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Bird Species

Birds In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Obviously known for memorable mountain hiking adventures and Uganda gorilla safaris, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is also a prominent birding gem a must-visit on your birding safari in Uganda.

How many birds are in Mgahinga national park? Mgahinga Gorilla NP boasts over 180 bird species including 14 Albertine rift endemics including the beautiful Rwenzori turaco, handsome francolin, Rwenzori batis, Kivu ground-thrush, Blue-headed weaver, Black-collared apalis, Dusky crimsonwing, Red-throated alethe, and the Regal sunbird etc.

While on your Uganda birding safari in Mgahinga national park, most birding is done along the 6km Sabinyo gorge trail. Other trails for spotting birds in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park include the bamboo trail, the Buffalo wall trail, the border trail, and birds like the Paradise flycatcher, Yellow-vented bulbul, Doherty’s bush-shrike, Western tinker bird, etc.

Here Are The Most Sought After Birds Of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

  1. Ruwenzori Turaco

The Rwenzori turaco is a colourful multi-coloured turaco in the family Musophagidae, only found in the Albertine rift montane forests. Just like other turacos, this eye-catching turaco also shows large crimson wing patches in flight and amazingly bounces through trees.

On your Uganda birding tour in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, it’s mostly spotted in pairs or small groups, especially along the bamboo forest trail.

  1. Ruwenzori Batis

The Rwenzori batis is a lovely black and white batis, endemic to the Albertine rift montane forests, inhabiting altitudes of 1,340- 3,300m. It has a black broad chest band plus a white slash across the wing. Males have yellow eyes while females are orange.

They’re mostly found in pairs, mostly along the Sabinyo gorge trail. It’s similar to Ituri batis but, found at higher elevations, and identified by its broader black band across the breast.

  1. Kivu Ground-Thrush

The Kivu ground thrush is a spectacular scarce bird native to the Albertine rift montane forests, considered a subspecies of the Abyssinian ground thrush. Adults have a deep rufous orange on the head plus a distinctive face with a colourful white eye ring. They’re less rufous on the breast and flanks while the upper parts are olive-brown except for the orange-brown rump and tail.

On a folded wing, it has two distinctive white wingbars from the tips to the coverts. Though it’s rare, it can be spotted while on the trail to Sabinyo gorge.

  1. Black Collared Apalis

The black-collared apalis is a handsome species of bird in the family Cisticolidae. It’s a slim lovely long-tailed bird with grey upper parts and mostly white under parts with a black chest band, and rufous flanks. Though similar to the Rwenzori apalis, it’s distinguished by its white rather than buffy throat.

It’s commonly spotted around the forest edges, usually in pairs or small flocks and can be spotted along the Sabinyo gorge trail.

  1. Blue-Headed Sunbird

A blue-headed sunbird is an attractive species of bird in the family Nectariniidae endemic to Albertine rift montane forests. It’s a beautiful medium-sized sunbird having a vivid blue head and breast plus yellow shoulder tufts though, often hidden. Please, note the incredible red eye. Both sexes are similar but, females are duller.

Males are similar to the male green-headed sunbirds but, have red eyes and are darker overall. On your Mgahinga national park Uganda birding trip, it can be spotted in low zones along the Sabinyo gorge track.

  1. Red-Throated Alethe

The red-throated alethe is a beautiful scarce species of bird in the family Muscicapidae, endemic to the Albertine rift montane forests. It’s a dark chunky robin-like bird with a bright brown back and tail, a grey chest, plus a white belly. Please, also note the grey eyebrow and reddish throat. It’s a fairly shy bird and commonly dwells on the forest floor.

Though it’s similar to the Brown-chested Alethe, it’s distinguished easily by its reddish throat. It can be spotted in the montane forests of Sabinyo gorge with the help of our local expert guide.

  1. Purple-Breasted Sunbird

The purple-breasted sunbird is a spectacular long, slim medium-sized sunbird, endemic to the Albertine rift forests. Breeding males display a range of vivid colours in good light and have a long thin tail year-round while females have a dark face and pale throat.

It’s a bit similar to the Bronze sunbird but, males are identified by their longer tail and in breeding plumage by their purple tones. Females are recognised by their more pointed tails and lack of pale eyebrows. They’re usually uncommon however, with our skilled guide, they can be spotted along the trail to Sabinyo gorge.

