYSTOMUS GLAUCURUS)

Broad-Billed Roller

Broad-billed Roller is a member of the roller family of birds which breeds across tropical Africa. It has a warm back and head, lilac foreneck and breast, with the rest of the plumage mainly blue.

Facts of a Broad-billed Roller

  • The Broad-billed Roller is 29-30 cm in length
  • These rollers often perch prominently on trees, posts or overhead wires, like giant shrikes.
  • They are inactive for most of the day, apart from chasing intruders, but in late afternoon they hunt for the swarming ants and termites on which they feed.
  • This bird nests in an unlined hole in a tree cavity, laying 2-3 eggs.
  • The call of Broad-billed Roller is a snarling k-k-k-k-k-r-r-r-r-r 

Where to find a Broad-billed Roller

In Uganda they can be seen in open woodland with some tall trees, preferably near water, on trees, posts or overhead wires.

AFRICAN FIN FOOT (PODICA SENEGALENSIS)

African Fin Foot

The African Fin foot is an underwater specialist with a long neck, a striking sharp beak and bright red, lobed feet. The plumage varies by race, generally pale underneath and darker on top. The males are usually darker than the females.

Facts of the African Fin foot

  • The finfoot feeds on aquatic invertebrates, snails, fish and amphibians.
  • Finfoots are usually seen singly or in pairs
  • It is around 65-67 cm in height.
  • They are very secretive. Even experienced ornithologists see them very rarely, making them a prized sighting for birders and twitchers.
  • Because they are so elusive, it is not known if they spend most of their time in the water, where they are almost always seen, or on land.
  • The African fin foot is large brownish-black water bird with a bright red bill and legs.
  • Their time of breeding varies by area, usually coinciding with the rainy season.

Where to find the African Fin Foot

In Uganda the African Fin foot is regularly seen from boat trips on Lake Mburo and also on the Crater Lake at Jacana lodge, Queen Elizabeth National Park.

AFRICAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER (ELMINIA LONGICAUDA)

African Paradise Flycatcher

It is a common resident breeder in Africa south of the Sahara Desert. The African paradise flycatcher is a beautiful black-headed bird with two color morphs; white and rufous and many variations as well as hybrids with Red-bellied paradise flycatcher. The female has a browner tint to the under parts and lacks the wingbar and tail streamers while an adult male has a slightly crested black or blue-black head merging into grey under parts while the mantle, wings and tail is white instead of chestnut. Young birds are similar to the female but duller.

Facts about an African Paradise Flycatcher

  • It is insectivorous, often hunting by catching flies on the wing, and eating eggs, larvae and adults.
  • It has a cup-shaped nest always built in a tree and a clutch of two or three eggs are laid.
  • The African paradise flycatcher is a noisy bird with a harsh scolding, nasal and cheerful warbling which sometimes breaks into a rhythmical pi-pi-pi-pi-pi-pi-pi-pi-piiii.
  • The adult male African paradise flycatcher is about 17 cm long.
  • The male bird has the spectacular long plumed tail streamers which can be either white or rufous brown.

Where to find an African Paradise Flycatcher

In Uganda they can be seen in open grassland with isolated trees, plantations, open woodland, scrubland, gardens, in National Parks like Kibale National Park in the Eastern Parts of the country.

AFRICAN FISH EAGLE (HALIAEETUS VOCIFER)

African Fish Eagle

It is a large species of eagle found throughout sub-Saharan Africa where large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply occur. The adult is very distinctive in appearance with a mostly brown body with a white head like the bald eagle and large, powerful, black wings. The head, breast, and tail of African fish eagles are snow white, with the exception of the featherless face, which is yellow. The eyes are dark brown in colour with a hook-shaped beak, ideal for a carnivorous lifestyle.

