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Birds Of Lake Mburo

Birds In Lake Mburo National Park

Not only known for prime Uganda wildlife safaris, Lake Mburo National Park is also a superb destination for birding safaris in Uganda. Regardless of its being the smallest savannah park in Uganda (370km2), it holds over 350 bird species, most of them being acacia-dwelling birds.

Mburo national park boasts some of the most sought-after birds for birders on Uganda birding safaris for example, the elusive shoebill stork. Other birds in Lake Mburo National Park, include the African finfoot, Papyrus gonolek, Grey crowned crane, African fish eagle, Yellow-rumped tinker bird, Double-toothed barbets, Red-faced barbet, African wattled lapwing, etc.

On your birding Uganda tour in Lake Mburo NP, the best spots for bird watching include Warukiri and Miriti swamps, areas around Lake Mburo, Rubanga forest and also near the salt licks nearby the viewing platform, where you’ll get a chance of spotting even a variety of animals in Lake Mburo National Park.

Here Are The Most Sought-after Birds Of Lake Mburo National Park

  1. Shoebill

A shoebill is undeniably the most preferred bird on Uganda birding safaris. This amazing bird is about 4.5ft in height, weighing over 7kg. It has a grey plumage, but its most distinct feature is the shoe-shaped bill. It prefers large water swamps of grasses and reeds and it’s referred to as “the king of the marshes”.

If lucky, this unusual bird can be spotted in the swamps of Warukiri and Miriti.

  1. African Finfoot

An African finfoot is a spectacular elongated, duck-like bird, easily identified by its neon orange bill and legs. Its back and underparts are unevenly spotted and barred. The throat of males is grey and white in the female.

Its short thick neck and bright-colored bill and feet distinguish it from the darters and cormorants. It can be spotted while on guided nature walks in Rubanga forest.

  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 colorful plumage is mostly grey though with a range of colors. It has a glittering 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 spotted in Warukiri and Miriti swamps.

  1. African Fish Eagle

Also called the African sea eagle, the African fish eagle is a large species of eagle found throughout sub-Saharan Africa around open water bodies. This beautiful eagle has a distinct appearance. It’s mostly brown with a white head like the bald eagle and large, powerful black wings.

Its head, breast, and tail are snow white, except for the featherless face, which is yellow. The African fish eagle’s eyes are dark brown and it features a yellow hook-shaped beak and powerful talons that enable in catching its slippery aquatic prey. You can spot it around Lake Mburo.

  1. Papyrus Gonolek

The papyrus gonolek is a spectacular bird species in the family Malaconotidae, restricted in Papyrus swamps. It’s a handsome black and red medium-sized bush shrike with a yellow crown. Its upper parts: the wings & tail are black except for a broad white bar on the wings. The breast and upper belly are vivid orange crimson, and the lower belly is whitish.

On your Lake Mburo national park Uganda birding tour, it’s mostly spotted in Warukiri and Miriti swamps.

  1. African Wattled Lapwing

Also called the Senegal wattled plover or simply the wattle lapwing, the African wattle lapwing is a nice-looking largish wader in the family Charadriidae. It’s a striking unique large brown wader with a black crown, white forehead plus large yellow facial wattles that have distinctive fleshy red bases. Their tail is white, tipped black, and their long legs are yellow.

They’re mostly spotted in pairs or small groups while on nature walks around Lake Mburo or in Miriti and Warukiri swamps.

  1. Martial Eagle

The martial eagle is a large eagle native to sub-Saharan Africa. This endangered spectacular eagle is the only member of the genus Polemaetus. It’s one of the largest eagles in Africa weighing about 4.17kg. This giant eagle has a short but prominent crest. Martial eagles have a dark brown plumage on their upper parts (head, back, and chest) with undersides covered in brown blotches.

In flight, the underwings are brown. It can be spotted either solitary or in pairs, especially in plains where it hunts for vertebrates like rats and birds and attacks by surprise attack. It has incredible keen eyes that can locate prey from 6km away. It can be spotted on nature walks to the salt lick.

