Working for birds in Africa



Wed, 02/06/2013 - 10:17 -- abc_admin

The following largely unconfirmed records have been published for interest only in ABC Bulletins.

from ABC Bulletin 21.1

A Franklin’s Gull Leucophaeus pipixcan was photographed in Rusizi National Park in early November 2012; this is perhaps the same individual that was reported subsequently in Uganda and Malaŵi.

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

Records from a short visit in February 2011 include the following. In the Rusizi Delta, close to Bujumbura, a Greater FlamingoPhoenicopterus (ruber) roseus seen on 5th was a surprise as the species is listed as a vagrant to the country; it has apparently been present since October 2010 at least. The delta held many waterbirds, such as African Openbills Anastomus lemelligerus (many), White-faced Dendrocygna viduata and Fulvous Whistling Ducks D. bicolor (hundreds), Knob-billed Ducks Sarkidiornis melanotos, Spur-winged Geese Plectropterus gambensis, African Skimmers Rynchops flavirostris (30+), and a few waders, including several Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola. Kibira forest, a huge Afro-montane forest that extends further north into Rwanda (Nyungwe), was visited on 6th and yielded a fair number of Albertine Rift endemics, including Red-faced Woodland Warbler Phylloscopus laetus, Mountain Masked Apalis Apalis personata, Rwenzori Apalis A. ruwenzorii, Rwenzori Batis Batis diops, Blue-headed Sunbird Cyanomitra alinae, Regal Sunbird Cinnyris regia, Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird C. stuhlmanni, Mountain Sooty Boubou Laniarius poensis, Strange Weaver Ploceus alienus and Dusky Crimsonwing Cryptospiza jacksoni. The country's political situation now appears generally stable, its infrastructure is improving, and travel is cheaper than in other countries in the region.


Three pairs of Chirping Cisticola Cisticola pipiens were found in a marshy area 200 m south of the golf course in Bujumbura in September 1992. This first record for Burundi represents a northward movement of 800 km from the Ufipa Plateau in Tanzania, and 550 km from the nearest locality in Marungu Highlands in Zaire. A further three sites were located in Burundi in October 1992. This species was only added to the East Africa list in 1990.


Fri, 01/11/2013 - 14:58 -- abc_admin


Fri, 01/11/2013 - 14:57 -- abc_admin

BirdLife International (2000) Threatened Birds of the World. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

KANYAMIBWA, S. and van de WEGHE, J-P. Burundi chapter pp 127-132 in FISHPOOL, L.D.C. and EVANS M.I. editors (2001) Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority sites for conservation. Newbury and Cambridge, UK. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11).


Fri, 01/11/2013 - 14:56 -- abc_admin

African Bird Club representative

Eric Niyongabo

Bird recorder and checklist compiler

Jean Pierre Van de weghe
BP 4080


Rue Edith Cavell 88
Bte 19
1180 Bruxelles

BirdLife International Contact

Association Burundaise pour la Protection des Oiseaux (ABO)
P.O. Box 7069



There are no addresses for clubs in Burundi at present.


Fri, 01/11/2013 - 14:55 -- abc_admin

Population pressure and civil strife have created a number of environmental issues such as soil erosion as a result of overgrazing, the expansion of agriculture into marginal lands, deforestation (little forested land remains because of uncontrolled cutting of trees for fuel), habitat loss which threatens wildlife populations.

Burundi is party to several International environmental agreements including Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes and Ozone Layer Protection.

Books & Sounds

Fri, 01/11/2013 - 14:55 -- abc_admin

The Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Stevenson and Fanshawe is extremely useful for this part of Africa and covers Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. The first edition was published in 2002 and a second edition is due later in 2012.

Birds of Africa south of the Sahara also covers all the species found in the East Africa region.


Book image: 
Book info: 
Field Guide to Birds of East Africa, Terry Stevenson & John Fanshawe, Poyser, Softback.
Book description: 

Helm Field Guide covering Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. The first complete guide to this region. 3400 images of 1388 species illustrated on 287 superb new colour plates by Brian Small, John Gale and Norman Arlott. The text plus distribution map and the illustrations for each species are on facing pages. 632 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Birds of Africa South of the Sahara, Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

Second edition, including 500 new images and 400 updated distribution maps. Unrivalled coverage of African birds in a single volume. 2129+ species covered with an additional 101 vagrants briefly described. Revised to reflect the latest changes in taxonomy. Species descriptions give precise identification features highlighting differences between similar species as well as briefly reporting habitat, status and call. Annotated illustrations portray distinctive plumages as well as diagnostic flight patterns and major geographic variants where applicable.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Photographic Guide to Birds of East Africa, Dave Richards, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

Field identification guide, with the text highlighting the diagnostic features for each species. For those species that are sexually dimorphic, have both breeding and non-breeding plumages, or in which the juvenile plumage differs markedly from that of the adult, more than one photograph has been included. A thumbnail silhouette and a distribution map are given for each species. 144 pages.