Facts about an African Fish Eagle

  • The female, at 3.2–3.6 kg (7.1–7.9 lb) is larger than the male, at 2.0–2.5 kg
  • Males usually have wingspans around 2 m (6.6 ft), while females have wingspans of 2.4 m (7.9 ft).
  • African fish eagles breed during the dry seasonwhen water levels are low and they are believed to mate for life.
  • The female lays one to three eggs, which are primarily white with a few reddish speckles and incubation is mostly done by the female; the male incubates when the female leaves to hunt and incubation lasts for 42 to 45 days before the chicks hatch.
  • The African fish eagle feeds mainly on fish, which it swoops down upon from a perch in a tree, snatching the prey from the water with its large, clawed talons.
  • A fish eagle’s toes are coated in sharp barbs, called spiricules, which consequently help it to grasp fish and other slippery prey.
  • It is the national birdfound on the coat of arms Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Sudan.
  • The African Fish Eagle is notable for its high attractive call wee weee…wuwuwu.
  • Pairs also duet, one can call wi and the other immediately replies woo.
  • African Fish Eagles are stunning fishers and make marvelous stoops at fish as heavy as 10kg.

Where to find the African Fish Eagle

This bird is a resident on most lakes in Uganda and waterways but you will see it much easier in Mabamba wetland.

AFRICAN SKIMMER (RYNCHOPS FLAVIROSTRIS)

African Skimmers

African skimmers have long wings, with a black back, hindneck, and crown. The forehead and rest of the body is white, with a bright, long, orange beak that ends with a yellow tip (black tip when immature). Their short forked tail is white, and their legs are bright red. The African skimmer is generally uncommon and the total populations is estimated at 15,000-25,000 individuals.

Facts about the African Skimmer

  • Their bill structure is unique; the lower mandible is much longer than the upper mandible and is flattened sideways like scissor blades.
  • African skimmers fly in lines over calm waters, and dip their lower mandiblesin the water to feed.
  • They live at large tropical rivers with sandbanks for nesting and roosting.
  • They feed mostly at dawn and dusk and have good night vision.
  • Their voice is a sharp “kip-kip”
  • The colonies typically consist of less than 50 pairs and each pair lays 2–3 (rarely 4) eggs in a scrape in the sand.
  • The fish has been recorded as prey for African skimmers.
  • The immature bird is pale brown above with a shorter black bill and dull yellow legs.
  • These birds occur sporadically throughout East Africa but are regular on the Great Rift Valley lakes.

Where to find the African Skimmer

You will often see this bird flocked on the sandbanks or skimming above the water in Murchison Falls

PAPYRUS GONOLEK (LANIARIUS MUFUMBIRI)

Papyrus Gonolek

The papyrus gonolek is a medium-sized bush-shrike with 18 cm (7 in) long. The sexes are similar; the crown is dull yellow, the head, upper parts, wings and tail are black apart from a broad white bar on the wings. The breast and upper belly are vivid orange-crimson, and the lower belly whitish. It has specialised habitat requirements, being restricted to papyrus swamps.

Facts about the Papyrus Gonolek

  • The species occurs singly or in pairs in papyrus swamps, lurking among the vegetation and only flying occasionally, usually a short distance over water to another patch of papyrus.
  • Its diet consists of mainly insects such as beetles, flies and ants, but also includes snails, fruit and seeds when available.
  • The nest is probably built in a small bush in reedbeds.
    Its presence can often be detected by its calls “U-tzeu-U-tzee”.
  • Little is known of its breeding biology.
  • This African bird is locally common but quite shy and you might find it difficult to observe in dense papyrus swamps.

Where to find a Papyrus Gonolek

In Uganda, the Mbamba Swamp would be the best site to view these birds during your birding tour.

BAR-TAILED TROGON (APALODERMA VITTATUM)

Bar-Tailed Trogon

The bill and feet are yellow, and the tail, long and broad as usual for trogons, has the underside narrowly barred with black and white. The male’s head is blue-black with bronze iridescence. Below the eye are two yellow or orange patches of bare skin; above the eye is a yellow or grey patch. The upper breast is iridescent from violet to blue-green; the rest of the underparts are red. The back is green and the upper surface of the tail is blue-black or purple-black. The female’s head is brown with less ornamental bare skin and its throat and breast are light cinnamon.

