Working for birds in Africa



Wed, 02/06/2013 - 15:26 -- abc_admin

Strange Weaver Ploceus alienus in Nyungwe Forest Reserve in July 2011

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

The following largely unconfirmed records have appeared in Bulletins of the African Bird Club and are for information only.

from ABC Bulletin 25.1

On 2 December 2017, a group of c.100 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa was observed at Bugesera, in the south-east (Fig. 23; CN); there is just one previous record for Rwanda, of a single in ricefields of the Nyabugogo Valley on 28 December 1986 (Vande weghe, J. P. & Vande wege, G. R. 2011. Birds in Rwanda)

from ABC Bulletin 24.1

A Secretary-bird Sagittarius serpentarius remained on the Kilala Plain, Akagera National Park, from 22 October until at least 13 November 2016; according to Vande weghe & Vande weghe (2011. Birds in Rwanda—An Atlas and Handbook) the species is an irregular visitor, with only five previous records, the last being from 1990 to the south of the park. In August, a Shoebill Balaeniceps rex was showing well on the Kilala Plain; this scarce resident breeds in the large swamps of Akagera, but sightings are rare. A Southern Ground Hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri was observed near rice paddies in Rusumo District, south-east Rwanda, on 13 November; this uncommon and irregular visitor was probably a wanderer from Burundi or Tanzania (JH)

from ABC Bulletin 23.2

The first Eastern (Long-tailed) Paradise Whydah Vidua paradisaea for the country was photographed near Ibanda-Makera Forest, Kirehe District, on 15 May 2016 (JHo & JdG); the species is not mentioned in Vande weghe & Vande weghe (2011. Birds in Rwanda). Possibly the same male was observed c.30 km away, at itta Pitta angolensis was photographed near Bambou Lodge, at the edge of Volcanoes National Park, on 15 May—a notable sighting (per JHo). A male Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis was noted in Kigali on 18 March; this species is seldom recorded in Rwanda (JHo).

from ABC Bulletin 22.2

A Black Stork Ciconia nigra was roosting in a tree in Akagera National Park on 22 March 2015; according to Vande weghe & Vande weghe (2011. Birds in Rwanda) this is the first record of this species since 1969. 

from ABC Bulletin 22.1

The most noteworthy records from the period September–December 2014 include the following. A Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor was photographed at Hippo Beach, Lake Mihindi, Akagera National Park (=NP), on 11 September; according to Vande Weghe & Vande Weghe (2011. Birds in Rwanda: An Atlas and Handbook) this is the first confirmed record since 1987. White-backed Duck Thalassornis leuconotus and Lesser Jacana Microparra capensis, both reported as very rare and probably locally extinct due to habitat loss (Vande Weghe & Vande Weghe 2011) were observed in good numbers by the Rwanda Birding Club; the former was present at a dam near Nyamata in Bugesera District and the latter at two locations in Bugesera District and at Rugezi Swamp. An injured female Striped Crake Amaurornis (=Aenigmatolimnas) marginalis was found in Akagera NP on 13 December; there are fewer than ten records in Rwanda. An immature Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni was observed at Lake Garharwa, Bugesera District, on 15 October; although field guides state that the species is frequent in Rwanda, Vande Weghe & Vande Weghe (2011) mention no records since 1984. A subadult male Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus was seen in Akagera NP on 19 October; this species is very irregularly recorded in the country. 

from ABC Bulletin 21.2

A presumably over-summering juvenile Osprey Pandion haliaetus was observed at Lake Muhazi on 8 and 14 June 2014; the only record in the boreal summer months mentioned by Vande Weghe &Vande Weghe (2011. Birds in Rwanda) is that of a bird in Akagera National Park in July 1971. A Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus seen in Kigali on 15 May is a late date; the previous latest record is 5 May.

from ABC Bulletin 20.2

A Crested Barbet Trachyphonus vaillantii was observed near the golf course in Kigali on 18 May 2013; this is apparently a new locality for this species, which was previously known only from Akagera National Park (=NP) on the eastern border. After having been observed for six consecutive years during its migration through the country in May, no African Pittas Pitta angolensis were recorded in 2013; the first sightings date from May 2007, when it was found in Buhanga Eco-Park and Musanze. Peter's Twinspot Hypargos niveoguttatus, a rare bird in Rwanda, was recorded in Mashoza Forest, a small and unprotected patch in the east; the species was previously known only from Akagera NP.

