East Africa

26,338 km²



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 (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 (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 (ARE)
Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher (ARE)
Red-throated Alethe (ARE)
Archer’s Ground Robin (ARE)
Blue-headed Sunbird (ARE)
Rwenzori Double-collared 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)

Proposed new species or splits not yet accepted by IOC
Crawshay’s Francolin
Schuett’s Spurfowl
Cranch’s Spurfowl
Rwenzori Nightjar (B2)
Black-faced Go-away-bird
Eastern Black-billed Turaco (B2)
Grey-headed Barbet
Eastern Yellow-billed Barbet
Northern Olive Woodpecker
Grey-headed Parrot
East African Pitta
Albertine Bushshrike (B2)
Pale-throated Greenbul
African Reed Warbler
Rufous-crowned Cisticola
Albertine Hyliota (would-be endemic)
Kivu Ground Thrush (B2)
Stuhlmann’s Weaver
Black-fronted Red Bishop
Black-chinned Quailfinch

Other taxa of interest (see also under Birding Sites)
White-backed Duck
African Black Duck
Square-tailed Nightjar
Pennant-winged Nightjar
Scarce Swift
African Black Swift
Great Blue Turaco
Ross’s Turaco
Blue-headed Coucal
White-browed Coucal
Blue Malkoha
Afep Pigeon
African Olive Pigeon
Dusky Turtle Dove
Red-chested Flufftail
African Rail
Lesser Moorhen
Grey Crowned Crane
Long-toed Lapwing
Lesser Jacana
African Snipe
Rufous-bellied Heron
Pink-backed Pelican
Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle
Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk
African Marsh Harrier
Mountain Buzzard
Augur Buzzard
Red-chested Owlet
Fraser’s Eagle-Owl
Bar-tailed Trogon
Forest Wood Hoopoe
White-headed Wood Hoopoe
Crowned Hornbill
Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill
Blue-breasted Bee-eater
Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater
Western Tinkerbird
Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird
Spot-flanked Barbet
Double-toothed Barbet
Willcocks’s Honeyguide
Least Honeyguide
Scaly-throated Honeyguide
Red-throated Wryneck
Fine-banded Woodpecker
Elliot’s Woodpecker
Red-headed Lovebird
Chinspot Batis
Black-throated Wattle-eye
Brown-throated Wattle-eye
Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye
Many-colored Bushshrike
Marsh Tchagra
Pink-footed Puffback
Northern Puffback
Lühder’s Bushshrike
Papyrus Gonolek
Grey Cuckooshrike
Petit’s Cuckooshrike
Mackinnon’s Shrike
Grey-backed Fiscal
Mountain Oriole
Velvet-mantled Drongo
Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher
White-necked Raven
White-tailed Blue Flycatcher
White-bellied Crested Flycatcher
White-tailed Crested Flycatcher
Dusky Tit
Kakamega Greenbul
Olive-breasted Greenbul
Plain Greenbul
Cabanis’s Greenbul
Yellow-streaked Greenbul
White-headed Saw-wing
Angola Swallow
White-browed Crombec
Brown Woodland Warbler
Greater Swamp Warbler
Lesser Swamp Warbler
Mountain Yellow Warbler
Papyrus Yellow Warbler
Evergreen Forest Warbler
Cinnamon Bracken Warbler
White-winged Swamp Warbler
Highland Rush Warbler
Trilling Cisticola
Chubb’s Cisticola
Carruthers’s Cisticola
Wing-snapping Cisticola
Black-faced Prinia
White-chinned Prinia
Black-throated Apalis
Chestnut-throated Apalis
Grey Apalis
Grey-capped Warbler
Black-faced Rufous Warbler
Rwenzori Hill Babbler
Green White-eye
Mountain Illadopsis
Arrow-marked Babbler
Black-lored Babbler
Grey-chested Babbler
Rüppell’s Starling
Slender-billed Starling
Waller’s Starling
Stuhlmann’s Starling
Sharpe’s Starling
White-tailed Ant Thrush
Abyssinian Thrush
Brown-backed Scrub Robin
Grey Tit-Flycatcher
White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher
Swamp 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
Blue-throated Brown Sunbird
Bronzy Sunbird
Malachite Sunbird
Scarlet-tufted Sunbird
Northern Double-collared Sunbird
Red-chested Sunbird
Slender-billed Weaver
Spectacled Weaver
Black-necked Weaver
Black-billed Weaver
Holub’s Golden Weaver
Northern Brown-throated Weaver
Vieillot’s Black Weaver
Dark-backed Weaver
Brown-capped Weaver
Yellow Bishop
Fan-tailed Widowbird
White-collared Oliveback
Yellow-bellied Waxbill
Green Twinspot
Shelley’s Crimsonwing (ARE)
Abyssinian Crimsonwing
Red-faced Crimsonwing
White-breasted Nigrita
Grey-headed Nigrita
Black-crowned Waxbill
Kandt’s Waxbill
Fawn-breasted Waxbill
Crimson-rumped Waxbill
Red-headed Bluebill
Dusky Twinspot
Cape Wagtail
Long-billed Pipit
Oriole Finch
Thick-billed Seedeater
Streaky Seedeater
Yellow-crowned Canary

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

Montane forests, swamps, savanna

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

Nyungwe National Park (NP) for Albertine Rift endemics and other montane forest species including Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo and Doherty’s Bushshrike
Rugezi Marsh and Nyabarongo Wetlands for Papyrus Canary and other swamp species
Akagera NP for Shoebill, Red-faced Barbet, Long-tailed Cisticola and Ruaha Chat, other savanna species and waterbirds including Ring-necked Francolin, Shelley’s Francolin, Hildebrandt’s Spurfowl, Swamp Nightjar, Eastern Plantain-eater, Purple-crested Turaco, Black Coucal, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Mourning Collared Dove, African Finfoot, Senegal Lapwing, Crowned Lapwing, Brown-chested Lapwing, Collared Pratincole, Saddle-billed Stork, Dwarf Bittern, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Marsh Owl, Southern White-faced Owl, Blue-naped Mousebird, Common Scimitarbill, Lilac-breasted Roller, 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, African Grey Woodpecker, Meyer’s Parrot, Black-backed Puffback, Slate-coloured Boubou, Black-headed Gonolek, Souza’s Shrike, Black-headed Oriole, White-winged Black Tit, Grey Penduline Tit, Flappet Lark, Red-capped Lark, Banded Martin, Grey-rumped Swallow, Red-faced Crombec, Rock-loving Cisticola, Buff-bellied Warbler, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Miombo Wren-Warbler, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Green-capped Eremomela, Splendid Starling, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Red-billed Oxpecker, Southern Black Flycatcher, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Grey-winged Robin-Chat, Sooty Chat, Marico Sunbird, Purple-banded Sunbird, Lesser Masked Weaver, Compact Weaver, Cardinal Quelea, White-winged Widowbird, Black-faced Waxbill, Red-throated Twinspot, Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, Striped Pipit, Short-tailed Pipit, Black-throated Canary, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting and Cabanis’s Bunting
Also Volcanoes NP, Gishwati-Mukura NP and Umusambi Village

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)

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.

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

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


There is currently no 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

Bird or conservation organisations active in Rwanda include –
Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association (RWCA)
Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (ACNR)
Nature Rwanda
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

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