Top Birds of Rwanda : Rwanda is rich in biodiversity with attractions including jaw-dropping landscapes, wildlife species including the endangered mountain gorillas, the big Five (lions, leopards, cape buffaloes, rhinos and elephants) among others and several bird species.
Rwanda is a perfect destination for ornithologists and bird enthusiasts, Rwanda is known for its abundance of birds boasting over 782 bird species with at least 525 of species residing in and around the lakes, woodlands and savannahs of Akagera national park.
The wide variety of birds in Rwanda come in all different colors, shapes and sizes, in this article there is a complied guide to the species that can easily be spotted in Rwanda.
AFRICAN FISH EAGLE
The African Fish Eagle is a strikingly beautiful bird with contrasting white/brown plumage and it is similar in appearance to the America Bald Eagle , African Fish Eagle is a spectacular and aggressive fishing bird and it is perhaps the most commonly spotted eagle in Africa.
Chances of observing the African Fish Eagle – the raptor in Rwanda are very high and expect to spot pairs of them nesting close to water sources such as Lake Kivu, the African Fish Eagle have a very distant call which is very amazing to hear.
Black-headed weaver is one of the species of birds you are guaranteed to see in Rwanda and they are usually found nesting in the tree in and around the visitor center of Rwanda’s protected areas such as Akagera national park. The Black-Headed weaver are easily identified by their bright yellow colour, big red eyes and black hood.
Lilac-Breasted roller is one of the most vibrantly colored birds in Akagera national park which will not go unnoticed during your Rwanda safari visit in the park, this bird is most identified for the electric blue plumage it posses on its under parts. Lilac – Breasted roller is bold and beautiful and occasionally drop onto ground from prominent perches such as roadside poles. Like fellow rollers, the lilac – breasted roller is renowned for its rolling flight display.
African Jacana is one of the widespread and common residents of freshwater ponds and lakes in Rwanda such as Lake Kivu, Kagera River among others. The African Jacana is a long-legged, long-toed water bird fond of walking and feeding on floating vegetation especially water-lilies. Because of its ability to walk on water, the African Jacana is also known as the Jesus bird.
The African Jacana is renowned for its striking chestnut and white plumage with a powder-blue bill and frontal shield.
White-browed coucal are common birds in Rwanda often found around water bodies in a wide range of rank vegetation, thickets, bushed and wooded grassland. The White-browed coucal are bulky birds with a dark crown and face separated by a long white eyebrow with pale streaking extending onto a brown-rufous back, these birds are also conspicuous bird and a cuckoo relative (though non-parastic), also has a variety of harsh kak notes.
Fork-Tailed Drongo is a small and inconspicuous glossy-black bird with bright orange eyes and best distinguished for its forked tail, this bird species id commonly found at forest edge, open wooded country and semi-arid bush.
As featured in the David Attenborough’s Africa series, the Fork-tailed Drongo has become famous for its mischievous ability to mimic other animals including large birds of prey and meerkats.
Saddle – billed stock is a very large black and white wader with a long tri-coloured bill, this bird gets its name from a yellow part of the bill that resembles a saddle. In contrast to the other stork species, the saddle-billed is one of the more aesthetically pleasing birds.
Saddle-billed Stork are often solitary birds but sometimes they are found in pairs mostly around Akagera wetlands in Akagera national park.
AFRICAN GREY HORNBILL
Africa Grey Hornbill are the most commonly spotted bird in the hornbill family in Akagera national park , these birds are often widespread and common residents in woodland, bushed and wooded grassland. Like most hornbill species, the African Grey Hornbill exhibit dramatic courtship displays in which they rock on perches, point their bill skywards and flick open their wings. The Female have a purplish – red tip to their long curved bill.
Long-Crested Eagle is possibly the second most commonly spotted eagle in Akagera national park after the African Fish Eagle, this beautiful bird is easily identified for its brightly yellow eyes and long crest of feathers which often wave around in the wind.
In Rwanda you will most likely spot the Long – crested Eagle perched at the top of roadside poles and tree waiting to swoop on unsuspecting rodents.