  1. Cinnamon-Chested Bee-Eater

The cinnamon-chested bee-eater is a medium-sized beautiful bird having rich rufous underparts. It has a vivid green head, upper parts, and tail while the chin and throat are yellow, separated by the black strike from the cinnamon-brown breast that darkens towards the belly. Their tail base is yellow and has a white tip on the blackish tail when seen from the front.

They’re commonly spotted in small groups resting high in visible places. Though similar to the Little and Blue-breasted bee-eaters, they’re much bigger and more coloured below. You can spot them along the Sabinyo gorge trail.

  1. Red-faced Woodland Warbler

A red-faced woodland warbler is a colourful unique woodland warbler of the family Phylloscopidae, endemic to Albertine rift montane forests. This stunning small warbler has green upper parts, a distinctive reddish face and throat plus a white belly and rump. Just like other woodland warblers, it’s so active and always on a move.

It’s identical to the Brown woodland warbler, but paler on the belly, with more red on the face and throat. It can be spotted along the Sabinyo canyon trail with the help of our expert local guide.

  1. African Olive Pigeon

Also called the Rameron pigeon, the African olive pigeon is a common colourful, big, dark pigeon. It has maroon upper parts with its shoulders heavily speckled with white spots. Also, the underparts are maroon with white spots. Note its grey head, and bright yellow feet, bill, and eye ring.

It’s a montane forest species restricted to high and middle elevations, spotted commonly in small flocks, near fruiting trees. It’s separated from other pigeons in its range by its bright yellow bare parts. It can be spotted along the Sabinyo gorge trail in the montane forest zone.

  1. Ruwenzori Nightjar

The Rwenzori nightjar is a unique nocturnal Albertine rift endemic bird. It’s quite a darker night jar growing to a length of about 23cm. It has a tawny, blackish or chocolate brown-speckled plumage. Males have white spots on their four main primaries and the outer edge of the tail is white while females have buff-coloured spots on their primaries and fewer white on the tail.

They’re spotted in forest clearings and edges, grasslands, cultivation, and moorland. If lucky, you can encounter them along the Sabinyo gorge trail.

  1. Black-Capped Apalis

The black-capped apalis is a colourful species of bird in the family Cisticolidae. This dazzling bird has white underparts bisected by a neat black chest band, more visible in males than in females. Its upper parts are yellow-green with a dark black cap and sides of the head. Its relatively long tail is often held slightly raised.

They’re mostly spotted on forest edges either singly or in pairs, especially along the 6km Sabinyo gorge trail.

  1. Common Bulbul

The common bulbul is a lovely unmistakable thrush-sized brown bird with a darker face and throat. Their belly is pale and the undertail is white or yellow in some species. It’s usually spotted in small flocks and not easily missed due to its noisy and repetitive powerful song.

They can be spotted on the hike to Sabinyo gorge.

  1. Dusky Crimsonwing

A dusky crimsonwing is a small impressive dark bird species of the waxbill family. It has a red back and face while the wings and tail are black. The underparts are dark grey. Both sexes are similar though, males have more red on the face and juveniles lack red on the face.

It’s endemic to Albertine rift montane forests and is usually spotted on forest edges, in pairs or in small groups. It can be spotted along the Sabinyo gorge trail with the help of our local expert guide.

  1. Black Collared Apalis

The black-collared apalis is a handsome species of bird in the family Cisticolidae. It’s a slim lovely long-tailed bird with grey upper parts and mostly white under parts with a black chest band, and rufous flanks. Though similar to the Rwenzori apalis, it’s distinguished by its white rather than buffy throat.

It’s commonly spotted around the forest edges, usually in pairs or small flocks and can be spotted in the Sabinyo gorge.

  1. Pin-Tailed Whydah

A pin-tailed whydah is a small attractive songbird with an exclusive pennant-like tail in breeding males. Males are easily noticed by their black back and crown, plus a very long black tail. Their wings are dark brown with white patches and have white underparts plus a short orange-pink bill.

Females lack a long tail extension, they’ve streaked brown upperparts, white underparts with buff flanks, and a buff black face pattern but, they hold an orange-pink bill. They can be spotted while on the hike to Sabinyo gorge.