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

A Rockefeller’s Sunbird Cinnyris rockefelleri was reported from Nyungwe (Forest) National Park on 18 November 2010. The bird was being chased by a Regal Sunbird C. regia and at one stage both birds perched next to each other. The extensive red and limited yellow on the underparts, as well as the call, which was totally different from that of Regal Sunbird, were noted.


What appears to be the first Amethyst Sunbird Chalcomitra amethystina for Rwanda, a male, was photographed in a eucalypt and pine plantation, c.4 km east of Kibungo town, Ngoma District, on 21 August 2010; it was accompanied by a second bird, presumably a female. Other noteworthy records from 2010, with one from late 2009, include a Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus at Gahini on 7 February; four Madagascar Pond Herons Ardeola idae at Kageyo on 6 June; a Forbes's Plover Charadrius forbesii photographed on a small reservoir near Kageyo village on the western fringes of Akagera National Park on 22 August; a Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, a rare vagrant, at Gisenyi, on the shores of Lake Kivu, on 28 December 2009; a Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus at Lake Bulear on 20 March, a Brown-backed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas hartlaubi at Gahini on 7 February; and a Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis at Nyankora on 28

A pair of Green-backed Eremomelas Eremomela canescens found in open woodland in Akagera National Park on 8 April 2010 appears to be the first for Rwanda. The grey crown and nape, blackish mask, contrasting green upperparts, white throat and upper breast, and yellow lower breast and belly were clearly seen. A Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea, a generally scarce Palearctic winter visitor, was observed at Bugarama, near the Rubyiro River, in December 2008.

Records from Nyungwe Forest from the period June - October 2008 include the following. Breeding records include the following species seen on the nest: Mountain Buzzard Buteo oreophilus (13 June), Olive Woodpecker Dendropicos griseocephalus (3 August), Red-faced Woodland Warbler Phylloscopus laetus (15 June), Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher Melaenornis ardesiacus (3 August), African Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis (12 July), Waller’s Starling Onychognathus walleri (13 June), Strange Weaver Ploceus alienus and Dark-backed Weaver P. bicolor (28 June). An African Dusky Flycatcher Muscicapa adusta was seen feeding a nestling on 2 August. A flock of ten Red-collared Babblers Kupeornis rufocinctus with two short tailed juveniles were found on Bigugu trail on 25 July and on 2 August an adult was seen carrying nesting material. A Dusky Crimsonwing Cryptospiza jacksoni was nest building in vine tangles near Kamiranzovu swamp on 13 September.

Notable migrants in Nyungwe included a flock of 12 European Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus flying south on 12 October, an African Blue Quail Coturnix  adansonii at Kitabi, at over 2,000 m, on 22 August, and three large flocks of
European Bee-eaters Merops apiaster on 13 October.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus has now reached Rwanda: it was observed in Gitarama in June and in Kigali in September.

An African Pitta Pitta angolensis was seen in Buhanga Forest, on the outskirts of Musanze, Ruhengeri, Northern Province, on 17 - 18 May 2008. Interestingly, single African Pittas were reported around the same dates in 2006, in Buhanga Forest and in a garden in Musanze, and also elsewhere in Rwanda / south- west Uganda.

A male Nubian Woodpecker Campethera nubica was seen in Buhanga Forest, on the outskirts of Musanze (Ruhengeri), on 26 July 2007; the small forest has no formal protection, but local people maintain it as a sacred site. This would constitute the second record for the country, the first having been reported in November 1989 from Akagera National Park. Previous records of the similar-looking Bennett’s Woodpecker C. bennettii in Rwanda are presumed to be based on misidentifications.

An African Pitta Pitta angolensis was found in a garden in the town of Musanze, Ruhengeri, Northern Province, on 19 May 2006, and stayed for several days. It fed on a wide variety of insects and worms and could be approached to within 2 m.

Red-faced Barbet Lybius rubrifacies was found to be still common in what remains of Akagera National Park, where at least 13 were seen on 1-2 June 2005; this species has a very restricted range and Akagera is probably the site where it is most easily observed.

In June 2003, a short, hassle-free trip to the country produced the following records. In Nyungwe Forest, the majority of the Albertine Rift endemics were found, including Handsome Francolin Francolinus nobilis, Rwenzori Turaco Ruwenzorornis johnstoni, Abyssian (Kivu) Ground-Thrush Zoothera (piaggiae) tanganjicae, Grauer's Swamp-Warbler Bradypterus graueri, Red-collared Babbler Kupeornis rufocinctus, Stuhlmann's Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris stuhlmanni and others. Uniformly dark swifts, uttering tic calls similar to those of Scarce Swift Schoutedenapus myoptilus but much less frequent, possibly were Schouteden's Swift S. schoutedeni, which has been recorded less than 70 km away. In Akagera National Park, which is now about one-third of its former size but has the new boundaries apparently properly defined (and marked on a new map), sightings included Shoebill Balaeniceps rex and Red-faced Barbet Lybius rubrifacies.