  1. The Ross’s Turaco

The Ross’s turaco is a colorful African bird in the turaco family- Musophagidae. It’s a good-looking purple turaco with a yellow bill and face plus a puffy red crest. It shows gorgeous large crimson wing patches while in flight. It’s mostly found along forest edges and in woodlands.

On your Lake Mburo safari, it can be encountered while on nature walks to Rubanga forest.

  1. Double-Toothed Barbet

A double-toothed barbet is a lovely bird species in the family Lybiidae. This colorful barbet can easily be identified by its lovely black and red colouring. It has a huge ivory-colored bill and yellow skin around the eyes. This colorful barbet is black on the top side of its body with a patch of white feathers on its back. Its breast is red, with a white patch on its side.

Though similar to the black-breasted barbet, the double-toothed barbet features a red chest. On your Uganda birding tour in Lake Mburo park, it can be spotted in Rubanga forest.

  1. Yellow-Rumped Tinkerbird

The yellow-rumped tinkerbird is a small spectacular black-and-white barbet in the family Lybiidae. This beautiful bird is identified by its bold white stripes on the face and a yellow to gold rump color which varies geographically. Though similar to the Yellow-throated tinkerbird, its facial marking is white-not yellow and lacks a yellow throat.

It’s commonly found in forests and thick woodlands. On your Uganda tour in Mburo national park, it can be spotted on nature walks to Rubanga forest.

  1. Yellow Throated Tinker Bird

A yellow-throated tinkerbird is a gorgeous small barbet species in the Lybiidae family commonly spotted in forests and forest edges. Despite its name, the yellow throat is not often seen, except in the western range species. They’ve pale whitish underparts and black upperparts with a distinctive white moustache and show a small yellow rump when seen from above.

Though alike to the Red-rumped and Yellow-rumped tinker bird, the Yellow-throated tinkerbird is bicolored all-over and has a yellowish throat. It can be spotted in Rubanga forest.

  1. Red-Faced Barbet

A red-faced barbet is a spectacular species of bird in the African barbet family Lybiidae. This dazzling barbet is easily identified by its red coloring on the face and around the eyes however, is black on the dorsal side of the head. It has a black body with wings streaked with yellow.

It looks like the black-billed barbet however, it lacks red on the throat. They’re found mostly in woodlands, usually spotted in pairs or small groups. You can spot around the viewing platform near the salt licks.

  1. Yellow-Breasted Apalis

A yellow-breasted apalis is a lovely species of bird in the family Cisticolidae. It’s a slender beautiful long-tailed canopy warbler with green upper parts, a yellow breast, a greyish face with a striking red eye, plus a white belly that’s sometimes separated from the breast by a variable black bar which lacks in some individuals.

They’re mostly spotted in pairs and even in flocks, especially at forest edges, and broadleaf woodlands, foraging actively in the canopy, flipping their tails as they move. You can spot them while on nature walks to Rubanga forest.

  1. Piapiac

A piapiac is a gorgeous African bird in the crow family, the only member of the genus Ptilostomus. This unique magpie-like bird has a long narrowing tail and a chunky bill. Adults have a glossy black plumage with black heavy bills, black legs and feet plus a purplish irish with a bluish-purple outer ring. The Juveniles have black-tipped pink bills.

They can be spotted in groups riding on the back of the mammal or perched on treetops. You can spot them on buffalo herds coming to take water around Lake Mburo, especially in the dry season.

  1. Bare-Faced Go-Away-Bird

The bare-faced go-away bird is an amazing-looking bird species in the family of Musophagidae. This lovely grey turaco is named after its unique bare black face. It has a bushy crest and a white head and breast. They’re found mostly in moist savanna, woodland, and shrubs usually in small groups.

Though similar in shape to the White-bellied go-away-bird and Eastern plantain-eater, it’s easily separated by its bare black face, the white collar and lack of white wings at the tail. It can be spotted on nature walks to the salt lick.

