Top 10 birds in Mgahinga ” Mgahinga gorilla national park is located in South western Uganda at the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Park, gazetted in 1991 is the country’s smallest park with an area of 33.7 square kilometers. Originally, it was gazetted to protect the mountain gorillas that live in the forest but Mgahinga National Park protects more than just the endangered species.
Mgahinga was once home to the Batwa who now act of tour guides for visitors into the forest. The forest is also the sole home of golden monkeys in the country. In addition, its most attractive features are the three of the five Virunga mountains that border Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Regarding wildlife, Mgahinga National Park holds 76 species of mammals for example the giant forest fogs, bush pigs among others and between 179-184 species of birds. The top birds include the dusky turtle dove, cape robin chat, brown crowned tchagra, strange weaver, cinnamon bracken warbler, cinnamon chested bee eater, scarlet tufted malachite sunbird, lagden’s bushshrike, buff-spotted flufftail and the white starred robin thus Top 10 birds in Mgahinga.
Dusky turtle dove
As its name goes, this dove is dusky with a black spot on neck. It has reddish legs and feather edges when seen properly as well as gray corners on the tail. Both the male and female doves produce lumpy and pale yellow called crop milk to feed their young ones after hatching.
Cape Robin chat
The cape robin chat is 16-17 cm long with a weight of up to 28g. it is characterized by greyupper parts with brownish olive secondary feathers. Orange covers a great deal of the chin, throat, central breast and the outer tail feathers. The central tail feathers are rusty and the belly is pale grey. The bird sings beautifully, just like other robin chats in a harsh but low alarm call sounding as ‘’wadeda.’’
Nesting for these birds is monogamous and territorial, usually in pairs. The nest is usually 0-2 feet from the ground against a tree trunk usually. Nesting is usually done in August through January. Females lay two to three eggs in a day and are incubated for 14-19 days thus Top 10 birds in Mgahinga.
Brown crowned tchagra
The brown crowned tchagra or the tchagra australis is famous for have a brown crown hence its name. it also has a grey brown bushshrike, reddish wings and a rather bold pale eyebrow. They make a ‘’prrp’’ sound with their wings and skulk next to the ground feeding on insects.
Cinnamon Bracken warbler
The bird’s color is rufous, like cinnamon. It has a long tail, white throat and a pale eye-line. Like most shy birds, the cinnamon bracken warbler prefers privacy in the undergrowth of bracken, dense scrub, heath or forest edge. It produces a ‘’tree-aat’’ kind of song.
Scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird
This is a large sunbird with male tails measuring up to 20 cm. they have black heads with dark green upper bodies which appear black from a far. The tail and wings are black, underparts green with the female having brownish grey upperparts, dark brown tail and brownish black wings. The birds usually nest in thick dead lobelia leaves and breed between late November and early January.
White starred robin
It has “white stars” at the front of the eyes and on it’s throat. The white starred robin is a rather small bird growing only up to 15-16 cm in length and a weight of 18-25g. The feathers of it’s head are bluish-grey, a part of the wings green and the rest dark grey. The tail is black with yellow stripes, the legs are pink and the breasts are also yellow.
The starred robin feeds exclusively on fruits and insects with an emphasis on beetles, moths and ants. Some fruits include canthium, ficus and rhus among others. When nesting, the females alone build out of dead leaves, rootlets, tendrils and moss lined with fine plant material. The nest is usually against a trunk or rock and takes 7 days to construct.
Buff-spotted fluff tail
This particular fluff tail is very shy and is rarely seen unless really looked for. The male’s back is black while the female is plain and brown. The female and male both have stripped tails. The buff-spotted fluff tail is mainly found in the undergrowth of the forest.
The lagden’s bushshrike is a heavy bird, 23cm long with a stocky blackbill. Its upper parts including the wings and tail are green with yellow underparts and orange breasts. The lagden’s bushshrike song is described as “hoop hoop.” The bird lives in the under and midstory of the tropical forests thus Top 10 birds in Mgahinga.
It is characterized with a black head, dark olive back and a yellow belly. The male has a chestnut patch on the breast that extends to the throat in females. The strange weaver is usually found in the undergrowth of the forest and they move usually in pairs. Their call is described as “chyet” notes.
Cinnamon chested bee eater.
This bird has a cinnamon colored breast darkening towards the belly, bright green upper parts and tail and a yellow chin and throat. It grows up to 22cm in length with weight between 17-38g. The bird feeds on flying insects with emphasis on bees and wasps, removing their venom by hitting them hard before consumption. Their nests are built by both female and male, in burrows dug into the ground, for 20 days. The female then lays 5 eggs, one each day and incubation commences immediately the first egg is laid. Incubation is done by both sexes, lasting for 20 days.
Other birds in Mgahinga include: black head waxbill, streaky seed eater, Chubb’s cisticola, nrina trogon, archer’s robin chat and many more. Birding in Mgahinga is free of charge from 5-6pm as long as you book by 10am in the morning. The activity is done all year round but the best months are March-May and September to November during the wet and breeding season.