Fri, 01/11/2013 - 14:53 -- abc_admin

Birding tours

We know of no currently organised birding tours to Burundi.

Trip reports

We have been unable to find any recent trip reports.


There are no birding guides known in Burundi.


Read the following website or the embassy website for your own country for the latest safety and travel information UK FCO. If you decide to go to Burundi despite the travel warnings, there are a number of safety issues which are similar to those in any other African country. Guidebooks, travel companies and the above websites provide the advice one needs, but some key points warrant repetition here. (1) be aware of the risk of malaria, seek current advice, sleep in a sealed tent or under a net and take prophylaxis as recommended. (2) always ensure you have sufficient water and some method of purification (even if this comprises a pot and a campfire for boiling). (3) do not under-estimate the danger of being in the sun too long. Ensure you use sun-block and drink plenty of water, and wear a hat. (4) The incidence of Aids is high (5) Ensure that you take a reasonably-equipped first-aid pack with you including a supply of hypodermic needles.

We received the following from a correspondent who spent a short time in Burundi in February 2011.

"The Rusizi delta is an easily accessible site for visitors staying in Bujumbura: it takes just 15-20 minutes to get there and one can spend just a couple of hours or even a full day there. I was told by my local colleagues that the area was off-limits in the past because of “rebel activity” but the “delta sector” of the Rusizi is now safe to visit. The northern part (a vast natural palm forest) is still considered a rebel area however. The same can be said of Kibira: while the southern end is absolutely fine, several people told me that it’s best not to venture too far north into the forest, again because of rebel presence."


Fri, 01/11/2013 - 14:52 -- abc_admin

Teza tea plantation from Kibira Forest, Burundi

Image Credit: 
Bram Piot

Rusizi Reserve, Burundi

Image Credit: 
Bram Piot

There are few recent records. With a bird list of nearly 600 species in a small country, one would assume that birding could be done anywhere. The Important Bird Areas mentioned in Section 3 would probably make good areas to explore were it not for concerns about safety. The following information has been received from correspondents and cover some interesting sites near the capital Bujumbura.

Last Sunday (Februrary 2011) I had the chance to visit Kibira Forest in northern Burundi, a huge afro-montane forest that extends further north into Rwanda (Nyungwe) along the Congo-Nile divide. With a colleague who knows the area well, we set off from Bujumbura at sunrise and entered the forest through the Teza tea plantation, about an hour’s drive from Bujumbura and on the Nile side of the ridge. Access to the forest is pretty easy here. We slowly made our way to the forest, from an altitude of 2,000m up to around 2,500m, then back down the same way. We spent nearly 5 hours in mostly dense forest and managed to see a fair number of Albertine Rift endemics (marked with a * below) as well as a few other specials.

A massive Martial Eagle Polemaetus bellicosus flying over, as always a pretty impressive sight; several Black-billed Turacos Tauraco schuetti were heard, but not seen; Yellow-streaked Greenbul Phyllastrephus flavostriatus (a single and two feeding flocks); a fine Red-faced Woodland-Warbler* Phylloscopus laetus feeding in mid-stratum right above us; a few single White-browed Crombecs Sylvietta leucophrys; at least one Banded Prinia Prinia bairdii; no less than 5 Apalis species: Grey Apalis cinerea; Chestnut-throated A. porphyrolaema; Black-throated A. jacksoni; Mountain Masked* A. personata and Rwenzori* (= Collared) A. ruwenzorii. Chestnut-throated, Mountain Masked and Rwenzori all appear to be quite numerous in this part of the forest; A singing Rwenzori Hill-Babbler* Pseudoalcippe abyssinica atriceps; a small group of busy Stripe-breasted Tits* Parus fasciiventer (near the top, at about 2,500m); several Rwenzori Batis* Batis diops; Blue-headed* Cyanomitra alinae; Regal* Cinnyris regius; Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird* C. stuhlmanni (and probably Northern Double-collared C. reichnowi); Mountain Sooty Boubou* Laniarius poensis heard on a few occasions;  a probable Lagden’s Bush-Shrike Malacanotus lagdeni (only heard, call similar to Grey-headed but this species is unlikely to be found at this altitude in dense forest); probable Doherty’s Bush-Shrike Telophorus dohertyi; a single Strange Weaver* Ploceus alienus feeding low above the ground in the tangles and a pair of superb Dusky Crimsonwings* Cryptospiza jacksoni feeding among the ferns at very close range.

