Rwanda

SUB-REGION
East Africa

SIZE
26,338 km²

BIRDS AND BIRDING

SPECIES
Diversity

Afrotropical avifauna
Approximately 690 recorded species

Shelley’s Crimsonwing (Bertin Murhabale)
Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo (Tasso Leventis)
Purple-breasted Sunbird (John Caddick)

Birds best found in Rwanda but occurring more widely (BT), including Albertine Rift endemics (ARE)
Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo
Albertine Owlet (ARE)
Neumann’s Warbler (ARE)
Kungwe Apalis (ARE)
Red-collared Babbler | Red-collared Mountain Babbler (ARE)
Ruaha Chat
Purple-breasted Sunbird (ARE)
Rockefeller’s Sunbird (ARE)
Papyrus Canary

Birds best found in two territories of the ABC region but occurring in more (B2), including more ARE
Handsome Spurfowl (ARE)
Rwenzori Turaco (ARE)
Red-faced Barbet
Dwarf Honeyguide (ARE)
Rwenzori Batis (ARE)
Doherty’s Bushshrike
Albertine Sooty Boubou | Albertine Boubou (ARE)
Willard’s Sooty Boubou (ARE)
Stripe-breasted Tit (ARE)
Red-faced Woodland Warbler (ARE)
Grauer’s Warbler (ARE)
Grauer’s Swamp Warbler (ARE)
Long-tailed Cisticola | Tabora Cisticola
Rwenzori Apalis (ARE)
Mountain Masked Apalis | Black-faced Apalis (ARE)
Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher (ARE)
Red-throated Alethe (ARE)
Archer’s Ground Robin | Archer’s Robin-Chat (ARE)
Blue-headed Sunbird (ARE)
Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird | Stuhlmann’s Sunbird (ARE)
Regal Sunbird (ARE)
Strange Weaver (ARE)
Dusky Crimsonwing (ARE)
Western Citril

Dwarf Honeyguide (Jacques Erard)
Regal Sunbird (Adam Riley)
Red-faced Barbet (John Caddick)
Kungwe Apalis (Bradley Hacker)

Guineo-Congolian endemics or near-endemics (G-C) occurring in Rwanda
[Hartlaub’s Duck]
Great Blue Turaco
Blue Malkoha
Afep Pigeon
[White-spotted Flufftail]
Red-chested Owlet
Fraser’s Eagle-Owl
Forest Wood Hoopoe
Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill
White-thighed Hornbill
Eastern Yellow-billed Barbet
Willcocks’s Honeyguide
Least Honeyguide
Buff-spotted Woodpecker
Elliot’s Woodpecker
[Grey Parrot]
Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye
Lühder’s Bushshrike
[Red-eyed Puffback]
Velvet-mantled Drongo
Dusky Tit
Slender-billed Greenbul
Yellow-whiskered Greenbul
Plain Greenbul
[Red-tailed Leaflove]
White-chinned Prinia
Black-faced Rufous Warbler
[Brown Illadopsis]
White-tailed Ant Thrush
[Little Green Sunbird]
Blue-throated Brown Sunbird
Olive-bellied Sunbird
Vieillot’s Black Weaver
White-breasted Nigrita

Proposed new species or splits not yet accepted by IOC, including ARE and G-C
Crawshay’s Francolin
Schuett’s Spurfowl
Cranch’s Spurfowl
Rwenzori Nightjar (B2)
Black-faced Go-away-bird
Eastern Black-billed Turaco | Green-rumped Turaco (G-C B2)
Grey-headed Barbet (G-C)
Northern Olive Woodpecker
Grey-headed Parrot
East African Pitta
Albertine Bushshrike (ARE B2)
Pale-throated Greenbul
African Reed Warbler
Rock-loving Cisticola
Rufous-crowned Cisticola
[Tawny-breasted Camaroptera (G-C)]
Albertine Hyliota (would-be endemic)
Kivu Ground Thrush (ARE B2)
[Yellow-breasted Forest Robin (G-C)]
Stuhlmann’s Weaver
Black-fronted Red Bishop
Black-chinned Quailfinch

