Birds

Birds are everywhere and can be spotted at all locations, even hotel gardens. The best time to watch them in the highlands is in the morning. They are generally more active during dry weather but the rainy season is when they breed. Breeding seasons are from February to May and September to November. This is when they are most active and the chances of seeing and hearing them increase.

In the Virungas 295 species have been recorded. Sixteen of these are endemic to the Albertine Rift (see the bottom of the page), thirteen of which have been recorded in Mgahinga. Grauer’s swamp warbler is vulnerable to extinction and only lives in three known swamp locations.

In Bwindi there have been over 410 species recorded of which more than 50% are true forest birds. It is a key birding destination in Uganda, significant even on the continental scale. All of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemics can be located in Bwindi. Bwindi has three bird species that are relictual, and the only surviving representatives of their respective genera: African green broadbill, Grauer’s and short-tailed warbler. Among the 30 raptors in Bwindi, the most common are crowned hawk eagle, mountain buzzard, rufous-chested sparrowhawk, harrier hawk, spotted eagle owl, long crested eagle and augur buzzard. Others include migratory black kites, nocturnal owls, the secretive bat hawk, Cassin’s hawk eagle, African hobby and steppe buzzard.

Echuya is also an Important Bird Area, with 100 species recorded. There are 43 of 87 highland biome species in the reserve, which include such rare species as the evocatively named handsome francolin, Rwenzori batis, strange weaver and dusky crimson-wing. Others include the Rwenzori turaco, redthroated alethe, Archer’s robin-chat, collared apalis, red-faced woodland-warbler and regal sunbird.

 

Albertine Rift Endemic Bird Checklist from Rossouw and Sacchi, 1998 (updated by the Gorilla Highlands team in 2016 )

SpeciesMgahingaBwindiEchuyaRwenzori
Handsome Francolin
Rwenzori Turaco
Montane Nightjar
Dwarf Honeyguide
African Green Broadbill
Archer's Robin-Chat
Red-throated Alethe
Kivu Ground Thrush
Chapin's Flycatcher
Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher
Red-faced Woodland Warbler
Grauer's Rush Warbler
Montane Masked Apalis
Collared Apalis
Grauer's Warbler
Short-tailed Warbler
Stripe-breasted Tit
Rwenzori Batis
Blue-headed Sunbird
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Regal Sunbird
Purple-breasted SunSunbird
Strange Weaver
Dusky Crimsonwing
Shelley's Crimsonwing

Photo: Blasio Byekwaso

This Travel Guide is based on the the Gorilla Highlands Interactive eBook, an award-winning labour of love that gives you a comprehensive insight into the cultures, languages, people and nature that make our area so special. By purchasing the ebook you will contribute to an ambitious initiative that aims to transform southwestern Uganda.