  1. White-Headed Barbet

A white-headed barbet is a colorful medium-sized black-and-white barbet species in the family Lybiidae. Its tail can be black or white, the wings can be all black or heavily white-spotted, and its underparts can be all white or all black with thin white streaks.

This eye-catching bird is usually found in fig trees, open savanna and lush woodlands, often in groups. It can be spotted while on nature walks to the viewing platform around the salt licks.

  1. Tropical Boubou

Also called the bell shrike, the tropical boubou is a medium-sized spectacular black-and-white bushshrike. Its underparts are white while the upper parts and tail are in glossy blue-black except for a white stripe across the top of the wing. Their bill and the legs are black, while the feet are bluish grey and have dark reddish brown irises.

It can be spotted while on nature walks to the viewing platform near the salt licks.

  1. Red-Chested Sunbird

A red-chested sunbird is a beautiful slim curve-billed sunbird species in the family Nectariniidae. Males are typically black and green with a red band across the underparts and elongated central tail fluffs. Females have plain grey-brown above and pale with heavy dark markings below.

It’s confused with the beautiful sunbird however, male red-chested sunbirds lack extensive yellow on their belly band and females are more streaked below. Females are similar to female Marico sunbird but have no dark throat patch and less distinct pale eyebrows.

They’re found in a variety of habitats including, wetlands, savanna, scrub, woodland, and gardens. In Lake Mburo NP, they can be spotted on a nature walk to salt licks.

  1. Pin-Tailed Whydah

A pin-tailed whydah is a small gorgeous songbird with an exclusive pennant-like tail in breeding males. Males are easily identified 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 don’t have a long tail, they’ve streaked brown upperparts, white underparts with buff flanks, and a buff black face pattern however, they hold an orange-pink bill. They can be spotted around the viewing platforms near the salt licks in Lake Mburo park.

  1. Malachite Kingfisher

The Malachite kingfisher is a small colored kingfisher, about 13cm in length. It has a short black crest with blue feathers however, it’s identified by its bright metallic blue upperparts and orange underparts. It also has white patches on the throat and rear neck sides and features bright red legs plus a reddish-orange bill though black in juveniles.

The Malachite kingfisher sits still for long periods before diving to snatch its prey in the water. They can be spotted while on a boat cruise on Lake Mburo.

  1. Pied Kingfisher

The pied kingfisher is a lovely species of kingfisher easily identified by its black and white striped plumage. It has a short, bushy crest and silky dark bill. They’re commonly seen resting in small groups or pairs and commonly hover over water (clear water) before diving for fish.

Males are double banded across the breast and females have a single gorget that’s usually broken in the middle. They can be spotted while on a boat cruise on Lake Mburo.

  1. Blue Breasted Kingfisher

The blue-breasted kingfisher is a beautiful tree kingfisher usually spotted in rainforests. Their prominent feature is the blue-breasted chest. Mature ones have a bright blue head, back, wing panel and tail and white underparts plus black shoulders. Their large bill features a red upper and black lower mandible. Please, also note their bright red legs.

They can be confused with the woodland kingfisher however, the blue-breasted king fisher is larger, has a black patch on the back, blue breasts, a black line behind the eye, and prefers thicker habitats. It can be spotted in Rubanga forest

  1. Saddle-Billed Stork

Called also the saddle bill, the saddle-billed stork is a large wading bird in the stork family. It’s a nice-looking tall leggy black-and-white stork easily identified by its striking red, yellow, and black bill. It can be spotted singly or in pairs, around Lake Mburo.

  1. Yellow-Billed Stork

A yellow-billed stork is a stunning large African wading stork in the family Ciconiidae. This lovely bird is easily identified by its striking yellow bill and bright red facial skin. Its plumage is white with a short black tail that is glossed green and purple when freshly molted.

Though, a little similar to the white stork, a white stock lacks red facial skin and a yellow bill. It can be seen around Lake Mburo shores.

