The Birds of East Africa: Why Uganda is a Birdwatchers Paradise

Uganda's National Bird: Grey Crowned Crane
Uganda is the premier birdwatching destination in East Africa. With over 1000 species of birds calling Uganda home, a trip here is simply a delight for opportunistic birders like myself. Read on and discover 50 of the birds that we saw and photographed on our 2 week trip to Uganda.

Birds of Entebbe Botanical Gardens

Entebbe Botanical Gardens is just a short distance from Uganda's main international airport and it's possible to walk here from the majority of tourist lodges. It took us 30 minutes to get here from Carpe Diem Guest House and we were rewarded with some cool bird sightings including a hamerkop building a nest.
Marabou Stork in Entebbe Botanical Gardens
Marabou Stork
Crowned Hornbill in Entebbe Botanical Gardens
Crowned Hornbill
Hamerkop in Entebbe Botanical Gardens

Birds at Entebbe's Guest Lodges

The gardens of the various guest houses in Entebbe are oases popular with Uganda's birds. We sat outside at both Carpe Diem and Karibu Guest Houses and watched as the birds simply came to us. Check out the colorful and entertaining species that we saw below.
Red-chested Sunbird in Entebbe
Red-chested Sunbird
Black-headed Gonolek in Entebbe
Black-headed Gonolek
Eastern-gray Plantain-eater in Entebbe
Eastern-grey Plantain-eater
Double-toothed Barbet in Entebbe
Double-toothed Barbet

Ugandan Birds by the Roadside

Our Matoke Tours guide, Geoffrey Katende, had an immense knowledge of the birds of Uganda and an eagle-eye for spotting them. Outside of the urban area around Kampala and Entebbe, the traffic in Uganda was very light. Many times on our 9-day East African safari adventure, Geoffrey would hit the brakes, pull out his binoculars, and point out fascinating birds. Here are some of the many birds that Geoffrey spotted along the road.
Weaver bird nests in Uganda
weaver nests
Weaver bird in Uganda
weaver bird (the subspecies are hard to tell apart)
Black-shouldered kite on a trip to Uganda
Black-shouldered Kite
African Open-billed Stork on a trip to Uganda
African Open-billed Stork
Uganda's African-paradise flycatcher
African-paradise Flycatcher

Birds of Uganda's Bigodi Swamp

Community run Bigodi Swamp near Uganda's Kibale National Forest was a treasure-trove of bird species. Our guide, Rogers, had a special knack for making the birds come to us. I like to think of him as the Bird-whisperer of Bigodi Swamp.
Uganda's blue turaco bird in Bigodi Wetlands
Blue Turaco
Uganda's blue turaco bird in Bigodi Wetlands
Yellow-billed barbet in Uganda's Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary
Yellow-billed Barbet

Birds of Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) in Western Uganda may be most well-known for the Big Five but we were impressed by the magnificent diversity of bird species that call the park home. Read on to discover our favorite sightings.
Verreaux's Eagle in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda
Verreaux's Eagle
Uganda's Red-necked spurfowl
Red-necked Spurfowl
Pallid Harrier in QENP Uganda
Pallid Harrier
White-browed Coucal in Uganda
White-browed Coucal
Uganda's National Bird: Grey Crowned Crane
Grey Crowned Crane
Southern Red Bishop bird in Uganda
Southern Red Bishop
A Marshall Eagle in Western Uganda
Martial Eagle
Pin-tailed Whydah in Uganda
Pin-tailed Whydah

Birds of the Kazinga Channel

During our trip to Uganda, we took a 2 hour boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park. While the Kazinga Channel is known for a great concentration of hippos, we were pleased to see a wide variety of birds as well. Flocks of birds followed in the wake of our boat and we saw some extraordinary species both on the water and near the shore.
Pied Kingfisher spotted on a boat cruise on Uganda's Kazinga Channel
Pied Kingfisher
Yellow-billed Oxpecker on the Kazinga Channel in QENP Uganda
Yellow-billed Oxpecker
African Fish Eagle on Uganda's Kazinga Channel
African Fish Eagle
Albino Malachite Kingfisher on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda
Albino Malachite Kingfisher

Birds Near Western Uganda's Lake Mutanda 

The area in and around Lake Mutanda is the staging area for treks to see Uganda's famous mountain gorillas. Lake Mutanda also sits near the crossroads of three nations: Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We saw an amazing array of birds on our trip to the region.
Black Crake near Lake Mutanda in Uganda
Black Crake
Souza's Shrike in Western Uganda
Souza's Shrike
White-browed Robin-chat in Western Uganda
White-browed Robin-chat

Birds Near Uganda's Lake Bunyonyi

It's worth traveling to Uganda's Lake Bunyonyi to build a little respite into an otherwise hectic safari. We took a boat cruise on Lake Buyonyi and stopped on an island where the local lodge hosted a "bird restaurant". I was most impressed by the abundance of Speckled Mousebirds that we saw on the trip.
Speckled Mousebird on Uganda's Lake Bunyonyi
Speckled Mousebird
Speckled Mousebirds on Uganda's Lake Bunyonyi