Other taxa of interest (see also under Birding Sites)
White-backed Duck
African Pygmy Goose
Blue-billed Teal
African Black Duck
Yellow-billed Duck
Red-billed Teal
Southern Pochard
Common Quail
Fiery-necked Nightjar
Square-tailed Nightjar
Pennant-winged Nightjar
Scarce Swift
African Black Swift
Horus Swift
Ross’s Turaco
White-browed Coucal
African Olive Pigeon
Lemon Dove
Dusky Turtle Dove
Blue-spotted Wood Dove
African Rail
Lesser Moorhen
Long-toed Lapwing
African Wattled Lapwing
Lesser Jacana
African Snipe
Rufous-bellied Heron
Pink-backed Pelican
Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle
Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk
Mountain Buzzard
Augur Buzzard
Speckled Mousebird
Narina Trogon
Bar-tailed Trogon
White-headed Wood Hoopoe
Crowned Hornbill
Blue-breasted Bee-eater
Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater
Western Tinkerbird
Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird
Spot-flanked Barbet
Double-toothed Barbet
Scaly-throated Honeyguide
Red-throated Wryneck
Fine-banded Woodpecker
Cardinal Woodpecker
Red-headed Lovebird
African Broadbill
Chinspot Batis
Black-throated Wattle-eye
Brown-throated Wattle-eye
Many-colored Bushshrike
Pink-footed Puffback
Northern Puffback
Tropical Boubou
Grey Cuckooshrike
Petit’s Cuckooshrike
Mackinnon’s Shrike
Grey-backed Fiscal
Northern Fiscal
Mountain Oriole
Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher
White-necked Raven
White-tailed Blue Flycatcher
White-bellied Crested Flycatcher
White-tailed Crested Flycatcher
Rufous-naped Lark
Kakamega Greenbul
Olive-breasted Greenbul
Little Greenbul
Cabanis’s Greenbul
Yellow-streaked Greenbul
White-headed Saw-wing
Black Saw-wing
Red-throated Rock Martin
Angola Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
White-browed Crombec
Brown Woodland Warbler
African Yellow Warbler
Mountain Yellow Warbler
Evergreen Forest Warbler
Cinnamon Bracken Warbler
Singing Cisticola
Trilling Cisticola
Chubb’s Cisticola
Wing-snapping Cisticola
Black-faced Prinia
Black-throated Apalis
Chestnut-throated Apalis
Grey Apalis
Grey-capped Warbler
Rwenzori Hill Babbler
Green White-eye
Mountain Illadopsis
Arrow-marked Babbler
Grey-chested Babbler
Slender-billed Starling
Waller’s Starling
Stuhlmann’s Starling
Sharpe’s Starling
African Thrush
Abyssinian Thrush
Brown-backed Scrub Robin
Grey Tit-Flycatcher
Ashy Flycatcher
White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher
African Dusky Flycatcher
Brown-chested Alethe
White-bellied Robin-Chat
Cape Robin-Chat
White-browed Robin-Chat
Red-capped Robin-Chat
Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat
White-starred Robin
Equatorial Akalat
African Stonechat
Collared Sunbird
Green-headed Sunbird
Olive Sunbird
Scarlet-chested Sunbird
Bronzy Sunbird
Malachite Sunbird
Scarlet-tufted Sunbird
Northern Double-collared Sunbird
Variable Sunbird
Copper Sunbird
Northern Grey-headed Sparrow
Spectacled Weaver
Black-necked Weaver
Black-billed Weaver
Holub’s Golden Weaver
Dark-backed Weaver
Brown-capped Weaver
Black-winged Red Bishop
Yellow Bishop
Red-collared Widowbird
Yellow-bellied Waxbill
Green Twinspot
Shelley’s Crimsonwing (ARE)
Abyssinian Crimsonwing
Red-faced Crimsonwing
Grey-headed Nigrita
Black-crowned Waxbill
Kandt’s Waxbill
Fawn-breasted Waxbill
Crimson-rumped Waxbill
Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu
Red-headed Bluebill
Dusky Twinspot
Red-billed Firefinch
African Firefinch
Village Indigobird
Pin-tailed Whydah
Mountain Wagtail
Yellow-throated Longclaw
African Pipit
Long-billed Pipit
Plain-backed Pipit
Oriole Finch
Thick-billed Seedeater
Streaky Seedeater
Yellow-fronted Canary
Brimstone Canary
Yellow-crowned Canary
Golden-breasted Bunting