  1. Pink-Backed Pelican

Pink-backed pelicans are rather small pelicans, though still very large birds weighing 4-7kg. They have a pale grey plumage with a pinkish bill, a grey crest, and a pinkish hue on the back “not in deep pink of a flamingo”. Immature have darker grey. Though confused with great white pelicans, pink-backed pelicans are much smaller and have a pinkish bill.

These lovely birds are spotted while on a thrilling boat cruise on Lake Mburo, usually in small groups along the shores.

  1. African Darters

The African darter is an amazing cormorant-like water bird usually referred to as a snake-bird due to its long & slender neck that has a snake-like appearance when it swims with its body submerged. Adults are mostly black with white flecks and streaks.

Males have rusty necks and a white stripe running from the eye down the side of the head while females and juveniles are muted and brown. On your Uganda safari in Lake Mburo NP, they can be spotted while on a thrilling boat cruise on Mburo lake.

  1. Great Cormorant

Great cormorants are lovely water birds mostly covered in black plumage except for their yellow chin and a white patch on the throat and the thighs plus a grey duck-like bill. These gorgeous birds are the 2nd largest species of cormorants after the flightless cormorants (endemic to Ecuador).

They’re mostly spotted standing on rocks and you can spot them while on a boat cruise to Lake Mburo.

  1. Long-Crested Eagle

A long-crested eagle is a spectacular African bird of prey locally known as Kamusungu-sungu in Uganda. It has a blackish-brown plumage and long thin feathers growing from the rear of the crown- usually held erect.

Kamusungu-sungu’s eyes are bright yellow though, females have darker and their cere and feet are yellow, fading to white in males. They mostly feed on forest edges and near moist areas. In Lake Mburo NP you can spot one around the viewing platform near the salt licks.

  1. Black Breasted Snake Eagle

Also called the black-chested snake eagle, a black-breasted snake eagle is a beautiful eagle easily identified by its dark brown-black head and chest thus, named the black-breasted eagle and feeds mostly on snakes hence, the other name though, it even feeds on lizards, insects, small mammals and frogs.

This eagle features a white belly, bright yellow to orange eyes, and its legs, the hooked bill are pale grey. It can be spotted around the salt licks.

  1. Goliath Heron

The goliath heron is the world’s largest heron species weighing over 4-5kg and 6-7ft tall with a wingspan of 2m plus a strong dagger-like bill. Males and females look alike. This incredible heron has a slate-grey plumage, with a chestnut-colored head and a striped neck plus a white chin and throat.

It has black legs and yellow eyes with a yellow eye ring. A goliath heron is so aquatic, hunting for large fish and other amphibians. It can be spotted in Warukiri and Miriti swamps.

  1. African Openbill

An African openbill is a medium-sized dark stork. This amazing stork is identified by its exceptionally- shaped bill which has a gap between the upper and lower mandible. Their beaks only meet at the tip and not in the middle hence, the name “openbill”.

They prefer still waters of shallow lakes, swamps, and seasonal pans. In Lake Mburo National Park, they can be spotted in Warukiri and Miriti swamps.

  1. Abdim’s Stork

Also known as the white-bellied stork, Abdim’s storks are social storks belonging to the Ciconiidae family. They feed mostly on insects and are found mostly in open habitats however, also use wetland margins. This stunning bird has grey legs, red knees and feet, a grey bill and white underparts.

It has red facial skin in front of the eye and blue skin near the bill in the breeding season. Abdim’s stork is the smallest species of stork- 73cm tall, weighing about 1kg. They can be spotted around Lake Mburo.

  1. Southern Ground Hornbill

The southern ground hornbill is the largest species of African hornbill. This enormous, social and terrestrial-loving hornbill is truly unmistakable, covered in black plumage. An adult male has a brilliant red face and throat wattles, while females have purple-blue in the center of the red throat patch.

Juveniles are scruffy with yellowish facial skin. In flight, this giant bird is black with wide white wingtips. They’re mostly spotted in grasslands in pairs or small groups. You can spot them while on nature walks to the salt licks.