In Nyungwe Forest Reserve, the endangered Grauer's Swamp-Warbler Bradypterus graueri and Kungwe Apalis Apalis (rufogularis) argentea (the latter treated as a race of the widespread Buff-throated Apalis Apalis rufogularis by the African Bird Club) were still well represented and easily found along the tarred road around the campsite, during a short and quite safe visit in June 2001.


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:37 -- abc_admin


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:35 -- abc_admin

ANDERSON, J. (2012) First records of Green-backed Eremomela Eremomela canescens and Amethyst Sunbird Chalcomitra amethystina for Rwanda. ABC Bulletin 19(1) pp 73-74.

ANDERSON, J. (2012) Fiery-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus pectoralis and Black-shouldered Nightjar C. nigriscapularis in Rwanda. ABC Bulletin 19(2) pp 194-199.

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

BYARUHANGA, A.and ØSTERGAARD, K. (2008) First records of Dimorphic Egronline.ets Egretta dimorpha for Uganda and Rwanda. ABC Bulletin 15(2) pp 253-254.

COHEN, C., RYAN, P., CLAASEN, M. and NTOYINKA Cl. (2010) Birding Rwanda - in search of Red-collared Babbler Kupeornis rufocinctus, Albertine Rift endemics and more. ABC Bulletin 17(2) pp 229-237. You can read this online.

DOWSETT, R.J. editor (1990) Survey of the Fauna and Flora of Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda. Tauraco Research Report No.3. Download this paper*. Please note that this paper is 11 mb and may take some minutes to download depending on your connection speed. Please contact the websmaster if you are having problems downloading the file.

KANYAMIBWA, S. Rwanda chapter pp 703-710 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).

PLUMTRE, A.J., MASOZERA, M., FASHING, P.J., MCNEILAGE, A., EWANGO, C., KAPLIN, B.A. and LIENGOLA, I. (2002) Working Paper no. 18: Biodiversity surveys of the Nyungwe Forest Reserve in S.W. Rwanda. Wildlife Conservation Society. 

* In order to view and print this paper, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:33 -- abc_admin

African Bird Club representative

Claudien Nsabagasani

[email protected]

Jan 2010 report from Marcell Claasen

Jun 2009 report from Marcell Claasen

Feb 2009 report from Marcell Claasen

Sep 2008 report from Marcell Claasen

Bird recorder and checklist compiler

Dr Sam Kanyamibwa
40 St Vincents Close,


CB3 0PE,

Email: [email protected]

BirdLife Associate:

Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (ACNR)

P O Box 4290
Email: [email protected]


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:31 -- abc_admin

View across Nyungwe Forest Reserve from near the visitor centre at Uwinka.

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

L'Hoest's Monkey in Nyungwe Forest Reserve

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Africa's first National Park, Virunga, was created in north-western Rwanda in 1925 in order to protect the Mountain Gorilla Gorilla gorilla beringei.

Until 1997, some 15% of the country was included in National Parks and reserves. In that year, the largest National Park, Akagera was reduced to 40% of its original size and today, only 8% of Rwanda’s land area is assigned to wildlife. This includes National Parks, Hunting Reserves, Special Reserves and Forest Reserves KANYAMIBWA, S. (2001).

The Wildlife Conservation Society has been heavily involved in surveying Nyungwe Forest Reserve (PLUMTRE, A.J. et al 2002). This was proclaimed a National Park by the government of Rwanda in 2004. It covers an area of about 90,000 ha and is an IBA in which 275 bird species have been recorded. It is one of the most important areas of forest for the conservation of montane birds in the region.

Rwanda has ratified a number of international treaties including Biodiversity; CITES; Convention on Climate Change; and Desertification. Volcans National Park has been designated a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Programme.

A conservation project has studied the endangered Grauer's Swamp Warbler Bradypterus graueri and the vulnerable Papyrus Yellow Warbler Chloropeta gracilirostris in north-west Rwanda. Grauer's Swamp Warbler had a population of at least 370 singing males at an unprotected site, Rugezi swamp. Papyrus Yellow Warbler was represented by only a few individuals in an apparently rehabilitated papyrus patch.