  1. Speckled Mousebird

A speckled mousebird is the largest species of mousebird and the most common one. This pretty mouse bird has a brownish-grey plumage and a long scruffy tail. It’s distinguished from other moosebirds by its blackish face and grey-brown crest. Just like other moosebirds, this bird is acrobatic- proficient in feeding upside down.

They’re mostly spotted in small social groups, in forest edges and thickets in savannahs, feeding on fruits, leaves, flowers, etc. They can be spotted in low ends along the Sabinyo gorge trail.

  1. African Firefinch

Also called the dark firefinch or blue-billed firefinch due to its bill colour, the African firefinch is a small beautiful red or brown waxbill with black under the tail. They vary geographically, however, in many areas, have mostly grey heads. Usually, they’re spotted along forest edges thick woodlands, and scrubs often in pairs or small groups.

It’s identical to Red-billed and Bar-breasted fire finches however, shows black under the tail. You can spot them almost on every trail of the park.

  1. Olive Thrush

An olive thrush is a lovely and the most common member of the thrush family, usually found in African highlands but also possible in forests, woodlands, and parks. Its tail and upper parts are coloured dark olive brown while the chest is whitish and the rest of the underparts have an orange hue. Note its throat, specked with white spots.

It can be spotted while on the Sabinyo gorge trail, Buffalo wall hike, and also along a walk to the Mgahinga viewing platform.

  1. Handsome Francolin

A handsome spurfowl is a gorgeous terrestrial forest bird species in the pheasant family Phasianidae. It has a dark reddish brown plumage, grey head, red bill and legs, brown iris, bare red skin around the eyes and rufous grey below. It’s commonly found around forest edges, bamboo zones, and also along roads and paths.

They’re usually spotted in pairs or groups, especially early morning or late in the afternoon. Though similar to the Scaly francolin, it’s larger and richer brown, with red bare skin around.

  1. Strange Weaver

The strange weaver is a lovely scarce species of bird in the family Ploceidae, endemic to the Albertine rift montane forests. This spectacular unusual weaver has a black head, dark olive-green back, plus a yellow belly. Males have a chestnut patch on the breast and in females, it extends onto the throat.

It’s usually spotted in pairs in the understory creeping through thick vegetation. Though confused with the Forest weaver, it’s identified by its olive black back and by chestnut on the breast. It can be spotted along the Sabinyo gorge trail with the help of our local expert guide.

  1. Cinnamon Chested Bee Eater

The cinnamon-chested bee-eater is a medium-sized colourful bird with rich rufous underparts. It has a vivid green head, upper parts, and tail while the chin and throat are yellow, separated by the black strike from the cinnamon-brown breast that darkens towards the belly. Their tail base is yellow and has a white tip on the blackish tail when seen from the front.

They’re commonly spotted in small groups resting high in visible places. Though similar to the Little and Blue-breasted bee-eaters, they’re much bigger and more richly coloured below. You can encounter them on the lower ends of the Sabinyo gorge trail.

  1. White-Tailed Blue Flycatcher

The White-tailed blue flycatcher is a colourful slim and slightly crested bird with a long amazing tail that’s usually fanned. It has a vivid blue back, pale grey underparts, plus a white outer tail.

It resembles an African blue flycatcher but, is easily identified by its white outer fanned tail. It can be spotted along the Sabinyo gorge trail in the low ends.

  1. Bronze Sunbird

A bronzy sunbird is uncommon lovely medium-sized sunbird having a long, thin, well-curved bill. The males have bronze-and-green undertones however, it looks black in the light. Females have pale eyebrows plus streaking yellowish underparts. Males are similar to the male Tacazze Sunbird however, lack purple tones in their plumage.

The females are distinguished from the female Tacazze and Malachite sunbirds by paler underparts with fine streaks. It can be spotted while along the Sabinyo gorge trail.

  1. Regal Sunbird

A regal sunbird is a colourful species of sunbird in the family Nectariniidae, endemic to the Albertine rift montane forests. Males have bright green upper parts, and dark wings and tails plus a bright yellow, red breast, and belly. The females are dull brownish.

