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.