Facts about the Bar Tailed Trogon

  • The bar-tailed trogon averages about 28 cm (11 inches) long
  • The vocalizations are described as a yelping crescendo, “yaow, yow, yow, yow…or wuk-wuk-wuk-wuk….” The female gives “a whining chee-uu.
  • The immature is similar to the female, but has a white belly and pale spots on the wings formed by the tips of the wing coverts and inner secondaries.

Where to find the Bar-Tailed Trogon

You will be able to watch this bird in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park especially in Buhoma area.

BLACK BEE EATER (MEROPS GULARIS)

Black Bee Eater

It is a predominantly black bird, with a scarlet chin and throat, a streaked breast, a pale blue eyebrow, blue belly, undertail-coverts and rump, and rufous primaries and grows to a length of about 20 cm (8 in).

Facts about the Black Bee Eater

  • This is one of the dark forest-dependent bee-eaters.
  • The immature bird is dull and lacks the scarlet throat.
  • Their flights are from perches at all level but are usually high in the canopy.
  • Black Bee Eaters have very high pitched sounds of siit sit siit p’sit p’sit seet.
  • Black Bee Eaters are shy and they confide in the forest.

Where to find the Black Bee Eater

You will find this bird in the western part of the Pearl of Africa in places like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or the riparian woodland along Chambura and Ishasha rivers.

THE GREAT BLUE TURACO (CORYTHAEOLA CRISTATA)

Great Blue Turaco

It is the largest species of turaco and measures 70–76 cm (28–30 in) in length with a mass of 800–1,231 g (1.764–2.714 lb) and their colors vary from blue, green to purple.They typically have brilliantly colored red flight feathers or bright red markings around the eyes and the crest of the head. Their feathers have traditionally been used as a status symbol for native African tribe leaders.

Facts about the Great Blue Turaco

  • Turacos in general, however, may have the looks, but they don’t have the moves. Physically, they have short, round wings that make “flying” a little more like “gliding” when they make a leap from one tree to another. 
  • They feed some on shoots, buds, and leaves and will indulge in the occasional insect if the mood strikes them.
  • There are typically two different types that they use. They are most commonly heard at dawn and dusk and during mating season and their primary call is a harsh and deep tone that almost sounds like they are repeating the word “cow” over and over. 
  • During courtship which begins around October, they are very entertaining, male Turacos try to entice their prospective mates by calling loudly and raising and lowering the large crest on their heads.
  • Females will typically lay 2 eggs (blue, naturally!) and parents take turns incubating them for about a month.
  • Turacos, in general, are shy, and typically do not come down to ground level except to drink or bathe.
  • Great Blue Turacos are hunted for their meatas well as their feathers. 

Where to find the Great Blue Turaco

In Uganda they can be found near the shores of Lake Victoria in the trees.

BLACK HEADED LAPWING (VANELLUS TECTUS)

Black Headed Lapwing

They are medium-large waders with a black head other than a white forehead, lower face and bands across the rear head and nape. There is a wispy black crest like northern lapwing and the bill and legs are red. The tail is white, tipped black.  In flight, the black-headed lapwing’s upper wings have black flight feathers and brown coverts separated by a white bar. The underwings are white with black flight feathers.

Facts about Headed Lapwing

  • It often feeds in drier habitats, such as golf courses and grassy scrub, picking insects and other invertebrates from the ground.
  • The height is 26cm and the nominate species is an attractive spike-crested lapwing with a white chin and fore crown and nape patches.
  • The black headed lapwing are quite vocal and more so during flight, kreek-kreek-kreek-kreek-kreek!
  • You will identify this bird by the head, breast and wing markings and all sexes are all alike.
  • If you look at the Black Headed Lapwing in the front view it shows a narrow blacktie from the throat to the breast.

Where to find the Black Headed Lapwing

You will be able to see them while you are on a game drive in the North of Murchison Falls.

BLUE KINGFISHER (ALCEDO QUADRIBRACHYS)

Blue Kingfisher

This bird has the typical short-tailed, large-headed kingfisher profile; it has blue upperparts, orange underparts and a long bill.