Males are distinct, identified from other sunbirds by the yellow underparts while females are much similar to the female Double-collared sunbirds but, paler and more yellowish. They can be spotted on a nature walk along the Sabinyo gorge trail.

  1. Black-Headed Waxbill

The black-headed waxbill is a colourful species of estrildid finch found only in central Africa. It’s a beautiful waxbill commonly found in flocks along roadsides and the forest edges, usually with other waxbills. It’s identical to a Black-crowned waxbill, but it has a unique combination of a red rump and flanks plus a dark vent.

This dazzling small bird can be spotted in lower altitudes along the Sabinyo gorge trail.

  1. Western Tinker Bird

A western tinkerbird is a lovely and unique African barbet native to Central Africa, living at altitudes from 900- 3,030m. This little tinkerbird is identified by its yellow stripe along the back from the crown to the rump. It also has a white moustache stripe and strong yellow marks on the wings.

It can be spotted on nature walks along the 6km Sabinyo gorge trail.

  1. Blue-Headed Coucal

The blue-headed coucal is an incredible species of cuckoo in the family of Cuculidae. It has a heavy bill and its head usually looks black, though can show a blue gloss. It has a dark brown plumage at the back and its underparts are white while a long tail is black. They’ve pure red eyes, and greyish-black legs and feet.

They’re mostly found in marshes, swamps, and wetlands, though occasionally seen in open lands. It can be spotted on guided nature walks along the Sabinyo gorge trail.

  1. Doherty’s Bush-Shrike

A Doherty’s bush shrike is a spectacular bird having a greenback and a dazzling red throat and forehead, a yellow belly, plus a black chest band. It’s mostly spotted in undergrowth forests.

While on your birding Uganda tour in Mgahinga Gorilla NP, this impressive bird can be spotted along the border trail.

  1. Archer’s Robin-Chat

The Archer’s robin-chat is a lovely fairly plain brown-and-orange robin-chat with a white eyebrow and a dark face, endemic to Albertine rift montane forests. Unlike a typical robin chat, its tail is entirely orange.

It’s commonly spotted in the understory forest, usually near streams. Though a little similar to the white-bellied robin chat, it’s separated by the orange belly, much bolder white eyebrow plus an all-orange tail. It can be spotted along the Sabinyo gorge trail with the help of our expert local guide.

  1. Grey Crowned Crane

Also called the golden crested crane, the grey gowned crane is the national bird of Uganda. This spectacular bird is about 1m (3.3ft) tall. Its colourful plumage is mostly grey though with a range of colours. It has a dazzling black-and-white face, a bright red inflatable throat pouch and a crown of golden-yellow plumes.

They mostly feed in pairs to flocks preferring wetlands and water-logged plains. They can be encountered in the Rugezi swamp area between Mt. Gahinga and Sabinyo.

  1. White-Necked Raven

A white-necked raven is a lovely raven species found in mountainous areas, native to eastern and southern Africa. It has a much shorter tail than the common raven, plus a deeper bill with a white tip almost curved as that of the thick-billed raven.

Although it’s generally black, its throat, breast and neck show a faint purple gloss. Note the large patch of white feathers behind the neck. It’s identical to the thick-billed raven however, shorter-tailed, smaller-billed, and has a more wide white patch on the neck. It can be spotted in high altitudes while on any mountain hike trail.

  1. Brown Crowned Tchagra

A brown-crowned tchagra is a gorgeous bird species in the family Malaconotidae. It’s a beautiful grey-brown bushshrike with rufous wings, a bold pale eyebrow, plus a distinctive brown central crown bordered by black stripes. They’re usually spotted in pairs close to the ground, gleaning for insects in tangled thickets, and open woodlands.

It’s more terrestrial than other tchagras and can be spotted while on the hike to the Buffalo wall.

  1. Olive Woodpecker

An olive woodpecker is a colourful bird species of the woodpecker family Picidae. It’s an unusual woodpecker without, barring, spotting, and streaking. The males have a red cap, and both sexes show a red rump that’s visible in flight. They vary geographically: some species show a red patch at the centre of the belly and others a completely olive belly.

They’re usually spotted in the middle of forest canopies. On your Uganda birding tour in Mgahinga national park, they can be spotted in the montane forest area of Sabinyo gorge.