As well as the species listed above for the Kibira forest, most of the “Nyungwe specials” such as Red-collared Mountain-Babbler Kupeornis rufocinctus, Shelley’s Crimsonwing Cryptospiza shelleyi and Grauer’s Swamp Warbler Bradypterus graueri are present.

The tea plantations held Mackinnon’s Fiscal Lanius mackinnoni; Chubb’s Cisticola Cisticola chubbi; Black-and-white Mannikin Lonchura bicolor; Black-headed Waxbill Estrilda atricapilla; Streaky Seed-eater Serinus striolatus and White-chinned Prinia Schistolais leucopogon among others.

We also visited the Rusizi delta which is an easily accessible site for visitors staying in Bujumbura: it takes just 15-20 minutes to get there and one can spend just a couple of hours or even a full day there. While in the past I was told by my local colleagues that the area was off-limits because of “rebel activity”, the “delta sector” of the Rusizi is now safe to visit, but the northern part (a vast natural palm forest) is still considered a rebel area. There’s even been some investments in local infrastructure at the park HQ and staff have been given binoculars and a bird guide (the only problem with Stevenson & Fanshawe is that it’s in English, as far as I know there’s no French version); the main challenge now is to keep residents (and cattle) from nearby Catumba village out of the reserve, and the surrounding areas are under pressure as more and more villas and hotels are being built along the shores of lake Tanganyika.

I twice visited the Rusizi delta (on Sunday January 30th and briefly on Saturday February 5th 2011) which is only a few kilometers from Bujumbura and very good for various waterbirds – hundreds of White-faced Dendrocygna viduata and Fulvous Whistling Ducks D. bicolor, Knob-billed Ducks Sakidiornis melanotos, Spur-winged Goose Plectopterus gambensis, 30+ African Skimmers Rhynchops flavirostris, loads of African Openbill Storks Anastomus lamelligerus and a few waders including several Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola near the river mouth. The acacia woodland had a Brown-backed Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas hartlaubi, White-fronted Bee-eater Merops bullockoides and Olive-bellied Sunbird Cinnyris chloropygia. We also flushed one or two Square-tailed Nightjars Caprimilgus fossii. A Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber that flew in to the sandbanks on my 2nd visit was quite a surprise as this is listed as a vagrant to Burundi.

Bujumbura, the capital, is likely to be the first port of call for visitors. One correspondent has sent a list of species seen in and around Bujumbura in 2002 and a sample of these are shown by location. Garden Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis, African Harrier Hawk Polyboroides typus, African Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx cupreus, White-fronted Bee-eater Merops bullockoides, Brown-backed Honeybird Prodotiscus regulus, White-browed Robin-Chat Cossypha heuglini, Green-headed Sunbird Cyanomitra verticalis and Tropical Boubou Laniarius aethiopicus. Cercle Nautique Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia, Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata, Hartlaub's Babbler Turdoides hartlaubii and Holub's Golden Weaver Ploceus xanthops. Circle Hippique Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash, Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis and Red-faced Cisticola Cisticola erythrops.Small Game Park bordering cattle feedlot at outskirts of the city Copper Sunbird Cinnyris cupreus, Grey-backed Fiscal Lanius excubitoroides and Green-winged Pytilia Pytilia melba.


Fri, 01/11/2013 - 14:49 -- abc_admin

Country checklist and status


We are delighted that our Corporate Sponsor iGoTerra has made its country checklists, including subspecies (IOC or Clements) as well as all other species groups like mammals, butterflies etc. available through the ABC website. The only thing required is a Basic membership / registration which is free of charge. Go to Burundi checklists. If you are already a member of iGoTerra, you will be taken directly to the country page. In case you are not a member, you will be redirected automatically to the registration form and from there can go straight to the country page.​​​​​​​

Country checklists

Almost 600 species have been recorded in Burundi and of these, 439 are known or presumed to be resident and 109 are regular seasonal migrants.

Endemic species

There are no endemic species in Burundi.