Facts about the Blue Kingfisher

  • The glossy white eggs are laid in a nest at the end of a burrow in a riverbank.
  • It feeds mainly on fish, caught by diving, and has special visual adaptations to enable it to see prey under water.
  • The female Blue kingfisher bird lays 2-3 eggs in a tree-hole nest and both the female and male can incubate.
  • The bird uses its long beak to poke into water when looking for food.
  • The young birds have pale colours.

Where to find the Blue Kingfisher in Uganda

You will generally find this Blue Kingfisher staying in mangroves, marshes and lakes and in Uganda they can be seen at Bigodi wetland sanctuary

COMMON OSTRICH (STRUTHIO CAMELUS)

Common Ostrich

Common ostriches usually weigh from 63 to 145 kilograms (139–320 lb), or as much as two adult humans. The feathers of adult males are mostly black, with white primaries and a white tail. Females and young males are grayish-brown and white. The head and neck of both male and female ostriches is nearly bare, with a thin layer of down. The skin of the female’s neck and thighs is pinkish gray while the male’s is gray or pink dependent on subspecies.

Facts about the Common Ostrich

  • The common ostrich’s diet consists mainly of plant matter, though it also eats invertebrates.
  • It lives in nomadic groups of 5 to 50 birds.
  • If cornered, it can attack with a kick of its powerful legs.
  • When threatened, the ostrich will either hide itself by lying flat against the ground, or run away.
  • Ostriches like dust bathing and at times you may find them burying their heads in the sand while the rest of the body is seen.
  • Mating patterns differ by geographical region, but territorial males fight for a harem of two to seven females.
  • The common ostrich is the largest living species of bird and lays the largest eggs of any living bird.
  • With their acute eyesight and hearing, common ostriches can sense predatorssuch as lions from far away. 
  • When being pursued by a predator, they have been known to reach speeds in excess of 70 km/h (43 mph)and can maintain a steady speed of 50 km/h (31 mph), which makes the common ostrich the world’s fastest two-legged animal.
  • Common ostriches become sexually maturewhen they are 2 to 4 years old and females mature about six months earlier than males.
  • Ostriches walk at an average of 4km/hour.
  • The male bird is known for its booming call which is a deep vibrant hooo hooo hooomph hooo that you can sometimes mistake it for a lion’s roar!

Where to find the Common Ostrich in Uganda

In Uganda you can see it in Kidepo Valley National Park and the far northeastern part of the country.

LESSER FLAMINGOS (PHOENICONAIAS MINOR)

Lesser Flamingos

This is a species of flamingo occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa. The lesser flamingo is the smallest species of flamingo, though it is a tall and large bird by most standards. 

Facts about Lesser Flamingos

  • The standing height is around 80 to 90 cm (31 to 35 in).
  • The lesser flamingo may be the most numerous species of flamingo, with a population that (at its peak) probably numbered up to two million individual birds.
  • They lay a single chalky-white eggon a mound they build of mud.
  • This species feeds primarily on Sprirulina, algaewhich grow only in alkaline lakes.

Where to find Lesser Flamingo

On your trip in Uganda, they can be seen in Lake Munyanyange in the Katwe area of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

HAMERKOP (SCOPUS UMPRETTA)

Hamerkop

The hamerkop is a medium-sized water bird, standing 56 cm (22 in) high and weighing 470 g (17 oz). The tail is faintly barred with darker brown. The sexes are alike and fledglings resembled adults the bill is long, 80 to 85 mm (3.1–3.3 in), and slightly hooked at the end. It resembles the bill of a shoebill, and is quite compressed and thin, particularly at the lower half of the mandible. The bill is brown in young birds, but becomes black by the time a bird fledges.