  1. Hammerkops

A hammerkop is an amazing medium-sized wading bird with brown plumage. Their head shape, a long bill and crest at their back resemble a hammer, hence their name. It mostly feeds in shallow water preying on fish and amphibians though, shrimps, insects and rodents are taken too.

Hammerkops are known to build giant stick tree nests (of about 1.5m across) in large trees. It’s rarely missed on guided nature walks around Lake Mburo.

  1. African Sacred Ibis

The African sacred ibis is an amazing-looking species of ibis, a wading bird of the family Threskiornithidae native to Africa and the Middle East. This striking white ibis is easily identified by its bald black head, thick curved black bill and black legs plus its wings being edged with black wingtips.

They can be spotted while on nature walks around Lake Mburo.

  1. Black-Billed Bustard

Also known as the black-bellied korhaan, the black-bellied bustard is a spectacular medium-sized African ground-dwelling bird in the bustard family. They’ve black and brown marks on a mostly tan-colored back. Males have a black belly, neck stripe, throat, and face patch while females have uniform buff-brown from the belly to the head.

Males, usually retract their head to the back, giving “a short rising wheezy whistle, zhweeeeee”, pauses in that position, and slowly raises the head, giving a popping quock followed by an amazing soft gurgling. They can be spotted on a nature walk to the salt licks.

  1. Common Bulbul

The common bulbul is a lovely nondescript thrush-sized brown bird with a darker face and throat. Their belly is pale and the undertail

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 while on a guided walk to the salt licks.

  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 to the salt lick.

  1. Black-Headed Gonolek

A black-headed gonolek is a magnificent bird species in the family of Malaconotidae. It mostly dwells in dry savanna, tropical moist shrubs and seasonally flooded lowland areas. This beautiful bushshrike is identified easily by its shining red and black plumage.

Though similar to the papyrus gonolek, the black-headed gonolek has an all-black head lacking a yellow crown. On your Uganda birding tour in Lake Mburo park, it can be spotted on a nature walk around Lake Mburo.

  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- capable of 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 around the viewing platforms near the salt licks.

  1. Blue-Naped Mousebird

A blue-naped mousebird is a beautiful pale grey bird with a tremendously long tail. Adults have ash brown, greyish plumage, crested heads with a blue nape, plus a black-and-red bill. The juveniles lack blue on the nape and have pink facial skin and greenish bills. This lovely bird can be spotted while on a guided nature walk to the salt licks.

  1. Black Cuckoo

A black cuckoo is a lovely medium-sized cuckoo species in the family of Cuculidae. This woodland bird is commonly spotted in acacia woodlands, thickets and along riverside woodland. It’s unmistakably identified by its entirely black plumage except for white tips on the long tail and sometimes limited white barring elsewhere.

It can be spotted while on guided nature walks to the salt lick.

  1. Red-Chested Cuckoo

A red-chested cuckoo is nice-looking species of cuckoo in the family Cuculidae. Males have slate-grey upper parts, pale grey throats and sides of their heads and dark grey tails tipped with white. Its breast is rufous (cinnamon), usually with barring, and the belly is creamy-white or pale buff.

Females resemble males however, the color of the breast is duller and with variable amounts of barring. They can be spotted on guided walks in Rubanga forest.

  1. White-Winged Warbler

A white-winged warbler is a beautiful species of bird in the family Phaenicophilidae. It’s the only member of the genus Xenoligea. This eye-catching warbler has a bright green back, a grey crown, and white underparts plus blackish wings and tail.  It’s named for the bold white stripe on the wings.

Though identical to the Green-tailed ground warbler, it’s identified by a white stripe on its wings. They’re usually spotted in thickets or shrubs on a guided walk to the viewing platform around the salt licks.