Conservation News

27th April 2007: Survey uncovers Grauer’s Swamp-warbler nest

Recent surveys of Africa’s Albertine Rift Valley have shed new light on Grauer’s Swamp-warbler Bradypterus graeuri, a particularly vocal Endangered bird that occurs nowhere else on Earth. In the past, adult swamp-warblers have been recorded throughout the Rift Valley, in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. Yet breeding and nesting behaviour - two vital facets of information for conservationists working to save the species - remained largely unknown, until now.

“During our routine surveys of the Kabatwa Swamp in the Volcanoes National Park [in Rwanda], we came across a small cup-shaped nest perched in foliage 35cm from the ground. The nest was built from Poa leptocrada and other sedges. To our surprise there were two chicks sitting in the nest,” said Claudien Nsabagasani, Ornithological Researcher with Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI) and IBA Focal Point for Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda, ACNR (BirdLife in Rwanda).

“We revisited the Swamp-warbler nest daily from then on to acquire information on nesting and feeding behaviour before the chicks fledged a week later.” The photos of the warbler nest are Rwanda’s first, shedding important light on the reproductive ecology of the species.

The surveyors, supported by funding from RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and DFGFI, had been monitoring Grauer’s Swamp-warbler over four seasons, starting in July 2006, in the Volcanoes National Park, an Important Bird Area (IBA).  “With threatened species, every nest counts,” said Paul Kariuki Ndang’ang’a, the Species Programme Manager at BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat. "Information on where the birds choose to make their nests -at what height, and in what foliage– are all crucial pieces of information for those involved in managing and surveying these sites to help secure populations of threatened species.”

Grauer’s Swamp-warbler is listed as Endangered as a result of its very small, fragmented and declining range – a reflection of habitat loss as the Rift Valley’s mountain forests are converted to cultivation and pasture.

 “The swamp-warbler population in the Volcanoes IBA are protected, which is encouraging news for the future of these newly discovered young fledglings,” said Serge Nsengimana, the ACNR Executive Officer. “But site protection remains a critical issue for the species as a whole.” “Hopefully this added knowledge on nesting behaviour will help in our efforts to save this endemic species from possible extinction.” In 2005, an ACNR-led team discovered Rwanda’s first Grauer’s Swamp-warbler nest at Rugezi Swamp, an IBA currently lacking legal protection.

Source: BirdLife International News

23rd October 2006: Teachers and 50 children from Nyabirehe Primary School joined staff from Karisoke Research Center to celebrate local bird life.

The school is close to Volcanoes National Park, one of seven Important Bird Areas (IBAs) identified in Rwanda. The children performed dances and sketches on the importance of bird conservation. The Volcanoes National Park Local Community Warden, Janvier Kwizera, praised the school for its initiative and asked the pupils to be ambassadors in the local population, raising awareness of environmental issues and protection of biodiversity. Claudien Nsabagasani, a researcher at the Center led a birdwatching excursion around the national park and commented: “children were given the opportunity to identify and watch birds in their natural habitat, which helped to create awareness about their importance”.

Source: Birdlife International news

Books & Sounds

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:28 -- 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, 01/25/2013 - 11:26 -- abc_admin

Papyrus Gonolek Laniarus mufumbiri in Papyrus marsh, Rwanda

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Red-throated Alethe Alethe poliophrys in Nyungwe forest

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Birding tours

Birding & BeyondBirding AfricaRockjumperSafari Consultants, and Sunbird operate tours to Rwanda.

Trip reports

Moorhouse, N. and Sargeant, D. Rwanda, June 2003. rwanda trip report 1

For a list of species seen during a 6-day visit to Nyungwe and Akagera in July 2003, please email [email protected].

The following items have been updated following a trip to Rwanda in July 2011.


International travellers are likely to fly to Kigali which has flights or connections to several African and European destinations. A useful flight is on KLM from Amsterdam to Kigali, Entebbe in Uganda and return to Amsterdam. There are regular flights from Kigali to Entebbe and Nairobi. You should note that plastic is not welcome in Rwanda and plastic bags with duty free items will be confiscated on arrival at Kigali airport.

Entry to Rwanda can also be made by road at several border crossings. The road is metalled from the Ugandan border to Kigali and this provides a route from Bwindi in Uganda. For birders and other ecotourists therefore, it is convenient to visit both Rwanda and Uganda, flying into to one country and departing from the other with road connections between the main national parks in both countries.