Facts about the Hamerkop

  • The hamerkop has, for unknown reasons, partially webbed feet.
  • Its tail is short and its wings are big, wide, and round-tipped.
  • The hamerkop is mostly active during the day, often resting at noon during the heat of the day.
  • The only call it usually makes when alone is a flight-call, a shrill “nyip” or “kek”
  • The hamerkop is mostly silent when alone, but is fairly vocal when in pairs or in groups.
  • This species normally feeds alone or in pairs, but also feeds in large flocks sometimes.
  • A bird flies slowly low over the water with legs dangling and head looking down, then dipping feet down and hovering momentarily when prey is sighted.
  • The diet also includes shrimp, insects, and rodents.
  • Nests have been recorded to take between 10 and 14 weeks to build.
  • It may shuffle one foot at a time on the bottom or suddenly open its wings to flush prey out of hiding.

Where to find the Hamerkop

In Uganda this bird is always seen on the shores of most Lakes and in some swamps.

MALACHITE KINGFISHER (ALCEDO CRISTATA)

Malachite Kingfisher

The Malachite kingfisher is about 12 cm long. The adult bird is blue above with a slightly shaggy blue-green and black barred crown which extends down to the eye, and a bright red bill.

Facts about the Malachite Kingfisher

  • The sexes look alike but the young ones are duller than the adults.
  • This bird feeds on fish, insects (the aquatic insects) and crustaceans.
  • This bird is always seen flying low over water.
  • You will identify the immature birds by thier shorter black bill, brownish-roufus underparts, and a whitish belly.
  • The flight of the malachite kingfisher is rapid; the short rounded wings whirring around until they appear as a mere blur.
  • The Malachite Kingfisher bird calls a short sharp rather unmusical chht, that may run on into a dry chitter.

Where to find the Malachite Kingfisher Bird

You will often find these birds in singles and pairs besides all types of water fringed with vegetation from sea-level to 3000m.

MARABOU STORK (LEPTOPTILOS CRUMENIFERUS)

Marabou Stork

The Marabou stork has a naked head and neck or has reddish showing scabby black spots at close range and a downy white neck ruff. These Uganda birds also have two inflatable air sacs: a bright red one at the base of the neck, and a pink pendulous ballon which is variable in size and hangs below the neck.

Facts about the Marabou Stork

  • It has a huge stork about 152cm with grey black wings and white underparts.
  • The legs are dark grey but often appear white as a splattered with excrement.
  • Sexes are alike but the female is slightly smaller.
  • The brooding adult has light greyish wings, white-edged wing coverts and a fluffier under tail while the non-brooding adults are darker grey.
  • The immature birds are duller with brown and not grey wings.
  • Marabou storks are massive in flight, soaring on broad wings with neck retracted, but will make short flights when the neck is extended.
  • Marabou storks are silent when away from the nest, but breeding birds give a wide range of bleating, grunting and squealing noises, as well as bill clattering.

Where to find the Marabou stork

In Uganda you will find singles to gatherings of hundreds common and widespread in a range of habitats from city rubbish dumps lake shores and also at predator kills.

PAPYRUS YELLOW WARBLER (CHLOROPETA GRACILIROSTRIS)

Papyrus Yellow Warbler

The Papyrus Yellow Warbler is very similar to the Mountain Yellow Warbler, about 14cm, but the mantle, wings and tail are tawny-brown, and the yellow underparts are tinged tawny on the flanks and vent.

Facts about the Papyrus Yellow Warbler

  • You will not easily differentiate the sexes because they look alike.
  • The Papyrus Yellow Warbler sings infrequently, but it sings it makes varied chips and churrs that recall a startling more than a warbler.

Where to find the Papyrus Yellow Warbler in Uganda

In Uganda, you’re likely to find this bird in Kibale Forest National Park

PELICANS (PELECANUS SPP)

Pelicans

The pelicans are distinctive large water birds often seen swimming in tight flotillas on open lakes of the Great Rift Valley. In Uganda we have the Great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) and the Pink-backed pelican (Pelecanus rufescens) 

Facts about the Pelicans

  • They can be easily identified both at rest and in flight.
  • These water birds are separated from each other by their size, color and behavior.

Where to find Pelicans in Uganda

These birds are seen along the Kazinga Channel and in Queen Elizabeth National Park so don’t miss a chance of watching these beautiful water birds while visiting the pearl of Africa.