Near endemic species (found in 3 or less African countries)

Red-collared Babbler Kupeornis rufocinctus
Congo Bay Owl Phodilus prigoginei
Rockefeller’s Sunbird Cinnyris rockefelleri

There are unlikely to be recent records from Burundi for any of these species.

Threatened species

Madagascar Pond Heron Ardeola idae Endangered
Shoebill Balaeniceps rex Vulnerable
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni Vulnerable
Congo Bay Owl Phodilus prigoginei Endangered
Grauer’s Swamp-Warbler Bradypterus graueri Endangered
Papyrus Yellow Warbler Chloropeta gracilirostris Vulnerable
Rockefeller’s Sunbird Cinnyris rockefelleri Vulnerable
Shelley’s Crimsonwing Cryptospiza shelleyi Vulnerable

The lists of endemic, near endemic and threatened species have been compiled from a number of sources including the African Bird Club, BirdLife International, and Birds of the World Version 2.0 ® 1994-1996, Dr. Charles Sibley and Thayer Birding Software, Ltd. For further information on Burundi’s threatened species, see reference (ii) and BirdLife International.

Important Bird Areas

Fri, 01/11/2013 - 14:48 -- abc_admin

There are no endemic species in Burundi but the montane forests and associated habitats hold 23 of the 37 species of the Albertine Rift Endemic Bird Area. Parts of four biome-restricted assemblages occur in Burundi: a very small element of Guinea-Congo Forests biome remains in the west with 8 out of the 278 restricted species; Lake Victoria Basin biome in the east of the country with 11 of its 12 species; the montane forests of the Congo-Nile watershed hold 66 species of the Afrotropical biome; and some elements of the Zambezian biome occur along with 9 of the 67 characteristic species. Wetlands include large areas of papyrus and all the African bird species that are endemic to such swamps occur. Most significant areas of wetland are in protected areas of which Burundi has five categories: National Park; Nature Reserve; Forest Reserve; Protection Forest and Natural Monument.

Five Important Bird Areas (IBAs) have been identified which cover 1,018 km2 or 3.7% of the area of the country. Three of these are National Parks and two are Forest or Nature Reserves. By habitat type, two IBAs are montane forest, two are wetlands and one is a mixture of savanna woodland and wetland.

Rwihinda Lake Managed Nature Reserve is immediately north of the town of Kirundo close to the Rwandan border. Lake Rwihinda lies a little upstream of the Akanyaru wetlands IBA in Rwanda. The area of the lake is 425 ha within a total protected area of 8,000 ha. This site held large numbers of breeding waterbirds in the past such as African Darter Anhinga rufa, Black Egret Egretta ardesiaca and Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala. As a result of decreasing water levels, fishing and agriculture, large numbers are rarely observed now. Other key species are Papyrus Yellow Warbler Chloropeta gracilirostris and Papyrus Gonolek Laniarius mufumbiri.

Kibira National Park is located in the north-west of the country and extends from the Rwandan border almost as far south as the town of Muramvya. This IBA is contiguous with the Nyungwe forest in Rwanda and together, they form a montane forest block of 130,000 ha. The forest holds many of the Albertine Rift endemics and is the most important site in Burundi for the conservation of montane forest birds. Key species include Red-collared Babbler Kupeornis rufocinctus, Grauer’s Swamp-Warbler Bradypterus graueri and Shelley’s Crimsonwing Cryptospiza shelleyi.

Ruvubu National Park is located in north-east Burundi and extends south from the Tanzanian border along a 65 km stretch of the Ruvubu river. More than 200 species have been recorded here as have large waterbird counts. Key species include Red-faced Barbet Lybius rubrifacies, Papyrus Yellow Warbler Chloropeta gracilirostris and Papyrus Gonolek Laniarius mufumbiri.

Rusizi National Park is north-west of the capital, Bujumbura and adjacent to the frontier with the Democratic Republic of Congo. It comprises a strip of flood-plain about 2 km wide and 35 km long beside the east bank of the Rusizi river and the Rusizi delta where it enters Lake Tanganyika. The site supports a wide diversity of waterbirds including high counts of Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus, Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor and White-faced Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna viduata. Other key species are White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus and African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris.

Bururi Forest Nature Reserve is situated on the extreme southern edge of the Congo-Nile divide and is a small patch of forest lying to the west of the town of Bururi in south-western Burundi. A total of 87 species have been recorded here.

For further details, download the country IBAs from BirdLife International.


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