Murchison Falls National Park ranks 9th among the top birding spot in Africa, boasting a rich avifauna, with a checklist of over 460 birds and 76 mammal species.
Birds in Murchison falls national park are easily seen during game drives, nature walks through the savannah grasslands & Budongo forest and on the boat cruise along the Nile.
Some birds like the silver birds, blue-napped mousebirds, and weavers among others are seen around Paraa and Red chilli through the dry thorn shrubs while the nocturnal birds like the nightjars are seen along the Paraa road.
During boat cruise, birders normally spot a number of water birds including the shoebill, Goliath herons, Gray-crowned cranes, black-headed lapwings among others.
Birding in Murchison falls national park can be done throughout the year however, the best time for birdwatching is during the dry season that runs from January-March, during this period, the park receives low tourists and lodges normally give discounted rate on accommodation.
From December-February, birding is still excellent though the park experiences some rains which may interfere with your birding time.
The shoebill is among the most outstanding attraction and bird species in Murchison falls but it is very rare to spot though can be easily seen from January to March during the dry season. Migratory birds from Europe and North Africa are present from November to April.
The following are birds found in Murchison falls national park;
Abyssinian ground hornbill
Abyssinian ground hornbill is a large ground-dwelling hornbill. A male Abyssinian ground hornbill has a mix of blue and red bare facial skin, while the female has entirely blue facial skin.
In flight, a large white patch is revealed in the wings. This bird is normally seen in the plain savanna grasslands of Murchison falls national park and the surrounding agricultural lands of the park.
The Abyssinian ground hornbill usually moves in pairs or small groups and walking on the ground. The always breed and roost in trees.
The Abyssinian ground hornbill is almost similar to the southern ground-hornbill however, there is little overlap in range, and Abyssinian is easily distinguished by the blue facial skin. The call of Abyssinian is a series of deep “boop” notes.
The Black-headed lapwing is commonly spotted in semi-arid and bushed plains at an altitude of 1800m in Uganda and other East African regions. The Black-headed lapwing is usually seen in the northern part of the Murchison Falls around Paraa to Albert Nile swamps. During morning game drives, you will be able to see them either in pairs or small groups.
Black-headed lapwing has a thin black crest and a black line down the center of the breast and in flight, the bird reveals broad white bands across the wings.
The Black-headed lapwing are most active at night, early in the morning, and late in the day.
The call of the Black-headed lapwing is a strident, wooden, repeated “krep.”
Grey crowned crane
The scientific name for grey crowned crane is Balearica regulorum. This bird is spectacular with a blue-gray crane, a black-and-white face and a crown of golden-yellow plumes. Immature grey-crowned cranes are rustier than adults.
Singles, pairs, and flocks prefer wetlands and flooded grasslands of Murchison falls national park in Uganda.
Yes, grey-crowned cranes are resident to water-logged areas but may be locally nomadic in response to rain. A group of grey-crowned cranes can regularly be detected by their low plaintive bugling “maaah-hem” call.
The similar Black Crowned-Crane differs from the grey-crowned crane in having slaty-gray coloration, smaller red facial wattles, and red-and-white cheek patches.
The Senegal thick-knee is among the common birds of Murchison falls national park. Its scientific name is Burhinus senegalensis.
The Senegal thick-knee is a very large shorebird, similar to Eurasian and Water Thick-knees, but with a longer and heavier bill. Also, it is important to note that this bird has a gray mid-wing panel without a black-and-white pattern.
The Senegal thick knee is very noisy, especially during night, producing a variety of loud whistles and trills.
Shoebill is utterly a unique bird that makes up its own family. The plumage is homogeneously gray in adult shoebill storks and brownish in immatures.
Shoebill is a rare bird found in Murchison falls national park however tracking it is an exhilarating experience, especially for bird-lovers.
Spotting a shoebill tracking in Murchison falls National park can easily be done while on a guided boat safari on the Nile. A bot ride takes you to cruise downstream into the marsh-filled delta area of the park.
The shoebill is normally found in deep marshes, especially papyrus swamp and usually alone or in pairs.
A shoebill is stork-like, but with a thick neck and massive hooked bill. In flight, which in most cases quite high, the long legs trail.
Other Birds found in Murchison Falls National Park are; African jacana, White-browed sparrow-weaver, African quailfinch, Black-headed gonolek, Black-headed lapwing, Blue-headed coucal, Denham’s bustard, Eastern grey plantain-eater, Red-winged Grey Warbler, African Jacana, Standard-winged Nightjar, Sandpipers, Long-tailed Nightjar, Rock Pratincole, Palm-nut vulture, Piapiac, Giant kingfisher, Goliath heron, Black-billed barbet, Malachite kingfisher, Red-throated bee-eater, Speckle-fronted weaver, Silverbird, Squacco heron, Swamp flycatcher,