A passport, visa for nationals of some countries and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required for entry. Visas are not required for UK visitors but it is worth checking your own requirements with your local embassy.

Rwanda is a small country with a good network of tarmac roads and frequent and generally punctual buses. Public transport is therefore simpler and quicker than elsewhere in central Africa. Nyungwe is easily reached by bus from Kigali (4 to 5 hours). Car hire is expensive. 4x4 is even more expensive and may not be strictly necessary for the more frequent destinations in the west of the country, but could be helpful in Akagera. Taxis are plentiful in and around Kigali and the airport.

French and, increasingly, English are widely spoken. By the standards of African capitals, Kigali is safe and well organised, though visitors should take care at night and beware of pick-pockets. The events of 1994 are long past and should not deter visitors. The border with DRC is safe, though the Burundi border is uneasy.

The Bradt Travel guide to Rwanda by Janice Booth and Phillip Briggs contains lots of useful travel information.


The Rwandan Franc is the currency in Rwanda and its symbol can be written RF. The Rwandan Franc is divided into 100 centimes. The exchange rate was around 600 Rwandan Francs to $US1 in July 2011. Rwandan Francs can be bought for $US, Euros and £UK at Forex bureaux. Foreign currency can also be exchanged at Kigali airport on arrival although the rate is unlikely to be as good as Forex. Some of the larger hotels will also exchange or allow payment in foreign currency.

US notes earlier than 2006 may be unacceptable in Rwanda. Currency notes attract better exchange rates than travellers cheques.


Good quality hotel accommodation in Kigali was found at $US55 for a single room for one night. Payment in US$ was acceptable.

The national parks have lodges and alternative accommodation is available in the vicinity. Camping is also a possibility so it is worth considering alternatives close to the major sites and finding something which suits your price and requirements.

Food and Drink

A range of food is available in hotels which should suit most tastes. Lodges in the national parks provide a set meal or selection from a buffet. Bottled water (500mL, 1 L, 1.5L) is recommended and can be purchased in supermarkets in the main towns as can soft drinks. 500mL bottles of cold beer are also widely available. Wines and spirits are also available at the more up-market places and lodges, but can be expensive.


It is worth seeing the following websites or the embassy website for your own country for the latest safety and travel information US Travel and UK FCO.

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 much of 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.


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:22 -- abc_admin

Black-headed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus in Kigali

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Lesser Honeyguide Indicator minor in Kigali

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Nyungwe Forest Reserve

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Purple-breasted Sunbird Cinnyris bifasciatus at Nyungwe

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Sulphur-breasted Bush-Shrike Telophorus sulfureopectus, Akagera, Rwanda

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Black-headed Gonolek Laniarius erythrogaster in Papyrus marsh, Rwanda

Image Credit: 
John Caddick


Most visitors from overseas will pass through or stay for a few days in the capital, Kigali. A half or one day visit to the area around the golf course, nearby lake and degraded woodland habitat would be productive. The following species were among some of those found in a three hour visit to this area in July 2011: Pink-backed Pelican Pelecanus rufescens; Narina Trogon Apaloderma narina; Lesser Honeyguide Indicator minor; Black Cuckoo-Shrike Campephaga flava; Bronzy Sunbird Nectarinia kilimensis; Grey-backed Fiscal Lanius excubitorius; Ruppell's Starling Lamprotornis purpuroptera and Black-headed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus.


The best birding in the Albertine Rift in Rwanda is to be had in Nyungwe Forest Reserve. 25 Albertine Rift endemics have been recorded here. This reserve adjoins the Kibira National Park in Burundi to protect one of the largest areas of montane forest in Africa. The tar road from Butare to Cyangugu on the DRC border runs through the heart of the forest. The site has regular public transport, a camp site (at the summit of the pass, in the centre of the forest) and inexpensive guest house (on the western edge of the forest).

The following information was received from an ABC member in August 2009 with updates from the July 2011 tour.

  • It costs $US20 per person to enter the park, with no extra charge for subsequent consecutive days.
  • A birding guide costs $US30 per day, this on top of the entry charge. The specialist bird guides are good.
  • It may be possible to birdwatch without a guide by simply walking on the main road that runs through the park, as the road per se is not part of the park. The birding is excellent from the road but some of the forest birds would not be found along the road.
  • An excelent new visitor centre has been built at Uwinka.
  • It would be a good idea to book accommodation (the guesthouse on the Western edge of the park or camping at Uwinka) in advance during dry season weekends, as the park is popular with the many westerners working in Kigali who come to visit habituated chimpanzees.
  • There is the possibility of camping at the tea factory near the guesthouse on the Western edge of the park.
  • Nyungwe NP as a whole must be the best readily accessible protected montane rainforest area in Africa.