Grauer’s Warbler (John Caddick)
Red-throated Alethe (John Caddick)
Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird (Peter Hills)

MAIN HABITATS
Montane forests, swamps, savanna

BIRD AREAS
Albertine Rift mountains Endemic Bird Area
Dry woodlands west of Lake Victoria Secondary Area
7 Important Bird Areas

BIRDING SITES
Nyungwe National Park (NP) for Violet-backed (Albertine) Hyliota, Albertine Rift endemics including Lagden’s (Albertine) Bushshrike (centralis) and Abyssinian (Kivu) Ground Thrush (tanganjicae), Guineo-Congolian endemics or near-endemics including (Eastern) Black-billed Turaco (emini), and other montane forest species including Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo and Doherty’s Bushshrike
Rugezi Marsh, Nyabarongo Wetlands, Umusambi Village, Nyandungu Urban Wetland Ecotourism Park and Nyarutarama Lake for waterbirds, Papyrus Canary and other swamp taxa including Blue-headed Coucal, Red-chested Flufftail, Grey Crowned Crane, African Marsh Harrier, Marsh Tchagra, Papyrus Gonolek, Greater Swamp Warbler, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, White-winged Swamp Warbler, Highland Rush Warbler, Red-faced Cisticola, Winding Cisticola, Carruthers’s Cisticola, Black-lored Babbler, Swamp Flycatcher, Red-chested Sunbird, Thick-billed Weaver, Slender-billed Weaver, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Black-headed Weaver, Fan-tailed Widowbird, White-collared Oliveback and Cape Wagtail
Akagera NP for Shoebill, Red-faced Barbet, Long-tailed Cisticola and Ruaha Chat, other savanna species and waterbirds including Helmeted Guineafowl, [Crested Francolin,] Coqui Francolin, Ring-necked Francolin, Shelley’s Francolin, Hildebrandt’s Spurfowl, Swamp Nightjar, Eastern Plantain-eater, Purple-crested Turaco, Denham’s Bustard, Black Coucal, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Mourning Collared Dove, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Namaqua Dove, African Finfoot, Common Buttonquail, Water Thick-knee, [Spotted Thick-knee,] Spur-winged Lapwing, Senegal Lapwing, Crowned Lapwing, Brown-chested Lapwing, [Forbes’s Plover,] Caspian Plover, Greater Painted-snipe, Temminck’s Courser, Bronze-winged Courser, Collared Pratincole, Saddle-billed Stork, [White-backed Night Heron, Secretarybird,] Western Banded Snake Eagle, Pearl-spotted Owlet, African Scops Owl, Southern White-faced Owl, Marsh Owl, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Blue-naped Mousebird, Common Scimitarbill, Green Wood Hoopoe, [Southern Ground Hornbill,] African Grey Hornbill, Lilac-breasted Roller, Striped Kingfisher, Olive Bee-eater, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, [White-headed Barbet,] Black-collared Barbet, Crested Barbet, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Nubian Woodpecker, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Little Spotted Woodpecker, Bearded Woodpecker, Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, African Grey Woodpecker, Meyer’s Parrot, Black-backed Puffback, Slate-coloured Boubou, Black-headed Gonolek, Brubru, White-crested Helmetshrike, [White-breasted Cuckooshrike,] Souza’s Shrike, Black-headed Oriole, [Piapiac,] White-winged Black Tit, Grey Penduline Tit, Flappet Lark, Red-capped Lark, Grey-rumped Swallow, Banded Martin, Moustached Grass Warbler, Red-faced Crombec, Fan-tailed Grassbird, Buff-bellied Warbler, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Miombo Wren-Warbler, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, [Green-backed Eremomela,] Green-capped Eremomela, Hartlaub’s Babbler, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Wattled Starling, Greater Blue-eared Starling, Splendid Starling, Rüppell’s Starling, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Red-billed Oxpecker, White-browed Scrub Robin, Southern Black Flycatcher, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, [Collared Palm Thrush,] Grey-winged Robin-Chat, Miombo Rock Thrush, Mocking Cliff Chat, Sooty Chat, [Capped Wheatear, Green-throated Sunbird, Amethyst Sunbird,] Marico Sunbird, Purple-banded Sunbird, [Red-billed Buffalo Weaver,] Lesser Masked Weaver, Compact Weaver, Cardinal Quelea, Red-headed Quelea, White-winged Widowbird, Black-faced Waxbill, Green-winged Pytilia, Orange-winged Pytilia, Red-throated Twinspot, [Long-tailed Paradise Whydah,] Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, Cuckoo-finch, Striped Pipit, Short-tailed Pipit, Black-throated Canary, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting and Cabanis’s Bunting
Also Volcanoes NP and Gishwati-Mukura NP

