Montane forests offer the most excellent birding opportunities because few but unique bird species make these “unfavorable” or “inhospitable” climatic conditions of the high Rwenzori Mountains their homes. The “mountain of the moon”-as it is always referred is an Important Bird Area that lies in Western Uganda, on the Eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley on the Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo border. This magnificent Park lies in three districts that include Bundibugyo, Kabarole and Kasese. Rwenzori Mountains National Park covers an area of 998 square kilometers/385 miles and is a home to the third highest mountain Peak (Mount Margherita) in Africa.
Rwenzori Mountain is a home to about 250 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift Endemic Bird species including the Long-tailed Turaco and Chested bee-eater and other 17 bird species endemic to the Rwenzori Mountains which makes this place a perfect birdwatcher’s paradise. It was established into a National park in 1991; subsequently a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and in 2008 it gained the status of a Ramsite Site because of its outstanding beauty and biological diversity. This Park is characterized by different vegetation zones in varying altitudes, with each zone harboring exceptional bird species.
Most of these Bird species are sighted during nature walks in the Montane forest zones (from 1800 meters to over 2500 meters above sea level) and the common species include Rwenzori Olive Thrush, African Lammergeyer, Lanner Falcon, Rwenzori brown woodland warbler, White-tailed crested flycatcher, golden-winged sunbird, Rwenzori hill babbler, Red throated Alethe, Mountain Buzzard, Bamboo warbler, Collared Apalis, Rwenzori Puffback flycatcher, slender-billed starling, Black ducks, Slender-billed Chestnut winged Starling, Dusky flycatcher, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Scarlet-tufted Malachite, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Johnston’s Rwenzori Turaco, Western lemon dove, Regal sunbird, Stripe-breasted tit, blue-headed sunbirds, Rwenzori Nightjar, the long-eared owl, Verreaux’s eagles, Black rough wing swallow, Black-billed Turaco, Strange weaver, Olive-breasted Mountain Greenbul, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Handsome Francolins, Mountain yellow flycatcher, Long-tailed Cuckoo, Rwenzori Turaco, Olive wood-peckers, white-starred robin, White-necked raven, Mountain Illadopsis, Rwenzori streaky seed-eater, Green white eye, Rufous Sparrow hawk, Toro olive Greenbul, Archers’ robin-chat, Kivu grosbeak seed-eater, Golden-winged Sunbird Alpine Swift, Olive Pigeon, bearded vultures, Mountain Chat, Rwenzori white-starred Bush Robin, Red-faced woodland warbler, Cinnamon scrub warbler, East African Grey Cuckoo Shrike, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Rwenzori Double-collared sunbird and the Lagden’s bush shrike.
The higher slopes of the Rwenzori Mountains are popular for the Birds of Prey like Black Eagles, Bearded vultures, swifts and other bird species like the Long-eared Owls, and the Rwenzori Turacos
The equipments needed for a memorable birding experience in the Rwenzori Mountains include binoculars and cameras. Also make sure to wear long sleeved shirts, sweaters because of the extreme coldness on the upper slopes of the mountain, wear waterproof light hiking boots and carry a walking stick to support you as you hike to the upper slopes. Just like otter National Parks in Uganda, the best bird watching time in Rwenzori Mountains National park is the rainy season because you get the chance to see the migratory bird species, and who wouldn’t wish to see these colorful birds?