WHITE-FACED WHISTLING DUCK
White – faced whistling ducks are long – legged, long – necked duck fond of making loud far – carrying whistling which frequently attract attention. The White – faced Whistling Duck is a gregarious bird/species with small to large flocks fond of gathering around the Akagera great lakes, this bird is easy to spot by their chestnut coloured neck and distinct white face at a closer glance.
Woodland kingfisher is a beautiful little bird with dove-grey, black and bright blue plumage and striking red and black bill. Contrary to the woodland part of its name, the woodland kingfisher is often found well away from water, frequenting wooded areas where its preys upon insects, lizards and on occasion small birds. These birds are wide spread and common in singles and pairs.
Palm- nut vulture is one of the 3 fish-eating raptors that can be found in close proximity to Akagera lakes together with the African Fish Eagle and Osprey, the palm – nut vulture is very different in shape when compared to other vulture species with a bold black and white plumage.
The Palm-Nut vulture often perch on tree branches with a hunched appearance, they have long bills for fishing and large area of bare-pinkish skin around the eyes.
Cattle Egret is one of the interesting bird to see in Rwanda, cattle egret is a short-legged heron with mostly white plumage with a buff-orange on the head, back and breast. This bird is a classic game-hugging bird and is often seen hunting for small animals flushed out of the ground by larger mammals including elephant, hippos and Cape buffalo.
Little Bee – eaters are pretty little birds with mostly green plumage and a yellow throat, they also have a short, narrow blue stripe just above the black eye mask and a gain over the throat patch. When perched, Little Bee- Eaters sit in a fairly upright position with slowly wagging tail. These birds prey mostly on insects, snapping them up with an audible click.
Marabou stork are enormous birds commonly thought as the uglies bird species not only in Rwanda or Africa but in the world. Marabou storks are easily identified for their naked pink-reddish head and neck with scabby lack spots, these birds are massive in flights with one of the largest wingspans of all birds.
Grey – crowned crane is an attractive and very conspicuous bird and the national bird of Uganda, this bird is mostly grey with dark-chestnut, black and white wings. However it is most notable for its bristly golden crown on its head,
Grey – crowned crane ranges well way from water areas so as to feed and the best chances of observing this impressive bird are around lakes and inundated grasslands.
Helmeted Guineafowl is a distinctive spotted game bird easily identified by an upright bony casque on top of the head with electric blue face and red-tipped wattles, this bird species is known to stop traffic with its stubbornness over making way for vehicles and they are commonly spotted in the ground and in large flocks. Helmeted Guineafowl frequent a wide range of grassland, bush country and woodland.
BARE-FACED GO-AWAY BIRD
Bare-faced go-away bird is a charismatic birds and open relatives of the vibrant turacos, these bird get their name from their loud onomatopoeic calls. Bare-faced go-away bird are quite slender with black face, white neck and breast and a tall grey crest , these birds are commonly found in pairs and often confide in open woodland and bush country.
Goliath Heron is the world’s largest heron standing at 152 cm high, this bird is a common resident Akagera national park of Rwanda. A side from its massive size , the bird is easily recognizable for its spear like bill and warm chestnut head and hindneck.
Goliath Heron are live as singles and rarely small groups , despite of their size, herons remain relatively unnoticed to the inattentive eye.
Spur – winged goose are easily distinguished birds by their size and plumage, these birds frequent mostly around freshwater sources. Spur-winged goose have large long necks and a bare warty red face.
Spur-winged goose make slow and labored flight and in doing so, they display a long white bar along the leading edge on the wing. Their flight calls is a repeated variably rapid double wheezy note, almost like a hiccup.
OTHER COMMONLY SPOTTED SPECIES in Rwanda
- African Darter
- African Wattled Lapwing
- Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
- Common Squacco Heron
- Crowned Lapwing
- Eastern Grey Plantain-eater
- Great Egret
- Grey-backed Fiscal
- Lappet-faced Vulture
- Little Egret
- Long-tailed Cormorant
- Pin-tailed Whydah
- Red-billed Firefinch
- White-backed Vulture