Facts about the Great White Pelican

  • This adult water bird is a massive black and white pelican with a pink and yellow bill pouch and measures around 178cm.
  • The female pelicans have orange and yellow facial skins while the males have purplish ones.
  • Both sexes have a yellow bill with a pink tip and an orange knob where the bill joins forehead.
  • The breeding adult has a pinkish hue and a short ragged crest while the duller non breeding adult has a greyish bill.
  • The immature pelicans (A bird that has moulted its juvenile plumage but has not yet attained its full adult plumage) are greyish brown with dull bare parts.
  • The juvenile birds are much darker and browner. (A juvenile pelican one with the first full- feathered plumage)
  • The adult birds show extensive black flight feathers contrasting with the white greater and median coverts.

Facts about the White Pelican

  • In their habitats, you can find them in either single or large flocks widespread on the open lakes of the Rift Valley.
  • They normally fish together in large flocks swimming forward in a horse shoe pattern with their bills open ready to catch it’s prey.

PIED KINGFISHER (CESYLE RUDIS)

Pied Kingfisher

This bird is about 17cm long, white with a black mask, a white super cilium and black breast bands.The crest is neat and the upper parts are barred in black.

Facts about the Pied Kingfisher

  • You will know it is male if it has a narrow second breast band and you will know it is female if it has a single broken breast band.
  • The Pied Kingfisher will normally have a clutch of 3-6 white eggs.
  • The Pied Kingfisher is mostly resident and doesn’t migrate except for short distances and seasonal movements.
  • This African birds feeds mainly on fish, although it will also feed on Crustaceans and large aquatic insects such as dragon fly larvae.
  • The bird nests in holes excavated in a vertical mud bank about five feet above water.
  • The nest tunnel is about 4-5 feet deep and ends in a chamber.

Where to find the Pied Kingfisher in Uganda

In Uganda, you will find the Pied Kingfisher mainly around Lake Victoria and in Murchison Falls National Park.

RED-THROATED BEE-EATER (MEROPS BULOCKI)

Red Throated Bee-Eater

The bird has a sharp small black beak. The bird’s forehead is green and his lower head is brown in color. The back feathers are green, the bird has brown breast bands. The tail is a mixture of brown and green lines with brown being more dominant than green. This bird also has a blue lower under side. The legs are small and black and the bird has a white spot on the blue color available on its underside.

Facts about the Red-throated Bee eaters

  • The red-throated bee-eater is very colorful small bird about 23cm long.
  • You will identify the bird by its distinctive red neck/throat.
  • Both males and females are similar, although the young ones are paler.
  • The Red-throated Bee-eater calls with a variety of short musical yaps, churls and thrills, which are usually higher pitched than those of white fronted bee-eaters.
  • The red-throated bee-eater lays 2-3 eggs and these are incubated by either sex.

Where to find the Red-throated Bee-eater

During your birding tour in Uganda, you will find Red-throated Bee-eaters breeding in the tall sandbanks near Kazinga Channel, Lake Albert and on the Nile River below Murchison Falls

RED HEADED BLUEBILL (SPERMOPHAGA RUFICAPILLA)

Red Headed Bluebill

This bird is heavy billed bird about 14cm long. The adult male bird has the whole head, breast and flanks red, with a red rump and black tail, its bill is grey with pink cutting edges while the female bird is similar to the male one but has bold white spots from the breast to vent.

Facts about the Red-headed Bluebill

  • The immature bird is dark slate above with a variable red wash to the head breast and rump, rich dark brown below, with a blue-grey bill.
  • These birds feed on small insects like spiders, on grain and on seeds.
  • Red-headed Bluebills have a whistled song that is rather sibilant: it starts with a short note, then a short series of rising notes, and a longer series of rising upslurs si-sisi-su-wii si-sis-swiswiswiswiswiswi with the emphasis on the last note.

