When it comes to Uganda's wildlife, it's not just our distant cousins that steal the show; our feathered friends are giving the famous mountain gorillas a run for their money. Birding in Uganda is full of surprises, 1072 to be precise! Condensed into an area the same size as Great Britain, it is arguably the most attractive country in Africa to the birdwatcher and therefore it's no surprise that a bird, the elegant Crested Crane, is Uganda's national symbol too.
Uganda is a birding hotspot. All of its 10 national parks have vibrant birdlife but birds can be encountered wherever you travel and can be much easier to see than other animals. You don't have to travel far out of the airport in Entebbe to encounter tick list birds either, with Mabamba wetlands on the shores of Lake Victoria a few minutes drive away and Mabira Forest just an hour out of Kampala, the country's capital.
Its huge diversity is down to its unique position on the equator between the savannah lands of East Africa, the tropical rainforests of West Africa and the dry desert of the North. One of the most desirable locations for birding in Uganda are the forests of Semliki due to its 441 recorded species, closely followed by Kibale Forest National Park, Budongo Forest Reserve and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Herbert Byaruhanga, one of Uganda's leading experts on birding said, “Birding is extraordinarily diverse with hornbills, parrots, kingfishers, bee-eaters, turacos, bustards, trogons, hornbills, pittas, broadbills, apalises, and an array of dazzling sunbirds and weavers leading the charge. In just a 2-3 week tour, Uganda bird guides can show you over 400 species.”
Its premier position in birding on the continent has lead to Uganda holding the region's biggest birding event, the Africa Birding Expo. On the 18-20th November birding experts from around the globe will flock to the event at Entebbe's Botanical Gardens where 115 different species of birds are present including the great blue Turaco.
Herbert continued, “Birding is a growing tourism product in Uganda. This demand is creating some of the best bird guides in the area and its popularity is greatly contributing to ecotourism development by creating opportunities for communities to share their birds with tourists and help to protect habitats rather then destroy them.”