Birds of Mburo National Park

Mburo National Park is Uganda's smallest savanna park but features a wide range of birds flitting about in the acacia trees. Check out the abundance of bird species that we spied on our game drives in the park.
Woodland Kingfisher in Uganda's Mburo National Park
Woodland Kingfisher
long-crested eagle in Mburo National Park in Uganda
Long-crested Eagle
African Wattled Lapwing in Uganda
African Wattled Lapwing
Little Bee-eater in Uganda
Little Bee-eater
Little Green Bee-eater in Uganda's Mburo National Park
Little Green Bee-eater
Grey-backed Fiscal in Uganda
Grey-backed Fiscal
Broad-billed Roller in Uganda
Broad-billed Roller
Lilac-breasted Roller in Mburo National Park in Uganda
Lilac-breasted Roller
Common Cuckoo in Uganda
Common Cuckoo
Collared sunbird in Uganda
Collared Sunbird
Collared sunbird on a flower in Uganda

Birds on Uganda's Lake Victoria

Back in Entebbe, we took a sunset 'cruise' on Lake Victoria. Paddling along in a wooden canoe equipped with an outboard motor, we explored the channels through the papyrus swamp at lake's edge and saw more of the incredible birds of Uganda.
Malachite Kingfisher on Lake Victoria in Uganda
Malachite Kingfisher
Purple Heron on Lake Victoria in Uganda
Purple Heron
Long-toed Lapwing in Uganda
Long-toed Lapwing
Uganda Birds: Black-winged Stilt
Black-winged Stilt
Birds of Uganda: Spur-winged Lapwing
Spur-winged Lapwing

Birds of Mabamba Swamp

Sure, a trip to Uganda's Mabamba Swamp offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see shoe-billed storks but this wetlands area about an hour away from Entebbe Airport offers so much more for birdwatchers who take time to arrange a guide and get out upon the water. 
African Jacana in Mabamba Swamp, Uganda
African Jacana
Common Squacco Heron in Uganda
Common Squacco Heron
Saddle-billed Stork in Uganda
Saddle-billed Stork
Yellow-billed Ducks spotted on a trip to Mabamba Swamp near Entebbe
Yellow-billed Ducks

Uganda's Star Birding Attraction: The Shoebill Stork

Yes, I wanted to see mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, and more on our safari in Uganda. The one wildlife opportunity that tipped the balance for us toward Uganda from other safari destinations in East Africa was the Shoebill. Your chances of seeing Shoe-billed Storks in Uganda's Mabamba Swamp are higher than probably anywhere else in the world and just an hour from Entebbe, the journey is very accessible. I was so excited to see this pinnacle of the Ugandan bird hierarchy sitting among the reeds.
Shoebill in Uganda
As you can see, birdwatching opportunities abound on a trip to Uganda. Everyplace we visited, the air was filled with birdsong and we spotted an incredible variety of species on our journey. I've shared 50 with you today, but this only includes those birds that were nice enough to stay still long enough for me to get a picture. In reality, we probably caught a glimpse of more than 100 out of Uganda's 1000+ bird species. What an amazing adventure!

For help identifying the birds of Uganda before, during, and after your safari, I recommend picking up a copy of Birds of East Africa.
All photos in this post were taken with a Canon Powershot SX60 bridge camera with a 65x optical zoom lens.

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The Birds of East Africa: Why Uganda is a Birdwatchers Paradise

More Sidewalk Safari Travel Blog Posts About Our Trip to UgandaTracking Uganda's Nkuringo Family of Mountain Gorillas: Hiking the Path Less TraveledIn Search of Shoebill Storks in Mabamba Swamp: Uganda's Ultimate Birdwatching DestinationUganda's Bird Whisperer of Bigodi Wetlands SanctuaryWhat It's Like to Spend the Day On A Chimpanzee Habituation Trek in Uganda's Kibale ForestA Boat Cruise on Uganda's Kazinga Channel: Hippos and Elephants and Crocodiles, Oh MyThings to Do In and Around Entebbe Airport in Uganda10 Packing List Essentials for a Safari in Uganda if You're a City PersonWhy Uganda is the Coolest Safari Destination in East Africa: So Much More Than Just The Big 5A Safari Tour to Uganda with Gorillas, Chimps, Birds, Hippos...and My Husband



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Sidewalk Safari: The Birds of East Africa: Why Uganda is a Birdwatchers Paradise
The Birds of East Africa: Why Uganda is a Birdwatchers Paradise
Explore the amazing diversity of birds in Uganda. A photo-rich post by travel blogger, Jennifer (aka Dr. J) from Sidewalk Safari.
Sidewalk Safari
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