You can download a paper by DOWSETT, R.J. editor (1990) Survey of the Fauna and Flora of Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda. Tauraco Research Report No.3 from the Rwanda references page.


Rwanda’s Akagera National Park, a savanna-dominated area in the north-east of the country that lies in the Victoria Basin, is still its largest, but has been reduced in size by over 60% in the last 10 years.This area holds an interesting selection of species associated with a diversity of habitats: wetlands, woodlands, grasslands, riparian forest and bush country. Indeed, Akagera has one of the longest species lists for any conservation area in Africa: over 525 species have been recorded. There is accommodation at the very smart and recently rebuilt Akagera Game Lodge as well as a number of other hotels and camping possibilities less than one hour’s drive from the reserve.


A further component of Rwanda that is of particular interest to birders is the number of wetlands, which occupy almost 10% of the country. Three of these are IBAs and the main wetlands are: Akanyaru and Nyabarongo on the southern border with Burundi, Rugezi in the north near the Ugandan border, Mugesera-Rugwero in the south-east and Kagera along the eastern border with Tanzania. Little information exists as to how these wetlands can be visited.

Further information about the key species which can be found at these sites is contained in the introduction section and information about most of them can be found at BirdLife International.


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:11 -- abc_admin

Red-collared Babbler Kupeornis rufocinctus in the Nyungwe forest

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

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 Rwanda 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.

Some 666 species are known to occur in Rwanda of which 475 are presumed to be resident and 117 are regular seasonal migrants.

Endemic species

There are no endemic species in Rwanda.

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

Congo Bay Owl* Phodilus prigoginei
Albertine Owlet Glaucidium albertinum
Schouteden’s Swift* Schoutedenapus myoptilus
Red-collared Babbler Kupeornis rufocinctus
Rockefeller’s Sunbird* Cinnyris rockefelleri

* these species require confirmation in Rwanda.

Threatened species

Madagascar Pond Heron

Ardeola idae



Balaeniceps rex


Lappet-faced Vulture

Torgos tracheliotus


Lesser Kestrel

Falco naumanni


Congo Bay Owl*

Phodilus prigoginei


Albertine Owlet

Glaucidium albertinum


Kungwe Apalis**

Apalis argentea


Grauer's Swamp-Warbler

Bradypterus graueri


Papyrus Yellow Warbler

Chloropeta gracilirostris


Chapin's Flycatcher*

Muscicapa lendu


Rockefeller's Sunbird*

Nectarinia rockefelleri


Shelley's Crimsonwing

Cryptospiza shelleyi


* these species require confirmation in Rwanda.

** Note that this is considered to be a subspecies of Buff-throated Apalis Apalis rufogularis argentea by the African Bird Club.

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 Rwanda’s threatened species, see BirdLife International.

Important Bird Areas

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:10 -- abc_admin

Red-faced Barbet Lybius rubrifacies at Akagera National Park

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

There are no species endemic to Rwanda but the montane forests and associated habitats hold 25 of the 37 species of the Albertine Rift Endemic Bird Area (EBA). In addition, Red-faced Barbet Lybius rubrifacies is a restricted range species whose distribution defines the Dry woodlands west of Lake Victoria secondary EBA.

A small element of Guinea-Congo forests biome occurs at lower altitudes in forests in the west with 23 species of this biome known from Rwanda. Much of the rest of the country falls within the Lake Victoria basin biome and 11 of its 12 species occur. The montane forests of the Congo-Nile watershed hold at least 74 species of the Afrotropical Highlands biome.

Seven Important Bird Areas (IBAs) have been recognised by BirdLife International and these are as follows:-

Akagera National Park
Akanyaru wetlands
Cyamudongo forest
The paper on Nyungwe Forest mentioned below also contains an annexe on the Flora and Avifauna of Cyamudongo Forest.
Nyabarongo wetlands
Nyungwe forest
You can download a paper by DOWSETT, R.J. editor (1990) Survey of the Fauna and Flora of Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda. Tauraco Research Report No.3 from the Rwanda references page.
Rugezi Marsh
Volcans National Park

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


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