Nyungwe Forest – A Refuge for Rare Birds:
Nyungwe is classified by BirdLife International as an “Important Bird Area” (IBA), which means that the park has “true significance” for the international conservation of bird populations…”
In their fact sheet, they say that Nyungwe is one of the most important forests for conservation of montane birds in the region.
A birder’s paradise, Nyungwe is home to 278 species of birds—26 of those are found only in the few forests of the Albertine Rift.
Grauer’s Rush Warbler is an Albertine Rift endemic that thrives in isolated mountain swamps, such as Kamiranzovou.
Turacos such as this Ruwenzori Turaco are rare elsewhere but abundant in Nyungwe. You are likely to hear their loud repetitive call resonate in the forest.
Spectacular and rare sunbirds, such as the endemic Purple-breasted and Blue-headed can be seen feeding in flowering trees.
The Black and white casqued Hornbill, one of two hornbill species in the park, is known by its huge bill and honking call.
This park is the most important ornithological site in Rwanda. It is increasingly being sought out for the incredible birding opportunities, particularly the numerous albertine rift endemics; the highest concentration found n any single park in Africa. There are more than 240 tree species, more than 140 colorful orchids, 1050 plant types, such as the giant lobelia. Of these plants 250 are albertine rift endemics. Mount bigugu is the highest mountain in the park, reaching an altitude of 2950m. Also with in the park, is the most remote source of the Nile.
Great Blue Turaco – Corythaeola cristata
Ruwenzori Turaco – Tauraco johnstoni
Black-billed Turaco – Tauraco schuetti
Ross’s Turaco – Musophago rossae
Black and White Casqued Hornbill – Bycanistes subcylindricus
Crowned Hornbill – Tockus alboterminatus
Crowned Eagle – Stephanoaetus coronatus
Forest Buzzard – Buteo oreophilus
Handsome Francolin – Francolinus nobilis
Olive Pigeon – Columba arquatrix
Cinnamon-breasted Bee-eater – Merops oreobates
White-headed Wood Hoopoes – Phoeniculus bollei
Blue-Headed Sunbird – Nectarinia regia
Stuhlmann’s Sunbird – Nectarinia afra stuhlmanni
Black-headed Waxbill – Estrilda atricapilla
Olive Thrush – Turdus olivaceus
Slender-billed Chestnut Wing Starling – Onychognathus tenuirostris theresae
White-necked Raven – Corvus albicollis
African Saw-wing – Psalidoprocne pristoptera
Mountain Wagtail – Motacilla clara
Cape Wagtail – Motacilla capensis
Red-throated Alethe – Alehe poliophrys
White-starred Robin – Pogonocichla stellata
Equatorial Akalata – Sheppardia aequatorialis
Albertine Rift Endemic Bird Species of Nyungwe Forest National
Located in the Albertine Rift of the African Rift valley, Nyungwe is home many special bird species which can only be found here. Some of these species are endemic to the montane forests of the Congo-Nile divide and can therefore only be found in either Gishwati Forest, Mukura Forest or Nyungwe Forest.
The strange weaver is an Albertine-Rift commonly found in Gishwati Mukura Forests. It is yellow with a slightly olive-yellow toned back. The wings are less distinctly black than other weaver species which have a more olive-brown tone. The head is black and flows down to a chestnut throat in males. The strange weavers are endemic to these montane forests where they can be found in groups throughout the undergrowth and bush.
This sunbird has a long tail and perhaps the most beautiful colorations of any sunbird. During the mating season the male turns into a lush bronze, violet, copper, purple, red, blue and green. The head turns into a copper purple and the lower body a deep blue. The Purple-Breasted sunbird can be found in the middle and upper canopy where it normally feeds of flowering trees.
Purple breasted Sunbird
This large bird has an olive belly and a distinct orange breast. The wings are brown with two distinct white bars. The eyes are black with a white ring. The top of the bird is dark brown which extends down the tail. This bird is shy and can be seen hopping on the ground in the undergrowth I search of insects or singing from a perch in a tree.
Small owlet with a large head with white spots and no ear tufts. The tail is long with large white spots. Nyungwe Forest is the only place where it is found outside Democratic Republic of Congo.
Also known as Archer’s ground-chat. This is a typical robin with orange chest. The tail is entirely orange. A small white streak above the eye fades to the back of the head. Top of the head is brown. Found in protected high elevation forests in Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and Western Uganda.
