Bird Watching

Birdlife in Rwanda is excellent and gives visitors a chance to see some of the Albertine Rift endemic bird species. There are over 600 species in Rwanda, which is amazing and therefore makes the country a great birding destination. The bird life in Rwanda is astonishing; species include the 17 Globally Threatened birds and the Albertine rift endemic. The variety of ecosystems within this small country reflects the numbers of different species of birds; there are 3 major National Parks in Rwanda, each with its own large collection of bird life, as well as flora and other wildlife animals.

Bird watching in Rwanda is very rewarding with a massive and contains the highest concentration of birds per square kilometer in Africa. Birding in Rwanda will reward you with a lot of bird species by covering a small area or spending a short time out on the birding trail. There is also easy access and views to the rare and hard-to-spot bird species in Nyungwe national park which is recognized as an IBA (important bird area) by the bird life international.

The Albertine is regarded as the center of the Afromontane habitat and is a belt of exceptional fauna and flora endemism including over 40 bird species. Rwanda has at least 27 Albertine Rift endemics which include; the Albertine owlet, collared apalis, red-collared mountain- babbler and grauer’s and Neumann’s warblers found in Nyungwe national park.

The habitants to these birds include the Albertine rift montane forests in the western region, grassland plains and swamps along the eastern border. Others include swamps, rivers, wetlands lakes, grassy hills to mention but a few. The breathtaking landscape of grassy hills and misty volcanoes inhabited by such rare and amazing wildlife as the Mountain Gorillas and several primates make Rwanda ideal for the birding enthusiasts.

BIRDING AREAS IN RWANDA

Birding around Kigali

Kigali is the entry point into Rwanda via the Kigali International Airport and therefore offers your first birding activity in Rwanda. There are a number of renowned birding spots within the City that to say, visiting new birders are provided with a good introduction to some of the local birds of Rwanda.

Volcanoes National Park

The Volcanoes National Park protects Rwanda’s part of the Virunga mountain range, and includes five volcanoes namely Mountains Muhavura, Gahinga, Sabinyo, Bisoke, and Karisimbi.

The Volcanoes National Park is famous for the Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys and is mostly visited for trekkers to observe these endangered and endemic primates and hikes to the volcanoes. It harbors about 165 bird species, 17 endemic to the area. It is a must visit for birding to catch the rare species and also enjoy the breathtaking Virunga scenery and a chance to encounter the Gorillas.

The park has a rich avifauna which includes many of the Albertine Rift endemics, including 3 globally threatened species namely the Lagden’s Bush-shrike, African Green Broad bill and the Kivu Ground Thrush. In the Afro tropical Highlands, 53 of the 74 species of blomes that occur in Rwanda are in Volcanoes National Park.

Nyungwe National Park

Nyungwe National Park is a tropical mountain rain forest and lies on the south-western slopes of the highland region. The park protects the region’s largest montane rain forest and is home to 310 species of bird. Nyungwe is by far the most popular birding destination in Rwanda, especially being sought out for the numerous Albertine rift endemics. (27 found here) Some of Nyungwe’s specials are: Regal Sunbird, Red-collared Babbler, Rwenzori Turaco, Handsome Spurfowl, Rwenzori Batis, Grauer’s Swamp Warbler, Blue-headed Sunbird, and Albertine Owlet. Nyungwe This forest also is home to the European Bee-Eater, and the Merops Apiaster. Spotting birds in Nyungwe Forest is much harder than listening to their bird songs; the vegetation is very dense and one can hear the birds a lot better than seeing them.

Akagera National Park

The Akagera National Park lies in the north east of the Rwanda, outside the high rising Albertine belt. It is covered by Savannah. Out of over 525 species, some of the most sought after birds of Akagera are: Red-faced Barbet, Sousa’s Shrike, and White-collared Olive back, 44 raptors, zambezian blome species as well as the Guinea-Congo forest blome and seven of the afrotropical highlands blome. The park also has a mosaic of wetlands and lakes, along the course of the Akagera River and the eastern boundary.

Wetlands and Marshes

Rwanda’s wetlands and marshes cover 10% of the country. The main protected ones include Rugezi, Akanyaru and Nyabarongo Wetlands where many waders and water species can be observed. Some of the sought after species in the wetland areas are: Carruther’s Cisticola, Papyrus Canary, Papyrus Gonolek and the Shoebill.

Rugezi marsh shelters

The Rugezi Marsh Shelters is Rwanda’s largest breeding population of grey crowned cranes, as well as the collared sunbird and strange weaver. Eastern Rwanda, in contrast, features savanna birds such as the black-headed gonolek and those associated with swamps and lakes. This would include storks and cranes.

When to go for Birding in Rwanda

Birding in Rwanda can be done all year round, which is amazing. However the period from December to February is the migrant bird season during which Rwanda hosts lots of Wintering and Palearctic migrants. Tailor made packages can be organized for you based on your interests.