TIMING (Jan, Jul–Aug)
Best in the dry season (Jun–Sep) when most birds breed
Dec–Feb is drier too, and Afro-Palearctic migrants are also present then
Avoid the main rains (Feb–May, Sep–Nov)

RESOURCES
Apps
Birds of Africa (iOS or Android)
eGuide to Birds of East Africa

Field guides
Birds of East Africa by Terry Stevenson & John Fanshawe (2020)

Site guides
Wild Rwanda: Where to Watch Birds, Primates, and Other Wildlife by Ken Behrens, Christian Boix & Keith Barnes with contributions from Jason Anderson & Claver Ntoyinkima (2015)
Birding Rwanda: in Search of Red-collared Babbler, Albertine Rift Endemics and More by Callan Cohen, Peter Ryan, Marcell Claasen & Claver Ntoyinkima (2010)

Further reading
Birds in Rwanda: an Atlas and Handbook by Jean P Vande weghe & Gaël R Vande weghe (2011)
Birds of Rwanda: a Checklist by Gaël R Vande weghe (2018)
Rwanda by Samuel Kanyamibwa in Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority Sites for Conservation edited by Lincoln D C Fishpool & Michael I Evans (2001)
Enquête Faunistique et Floristique dans la Forêt de Nyungwe, Rwanda/Survey of the Fauna and Flora of Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda edited by Robert J Dowsett (1990)
Articles in Scopus, Bull. ABC, Malimbus, Le Nectar (ACNR newsletter), etc.

Websites
The Rwanda Biodiversity Information System (RBIS) takes bird observation records that are stored in a variety of sources and formats and puts them into a standardized format on a viewing platform for stakeholders to access and use the information
Birding & Educational Tours Rwanda

Blogs
Rwanda Dreaming – 10,000 Birds by Dragan Simic (2018)
Birding in Rwanda by Marcell Claasen (2009-2013)
Rwanda on the Wing by Jared Cole (2011-2013)
The Beginner’s Guide to Birding in Akagera by Leigh Woods (2017)

Facebook groups
Rwanda Birding Club is a group for posting pictures of Rwandan birds and discussing aspects of birding in Rwanda

ORGANISATIONS

Nature Rwanda is the BirdLife Partner in Rwanda

The East African Rarities Committee assesses records of new and very rare birds occurring in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi

Other bird or conservation organisations active in Rwanda include –
Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association (RWCA)
Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (ACNR)
Rwanda Women Birders
Rwanda Youth Birders (RYB)
CEDINYA (formerly Inyange Club) 
Association Rwandaise des Ecologistes (ARECO)
Rwanda Environmental Conservation Organization (RECOR)
Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS)
African Parks: Akagera National Park and Nyungwe National Park
African Community & Conservation Foundation (ACCF)
Planet Birdsong
Fauna & Flora International (FFI)
WCS Rwanda

The ALU School of Wildlife Conservation in Kigali is the first of its kind in Africa, dedicated to growing the next generation of world-class conservation leaders on the continent

Shopping Cart
Skip to content