Established in 1997, the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is situated within Nakasongola district and is so far the only place in Uganda to see wild rhinos in their natural habitats thus it ensures the protection of these endangered mammals in Uganda in addition to functioning as a Reserve for other wildlife species. Much as the Rhinos are the main attractions within the Sanctuary, it is also a haven to over 300 species of birds thus making it a perfect birding spot during a safari in Uganda.
It boasts of four wonderful bird trails within the Sanctuary that covers the woodlands, savannah and swamp ecosystems. The bird guides are experienced and this adventurous activity is one you can never miss, especially if you are a bird lover. The best time to conduct birding within the area is from 7 to 9 am and 4 to 6 pm mostly lasting 2 hours.
The commonest species of birds to look out for include the Emerald-spotted wood Dove, Africa morning Dove, Egyptian goose, Common waxbills, African open-billed storks, crested francolins, the African Paradise Flycatcher, Augur buzzard, Crowned hornbills, Fork-tailed Drongo, the African pied wagtails, Barred warblers, Curlew Sandpiper, African pygmy kingfisher, Fan-tailed widow cuckoo, the Dark-caped yellow warblers, African Scop’s owls, the double-toothed barbets, Eurasian Hobby, Dusky tit, Bare-faced go-away bird, Black and white Manikin, Eastern grey plantain eater, Barn swallow, Bat Hawk, Black and white shrike flycatcher, the grey-backed fiscal shrike, Blue-napped mouse bird, grey-backed Camaroptera, blue-cheeked bee-eater, Green wood hoopoe, blue-breasted kingfisher, green crombec, white0winhged terns, Black-winged bishop, greater blue-eared starlings, black-shouldered kites, great sparrow hawks, black kites, grey crowned cranes, great reed warblers, great egret, black-headed gonolek, yellow-billed shrike, grassland Pipit, black Cuckoo, Goliath Herons, Black-crowned waxbills, giant kingfishers, yellow-fronted canary, black crowned Tchagra, foxes weaver, the black-bellied Bustard, shoebill storks, Red-headed weavers, Red-knobbed coot, the red-rumped swallow, Red-throated Wryneck, red-winged Doves, Ross’ turaco, Sacred Ibis, Rufus-billed herons, Saddle-billed storks, the Sand Martins, Scaly-throated honey guide, Scarlet-chested sunbirds, sedge warblers, wood sandpiper, semi-colored flycatcher, Senegal Coucal, Soot chat, Speckled Pigeon, speckled mouse bird, speckled weavers, spotted eagle owls, Spur-winged lapwings, Lemon dove, long crested eagles, Eurasian nightjar, For-tailed Drongo, white winged terns, yellow-throated long claws, yellow-billed storks, yellow-breasted Apalis, Fan-tailed widow bird, white-browed coucal, white-browed robin chat, white-crested turaco, white-rumped swift, Steppe eagle, Tawny Eagles, yellow wagtail, lesser kestrel, violet-tipped courser, Tambourine Dove, Spur-winged nightjar, Lesser masked weavers, white-bellied tit and the white-faced whistling duck among others.
What to carry during birding in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Any tourist interested in birding in this area is required to pack closed shoes/ or hiking boots, long trousers/pants, insect repellant, long-sleeved shirt, enough drinking water, a backpack, pair of binoculars, camera, a hat and a bird guidebook among others.
How to Access the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary during your Uganda safari
This Sanctuary is conveniently situated within Nakasongola district (branch off at Nakitoma Trading Center) at approximately 176 kilometers (100 miles) north of Uganda’s Capital on the Kampala-Gulu highway towards the Murchison falls National Park. This means if you have more time, feel free to extend your birding to Murchison falls N.P for more bird species including water birds on River Nile.