Albertine Rift Endemic (ARE) species only exists in the mountain forests (above aproximately 1,700 m) in eastern DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, and south-east Uganda. Between 26 and 29 ARE bird species exists in Rwanda and all are present in Nyungwe National Park, most also in the forests of the Volcanoes and the smaller blocks of Gishwati, Mukura and Busaga.
The jury is still out whether, the Ruwenzori Nightjar, the Kivu Ground-Thrush and the Willard’s Boubou, all three present in Rwanda, are just local forms of wider afrotropical mountain birds or real Albertine Rift Endemics.
24 are very common to common, never fully guaranteed but still relatively easy to see at the right seasons. Two species, the Kivu Ground-Thrush and the Dwarf Honeyguide requires a bit of luck. A third species, the Albertine Owlet, is probably more common than observed, but like most forest owls, is not an easy bird. The Rockefeller’s Sunbird and the Shelley’s Crimonswing are the rarest, most difficult to find. Shelley’s Crimsonwing was last seen in Nyungwe in 2012 but more recently in the Volcanoes.
At last, our unicorn, the Congo Bay Owl, remains to be absolutely confirmed despites a few highly probable records, in both Nyungwe and the contiguous Kibira forest in Burundi.
Handsome Francolin | Pternistis nobilis
Common, particularly at dawn and dusk.
Rwenzori Turaco | Gallirex johnstoni
Common in all forest blocks, easy to see around Uwinka.
Albertine Boubou | Laniarius holomelas
Common but shy, above 2,200 m.
Willard’s Boubou | Laniarius willardi
Common in the lower parts of Nyungwe.
Rwenzori Batis | Batis diops
Particularly common above 2,200
Stripe-breasted Tit | Melaniparus fasciiventer
Common in small groups.
Grauer’s Warbler | Graueria vittata
Most commonly heard than seen, but often in dark entangled columns of lianas.
Neumann’s Warbler | Hemitesia neumanni
Very common and heard a lot but particularly difficult to see well.
Red-faced Woodland-warbler | Phylloscopus laetus
Grauer’s Swamp-warbler | Bradypterus graueri
Common in high altitude wetlands.
Rwenzori Apalis | Oreolais ruwenzorii
Kungwe Apalis | Apalis argentea picture by Kyle Kittleberger
Relatively common in Nyungwe.
Black-faced Apalis | Apalis personata
Red-collared Babbler | Kupeornis rufocinctus
Relatively common but in low density in Nyungwe
Kivu Ground-Thrush | Geokichla tanganjicae
Rare and unpredictable, but frequently seen around Kamiranzovu and the lower parts of Nyungwe.
Yellow-eyed Black-flycatcher | Melaenornis ardesiacus
Common below 2,200 m.
Archer’s Robin-chat | Dessonornis archeri
Common throughout, and one of the typical sound of the mountains.
Red-throated Alethe | Chamaethylas poliophrys
Common in Nyungwe.
Blue-headed Sunbird | Cyanomitra alinae
Common but a shy sunbird.
Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird | Cinnyris stuhlmanni
Common above 2,200 m and particularly abundant above 2,500 m
Regal Sunbird | Cinnyris regius
Purple-breasted Sunbird | Nectarinia purpureiventris
Common on large flowering Symphonia trees. Absent from the volcanoes.
Strange Weaver | Textor alienus
Common in single or pairs but in relatively low density throughout.
Dusky Crimsonwing | Cryptospiza jacksoni
Common in pairs, in all 4 forest blocks in Rwanda. Particularly common in Nyungwe.