Where to find the Red-headed Bluebill

In Uganda you will easily see these birds in lodge grounds in Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary near Kibale and Buhoma in Bwindi National Park

ROSS’S TURACO (MUSOPHAGA ROSSAE)

This is a large bird with about 54cm long with a bulbous bright yellow bill, yellow eye patches and a brilliant crimson crest and outer wings. This bird has a long tail and broad round wings. It also has three toes that point forward on each leg, while the fourth toe can be rotated forward or backwards.

Facts about the Ross’ Turaco

  • Both sexes look alike and the immature bird is duller with a blackish bill and a small dull frontal shield.
  • The song of Ross’s Turaco birds is often a duet with a series of musical growls slowly rising in tone to climax in a rolling bubbling for up to 15 seconds which then descends before ending abruptly.
  • The female Ross’s Turaco lays 2 eggs and both the male and female share time incubating the eggs for 21-24 days.
  • The bird has a lifespan of approximately 5-9 years.
  • Both parents feed the downy chicks by regurgitation. They keep the nest clean by eating the egg shells and the chicks’ droppings.

Where to find the Ross’s Turaco

In Uganda you will see these birds in forested habitats bordering wetlands and rivers. They can also be seen in places like Entebbe Botanical Gardens and Kibale Forest National Park.

SADDLE-BILLED STORK (EPHIPPIORHYNCHUS SENEGALENSIS)

Saddle-BilledStork

This is a very large black and white stork with about 142 cm long, with a very long tri-colored bill, red and black with a yellow saddle and two small pendulous yellow or red wattles. The bird is spectacularly plumaged having the head, neck, back, wings and tail black, and the rest of the body and the primary flight feathers are also white. This African bird has very long legs with pink knees and feet.

Facts about the Saddle-billed stork

  • The male Saddle-billed Stork has dark eyes, while the female is slightly smaller and has yellow eyes.
  • The immature birds are largely dingy grey-brown coloured with some white patches on the back, a blackish bill which lacks the saddle and duller legs.
  • Like most storks, the Saddle-billed Stork flies with the neck out-stretched, not retracted like herons.
  • While in flight, the large heavy bill is kept drooping somewhat below belly height, giving the bird a very unusual appearance.
  • Saddle-billed Storks are usually silent birds, but when breeding the birds give descending squealing wheezes.
  • It feeds mainly on fish, frogs and crabs, but can also feed on small birds and small reptiles.
  • It moves in a deliberate and stately manner as it hunts, in a way similar to the larger herons.

Where to find the Saddle-billed Stork

This Uganda bird breeds in marshes, forested water lands, other highlands and in tropical low lands. In Uganda you will easily see these birds on game drive north of Murchison Falls and at Kazinga Channel

SHOEBILL (BALAENICEPS REX)

Shoebill

The shoebill is a unique bird and is one of the world’s most rare birds found in the Pearl of Africa that is Uganda.

Facts about the Shoebill

  • As its appearance shows this “Whale headed Stork” was once thought to be a relative of the storks but its ability to fly with its neck retracted suggests affinity with pelicans or heroines.
  • The shoebill is generally grey and white when they mature to adult birds but younger juvenile ones are browner in appearance.
  • It measures about four feet tall and weighs more than 12 pounds!
  • They have very powerful wings which enable them to be swift as it flies or dives to get its prey.
  • Shoebills primarily live in pairs “male & female” although groups may sometimes gather at favoured feeding spots.
  • Shoebills look sluggish and can stand motionless for long periods as it waits for it’s prey.
  • They can walk very slowly through the murky waters with their bill in the waters for as long as 30minutes but if something comes along it simply thrust its body forward and grabs it with its distinctive bill.

Where to find the shoebill

In Uganda it is easily seen in Mabamba Swamp on Lake Victoria, on the Nile below the Murchison falls and Lake Albert in Semuliki National Park.

SPOTTED MORNING THRUSH (cichladusa guttata)

Spotted Morning Thrush

It has brown eyes, a white breast band with black spots, this is the feature from which its name is derived, a long brown tail, brown feathers, brown underparts and long brownish legs. The Spotted Morning-Thrush resembles a Spotted Ground Thrush but you will find the two birds in totally different areas and thus you will only differentiate the two birds by their habitat.