This small, shy bird is olive green and light brown with a black head and a white patch on the side of the neck. It is easily distinguished from other Apalis species by the black head. This bird can only be found in thick forests at high elevation of more than 1500m where it is mostly found in the middle growth and canopy.
Mountain Masked Apalis
Very unique looking sunbird. Back is dark olive grey, underside lighter grey. The face and sometimes neck is dark shiny blue. Found throughout the Albertine Rift with most sightings in Nyungwe Forest.
Small brownish grey flycatcher. Not entirely an Albertine Rift Endemic as it is also found in the highlands around Kisumu in Western Kenya.
Found in mountain forests throughout the Albertine Rift, this small cisticola is sometimes mistaken for the black-banded apalis which is not an Albertine endemic. It is small with an orange belly divided by a white diffuse band in the middle and a grey ring on the chest. The back, tail and top of head is brownish grey.
Small brown bird with red patches on sides, back and face. Common in forest edges.
This honey is only found on both sides of the Albertine Rift in DRC, Uganda and Rwanda. Its normal habitat is montane forest between 1500 and2400 m. The abdomen is greyish brown with greenish to orange back. Side tailfeathers are whitish or lighter than rest of tail.
Grauer’s Swamp Warbler
Dark-olive bird with lighter and slightly banded belly. This is endemic to high elevated forests of the Albertine rift where it can be found above 1600m. This elusive bird can usually be found in thick undergrowth where it is hard to spot and well camouflaged.
Not to be confused with Grauer’s swamp warbler. Even though similar Grauser’s warbler does not have a white chest with speckles and is greener in color. It is found in thick forest thickets rather than reeds throughout montane forests of the Albertine Rift.
Large ground-dwelling francolin which is easily distinguished by the red skin around the eyes. This bird can be found on the ground of Gishwati and Mukura Forests where it normally patrols in pairs or larger family groups.
Kivu Ground Thrush
Also known as the Abyssinian ground Thrush, this thrush can be found mostly on the eastern side of the Albertine Rift in Rwanda and Uganda. It is a typical thrush with bright orange head and breast, white circles around the large eyes and brown wings with a white streak and a short tail. Normally found feeding on ground and residing on branches of larger trees when singing.
Mountain masked apalis
This small stocky bird is also known as the black faced apalis due to its black head. The head is balck with white flecks on the neck and an olive green body and short tail. Found throughout the Albertine Rift in montane forests above 2000 m.
Mountain Masked Apalis
Also known as the short-tailed warbler. This species is native to DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. The head is distinctly large, and the tail is almost entirely missing. Body is olive green and the head black with a distinct white stripe.
Red-faced woodland warbler
Small light brown-grey warbler with a greenish back and light orange face. There is a western and eastern sub species recognized. The eastern variation can be found in Nyungwe Forest.
This bird can be found throughout montane forests from Burundi, Rwanda DRC and Uganda. It is robin like bird with orange back and wings, bluish black head and a light grey abdomen. It can easily be distinguished by its red throat.
Red throated alethe
Wonderfully colored sunbird with an emerald green head, bright yellow and red underside, purple and red chest and purple tail. One of the most common birds on visitor’s to Nyungwe’s wish list.
This colorful sunbird has its largest range in Democratic Republic of Congo and little research has been carried out on it. Only isolated sights have been made in Nyungwe Forest and Burundi. Its range is montane forests above 2000 m and African alpine moorland. The sunbird is Iridescent green with a blue head. The tail and back are blue. Wings dark grey.
Typical black and white batis. Easily distinguished by the black band around the chest. Found in thick shrubs and dense mid vegetation above 2000 m in Rwanda, DRC, Burundi and Uganda.
This is one of the most iconic of the Albertine Rift endemics. It can be found throughout the remaining montane forests of the Congo-Nile divide along Lake Kivu. It is a rather large bird with super colours of green, red and blue. Can be found in large groups who swoop through the forest canopy.
Very unique finch and one of the rarest in Africa. Yellow to olive green chest, red back and head. Wings and tail black. Only a few recorder observations.
Dark grey with a darker, black head. Black and white bands on wings. Found in montane forests mostly on the eastern Albertine rift but also in some places in DRC.
Yellow-eyed black flycatcher
Large, totally black flycatcher with yellow eyes and rather long tail. This species is often found in clearings and forest edges where it has sufficient room to catch flying insects. Quite abundant from Burundi, Rwanda, DRC to Western Uganda.