  1. Black-And-White-Casqued Hornbill

Also called the grey-cheeked hornbill, the black and white casqued hornbill is a large black and white hornbill. It’s identified by its enormous blackish bill with a large casque on top. Males have larger black and white bills than females. They’re monogamous, commonly seen in pairs and their diet consists mainly of figs, fruits & insects.

In flight, they show a broad white patch at the back of the wing and a black tail with white sides. It’s similar to the White-thighed hornbill but, has a black center to the tail, black wingtips plus a darker bill and casque. They can be spotted on nature walks to Rubanga forest.

  1. Crowned Hornbill

The crowned hornbill is a medium-sized African hornbill easily identified by its white belly, black back, and wings plus an orange bill with a stocky casque on the upper mandible, smaller in females.

They’re found mostly in woodlands, and forest edges, usually in small flocks. You can spot them while on nature walks to the viewing platform around salt licks.

Other Common Birds In Lake Mburo National Park

  1. Great blue turaco
  2. Broad-billed roller
  3. Lilac-breasted roller
  4. Western tinkerbird
  5. Yellow-fronted tinkerbird
  6. Yellow-throated tinkerbird
  7. Red-fronted barbet
  8. Yellow-spotted barbet
  9. White-headed barbet
  10. Crested barbet
  11. Blue-breasted bee-eater
  12. Cinnamon-chested bee-eater
  13. White-throated bee-eater
  14. Blue-cheeked bee-eater
  15. European bee-eater
  16. European bee-eater
  17. Black-billed turaco
  18. Eastern plantain-eater
  19. Long-tailed cormorant
  20. Great egret
  21. Intermediate egret
  22. Little egret
  23. Cattle egret
  24. Black stork
  25. Woolly-necked stork
  26. Marabou stork
  27. Black-crowned night-heron
  28. White-backed night-heron
  29. Purple heron
  30. Brown-chested lapwing
  31. Rufous-bellied heron
  32. Long-toed lapwing
  33. Spur-winged lapwing
  34. Senegal lapwing
  35. Crowned lapwing
  36. Brown-chested lapwing
  37. Green wood-hoopoe
  38. African pied hornbill
  39. African gray hornbill
  40. White-winged tit
  41. Long-tailed cisticola
  42. Red-shouldered cuckoo
  43. Diederik cuckoo
  44. African emerald cuckoo
  45. Black cuckoo
  46. African cuckoo
  47. Brown parrot
  48. Red-headed lovebird
  49. Black scimitarbill
  50. Common scimitarbill
  51. Senegal thick-knee
  52. Tawny eagle
  53. Brown snake-eagle
  54. Banded snake-eagle
  55. Lesser spotted eagle
  56. Booted eagle
  57. Lizard buzzard
  58. Black kite
  59. Bat hawk
  60. Harrier hawk
  61. Bateleur
  62. Palm-nut vulture
  63. White-headed vulture
  64. Lappet-faced vulture
  65. White-backed vulture
  66. African wood-owl
  67. Malachite kingfisher
  68. African pygmy kingfisher
  69. Giant kingfisher
  70. Grey-headed kingfisher
  71. Woodland kingfisher
  72. Striped kingfisher
  73. Blue-headed sunbird
  74. Green-headed sunbird
  75. Red-necked spurfowl
  76. Common quails
  77. Southern red bishop
  78. Nubian woodpecker
  79. African paradise-flycatcher
  80. Grey-backed cameroptera
  81. Narina trogon
  82. Red-necked francolin
  83. Crested francolin
  84. Red-winged francolin
  85. Handsome francolin
  86. Red-necked francolin
  87. Green pigeon
  88. Emerald spotted wood dove
  89. Mourning collared-dove
  90. Red-eyed dove
  91. Ring-necked dove
  92. Laughing dove
  93. Blue-spotted wood-dove
  94. Namaqua dove
  95. Pennant-winged nightjar
  96. Swamp nightjar
  97. Black-shouldered nightjar
  98. Square-tailed nightjar
  99. African crake
  100. Black crake


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Want to visit Lake Mburo National Park, Uganda's smallest savannah park?