Facts about the Spotted Morning Thrush

  • The spotted morning-thrush has much narrower white eyebrows and no white in the wings.
  • It has a sharp small thick brown beak.
  • The male and female birds are similar and you will not be able to differentiate them easily however, you will know the juveniles by their paler colours.
  • This Uganda bird feeds on insects like spiders and caterpillars and on insects and grain.

Where to find the Spotted Morning-Thrush

You’re likely to see this Uganda bird creeping in bushes and shrubbery, but you can also find the bird in around gardens and lodges once it decides to become Bold.

The best place to see the Spotted Morning-Thrush in Uganda it is at Murchison Falls National Park

YELLOW-SPOTTED BARBETS (Buccanodon duchaillui)

Yellow Spotted Barbet

This is a small bird with about 71cm. The adult is boldly marked blue-black forest barbet that is extensively spotted and barred with yellow. The bird also has a scarlet forehead patch, and a long curving yellow line eye to hind neck.

Facts about the Yellow-spotted Barbet

  • The female Yellow-Spotted Barbet normally lays 2-3 eggs and both mum and dad participate in incubation.
  • The call of a Yellow-Spotted Barbet is typically a low purred snoring trill delivered from high in the canopy, the bird also gives a hooting boo-boo-boo
  • The birds are very active in the canopy and around fruiting trees, often in mixed species flocks from 1150-2400 meters.
  • Immature birds are similar to the adults but you will be able to identify them because they are less well marked, lack the red fore head and their black bill has a pale yellow base.

Where to find the Yellow-Spotted Barbet

On your birding tour to Uganda you will easily watch these birds in Kibale National Park and Mabira Forest.

SECRETARY BIRD (SAGITTARIUS SERPENTARIUS)

Secretary Bird

With its stork-like, long, wedge-shaped tail and crest of black feathers on the back of its head, the secretary bird is unlike any other raptor. The crest resembles a number of quil pens, as used in the past by secretaries.

Facts about the Secretary bird

  • Its flight feathers are black.
  • The powerful legs are used for striking prey and running after faster quarry.
  • This bird walks up to 24km (15miles) a day through grassland searching for prey.
  • It feeds on grasshoppers, small mammals, frogs, snakes, lizards and tortoises.
  • The bird flushes out the prey by stamping on tufts of grass.
  • The wings act as shields when the bird attacks snakes.

Where to find the Secretary Bird

On your birding tour in Uganda you will have high chances of viewing this bird when you visit Queen Elizabeth National Park

Please note that on your birding trip, you may need birding binoculars, an ethnology book for better identification of Uganda birds.

When packing for a birding safari, proper packing is essential. Keep your equipment safe and minimize luggage difficulties. Below are some of the requirements you will need to carry before setting off for your birding tour. 

Field clothing

Wearing something long protects your body from the bites and burn. Clothes should be light and with neutral safari colors whether for ladies or gents since temperatures get high and cool times of the day are generally mild. Don’t forget to carry along your birding hut and the boots.

Camera

Pack extra photo batteries, memory cards, cleaning tools or other camera accessories as well. This can be especially crucial when seeing unfamiliar birds or birding in foreign regions and you won’t want to forget your camera.

Field Guide Book

Choose guide you are comfortable using and that are a good size for guide use, without being bulky or over whelming for your luggage. You may need several different guides depending on the length of your trip and the number of destinations. You can also download the necessary guide book then use on your phone since the world is going digital, in this way you can avoid carrying bulky stuff.

Binoculars

Spotting birds on any safari needs a pair of binoculars to spot them in the air and trees. You will definitely want to capture that moment whether for a Bee-eater or a weaver bird, so don’t forget to purchase one because you will need it for the identification of the birds.

A field bag

Your field bag is essential to carry your gear, no matter where you may go birding. you will need a suitcase to carry all of your birding safari essentials but then you will also need to carry a field bag.

Best Time for Birding

Uganda birding can be done throughout the year however the best season for a birding safari is during the dry season in the months of January to March when forests are not slippery for hiking.

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