Birding in Kigali City – Birding spots and birds around Kigali City

Kigali City is the capital of Rwanda and is also the entry point when flying into Rwanda via Kigali International Airport. For the keen birder Kigali which ranks among the greenest cities in Africa offers wonderful birding in Rwanda.

For birders planning a long birding itinerary in Rwanda, a day or two should be dedicated to birding in Kigali before heading off to the IBAs, first as an introduction to the local birds but secondly there are specialities you will spot in Kigali and may not see again on the trip. While for birders & enthusiasts on business visits in Kigali that have a day or half to spare and would like some nice birding in Rwanda before flying out know that Kigali is sufficient for you to tick off a number of local birds and perhaps get a good number of lifers too.

Kigali City has a number of good birding spots you can visit and you can explore a variety of habitats ranging from wetlands, lake/swamp, grasslands, woodlands, forest, garden.

Many other wetlands in Kigali that were reclaimed for settlement, agriculture, and other activities have been repossessed by the government and are being turned into protected green spaces and nature reserves that will be birding havens within Kigali. In fact, Kigali in couple of years will be birding haven

The impeccable organization and cleanliness of the city, safety, easy accessibility of sites & neat trails makes birding in Kigali City very enjoyable.

Birding Spots in the Kigali City

Umusambi Village Nature Reserve – Grey Crowned Crane Conservation Center

Umusambi Village, a new birding hotspot & arguably the number one in the city, is the first established wildlife reserve in Kigali, purposely established to rehabilitate and give a home to rescued Grey Crowned Cranes in Rwanda. It is located on the edge of Kigali City along the way to east of the country. Established on restored wetland, the reserve with a range of habitats such as swamp, grassland, bush and woodland hosts more than 100 species of birds. What makes Umusambi wetland even more wonderful for birding it a very neat trail network reaching the different parts of the reserve and offering access to the different habitats. One of the specials to look out for is the White-collared Oliveback as the reserve offers may be the best sightings in Rwanda. Other species to look forward to include Trilling Cisticola, Purple-crested Turaco, Lesser Honeyguide, Black-shouldered Nightjar, Green-winged Pytilia, African Firefinch, Olive Woodpecker, Yellow-breasted Apalis, etc… Read more about Umusambi Village here

Nyarutarama Lake

A convenient birding spot in within Kigali, Nyarutarama Lake, located near the Kigali Golf Course, has paths around it which offer excellent birdwatching at the lake, providing a good count of water species. Some of the birds you will see here include: Yellow-billed Duck, Squacco Heron, White-faced Whistling Duck, Hottentot Teal, Red-billed Teal, African Spoonbill, Spur-winged Geese, Little Grebe, Common Moorhen, Hadada Ibis, Black Crake, Black Egret, Cater Egret, and Black-headed Heron among others. The vegetation on the fringes of the lake provides many birds such as Black Kite, African Fish Eagle, Pygmy Kingfisher, White-browed Coucal, Grey-capped Warbler, Winding Cisticola, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Paradise Flycatcher, African Hobby, Swamp Flycatcher, etc… A little further to the east of the lake is acacia woodlands that will add to your list with some raptors such as the Mountain Buzzard, and several smaller birds such as Swifts, Martin, Swallow, Sunbirds, etc…

The Nyabarongo Weltands

The Nyabarongo Weltands offer good birdwatching. The Nyabarongo wetlands can be approached from many points and a walk along the edges will provide many water birds like Spur-winged Geese, Great White Egret, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Squacco Heron, African Openbill, Yellow-billed Stork, Grey Heron, Black-headed Heron, Great Swamp Warbler, White-winged Warbler, Long-toed Lapwing, Yellow Wagtail, Common Snipe, African Marsh Harrier, African Jacana, Papyrus Gonolek, Black-headed Gonolek, Goliath Heron…

Mount Kigali, Forest

Mount Kigali which is the largest hill in the vicinity of Kigali City has a forest atop which is a worthy birding spot and some of the birds you can find include: African Paradise Flycatcher, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Southern Black Flycatcher, Red-chested Cuckoo, Green-backed Camaroptera, Thick-billed Seedeater, Tropical Boubou, Northern Puffback, Common Bulbul, Bronze Mannikin, Yellow-fronted Canary, etc…

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