  1. Dusky Turtle Dove

The dusky turtle dove is a spectacular species of bird in the family Columbidae. It’s a lovely dark dove having a black mark on the neck. When seen critically, it shows beautiful rufous edges on the wing feathers and has slightly paler grey corners on the tail in flight.

It’s mostly spotted in the middle and high elevations of forests around forest edges, and woodlands. It’s usually spotted along the Sabinyo gorge trail. Though a bit similar to the Red-eyed dove, it’s smaller and darker all over, without a contrastingly paler head.

  1. Grey Capped Warbler

The grey-capped warbler is a gorgeous bird species of the family Cisticolidae. It’s a large, chunky, thin-tailed-warbler with a distinct grey cap, a black band around its head, a chestnut throat patch, olive-green back, plus grey underparts.

It’s spotted usually in the thick undergrowth of various habitats including forests, moist woodlands, and marshes, commonly near water. It can be spotted along the Sabinyo gorge trail.

  1. Yellow-Vented Bulbul

Also called the eastern yellow-vented bulbul, the yellow-vented bulbul is an attractive songster, a member of the bulbul family found mostly in open habitats, not forests. It has brown upper parts and whitish below with a vivid bright yellow vent and a thick black line between the bill and the eye.  The front edge of its weak, slightly peaked crest is also dark.

On your Uganda birding trip in Mgahinga gorilla park, it can be spotted along a guided nature walk to Mgahinga viewing platform though, also possible on the Sabinyo gorge trail.

  1. Scarlet-Tufted Malachite Sunbird

Also known as the red-tufted sunbird or the scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird, the scarlet-tufted sunbird is a spectacular unusual large, long-billed dark sunbird with red shoulder tufts, usually only seen when in flight. Males have long tail streamers and have dark vivid green in breeding plumage, and grey-brown with some green patches in non-breeding plumage. Females are dark grey-brown.

They’re mostly spotted in heather habitats and can be spotted along Sabinyo mount hike in the heather zone. It’s similar to the Malachite sunbird however, dwells in higher elevations, and looks darker in all plumages.

  1. Cape Robin-Chat

The Cape robin-chat is a good-looking robin-chat having a short white eyebrow and a rufous chest. It’s the only robin chat having a grey belly. It has orange outer tail feathers, which can be visible in flight.

They’re found in many different habitats counting fynbos, bushes, heather zone, forest edges, and thickets plus open lands. It can be spotted along the Sabinyo gorge trail, and while on a walk to Mgahinga viewing platform.

  1. Lagden’s Bush-Shrike

Lagden’s bushshrike is an eye-catching bird species in the bushshrike family native to Africa. It’s a stocky bird with yellow or orange-yellow underparts, olive green upperparts, a dark grey head plus a heavy black bill.

They’re usually spotted in thick understory and mid-story of the forest. It’s similar to the Fiery-breasted bushshrike however, separated by the grey rather than pale lores, the pale yellow bars on the front of the wing, and the lack of a black bar near the tip of the tail. It can be spotted in the montane forest of Sabinyo gorge.

  1. Moorland Chat

Also known as the alpine chat or hill chat, the moorland chat is a lovely species of songbird in the old world flycatcher family, dwelling in high altitudes in the moorland zone and on rocky slopes, usually above 3,400m altitude. It’s a small dull, dumpy, long-legged, and short-tailed chat. The tail has a black and white T pattern that’s visible in flight. It’s bold and can approach people.

Its tail pattern is similar to a wheatear’s, but Moorland chat is smaller and shorter-tailed. Somehow similar to other drab brownish chats, but spotted in different habitats, and also distinguished by the tail pattern. It can be spotted in the moorland region while on a mountain hike.

Other Birds In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

  1. African paradise flycatcher
  2. Double-collared Sunbird
  3. Stripe-breasted tit
  4. Montane sooty babou
  5. Streaky seedeater
  6. Crowned hornbill
  7. Hadada ibis
  8. Firefinch stonechat
  9. Black kite
  10. Yellow-billed kite
  11. Alpine chat
  12. Alpine swift
  13. Malachite sunbird
  14. Chubb’s cisticola
  15. Banded Prinias
  16. African hill babblers
  17. Buff spotted fluff tail

 

 

 

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