Top 10 birds in Bwindi : Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is one of the biggest natural forests in Uganda. It is located in the south-western part of the country in Kanungu district on the Albertine rift edge along Uganda’s border with Democratic Republic of Congo. The Park is only about 25km north of the Virunga mountains. Bwindi is most known and mostly visited for mountain gorillas. However, there is more to Bwindi than just the gorillas. First, the forest was home to the indigenous tribe of the Batwa that now provide visitors with a cultural experience and work as tour guides.
The impenetrable forest is also outstanding for its biodiversity housing over 150 tree species and various fern species. It is also home 120 mammals including elephants, antelope species and other primates like baboons, about 220 butterfly species, 27 species of frogs and 348 bird species. Of the bird species, that Bwindi boasts of, there are some globally endangered including the chapin’s flycatcher, Shelley’s crimsonwing and the grauer’s broadbill thus Top 10 birds in Bwindi.
Other top birds in Bwindi include the doherty’s bushstrike, Rwenzori nightjar, blackbilled turaco, black bee eater, montane oriole, handsome francoline, kivu ground thrush and the regal sunbird.
The Regal sunbird
The regal sunbird or cinnyris regius is generally small with a size of about 11.5 cm. the upper parts of the male are golden green, the breasts red and yellow plus dark wings. The female on the other hand has dull upper parts and a yellowish underbody. They breed from November to January and nest in the middle level of shrubs and tree branches. This bird can be found in the Ruhija sector in the eastern part of Bwindi Forest.
Kivu ground thrush
This bird has an orange fore crown. It lives in altitudes between 1500 and 2800 metres above sea level and in Bwindi, it can be seen at the waterfall trail, Buhoma gate. The Kivu ground thrush is most likely to be spotted in the morning as it is very loud then. It can also be spotted along the trail in the afternoon or evening while feeding.
This is a vulnerable bird species with a current estimated population of 2500-9999 birds. Little is known about the breeding or behaviour of the shelley’s crimsonwing even though it dates to over one hundred years ago. The males are bright red in the face, crown and back while its wings and tail are black. The female’s head is olive with a red body. It is recognised by the ‘’tit tit tit’’ sound.
Black bee eater
The black bee eater or merops gularis appears wholly black from a far. However, it is just largely a black bird with a blue belly and a bright red throat. The bird grows up to 20cm in height and are usually shy. Their shyness reflects with them being harder to find in the forest compared to other bird species. They are recognised by a ‘’ji-lip’’ sound that is usually not heard. The black bee eater is usually found at the Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
This bird, also known as the C.p. Rwenzori, is a subspecies of the montane nightjars. The bird is rather dark growing to a length of up to 23cm with a blackish color. The male has white spots on its 4 main parts with a white tail whereas the female has a less white tail. As the name nightjar suggests, they are nocturnal birds that feed on large insects mainly the moths. They are found at altitudes between 1000 and 3350 metres above sea level. It can be found in the Ruhija sector of Bwindi thus Top 10 birds in Bwindi.
Black billed turaco.
The black billed turaco, as its name suggests, has a black bill. Its appearance, apart from the black bill is very similar to the Knysna turaco of South Africa. It is long-tailed, bulky and about 40-42cm long. The bird lays two eggs in a platform 3-5 metres off the ground made of sticks and both the male and female share incubation duties. The black billed turaco can be found in the Buhoma sector and is identifiable by the Kwah khaw kwah sound.
Also known as the African green broadbill, this is one of the rarest birds in Bwindi. It lives at an altitude of 2100-2200 metres above sea level in Bwindi. The bird is bright green with a small bill and a blue throat. The older ones have really narrow black eyestripes as well. The green broadbill normally relies seeds, flowers, flowerbuds, invertebrates and fruit for food.
This small and benevolent bird is naturally found in tropical forests like Bwindi. However, they have adapted well to streets, backyards, parks and more. They eat fruits and vertebrates and specifically feed in berries during the summer and fall seasons. The montane oriole nests mainly in cottonwoods, willows and tall poplars.
The doherty’s bushshrike
With a green bush shrike, broad black breast, a lemon-yellow belly, black tail and bright red forehead, the Doherty’s bushshrike is one of the most colurful birds to ever see the earth. Though colourful, the bird finds comfort in being shy and therefore coming off as skulking thus Top 10 birds in Bwindi. Its breeding season in Bwindi Uganda is between May and June and they are known to live in altitudes between 1500 and 3350 metres in the dense undergrowth of the forest.
Other birds in Bwindi include the strip-breasted tit, African wood owl, guel’s rush warbler, the yellow eyed black flycatcher, the African green pigeon among others. Birding in Bwindi is done all year around with the best months being between November and April when migratory birds are in the forest.