The bird space in Uganda is as diversely captivating as the stars in the sky with over 1080 known bird species found in numerous parts of Uganda. Birders all over the world are always astonished and delighted with how much adventure is in Uganda’s bird safari. Here is a list of the top ten must see birds on your bird safari in Uganda.
The Ostrich (struthio camelus)
The ostrich is the largest flightless bird, resident only in Kidepo Valley National park, in the northeastern region. A fully-grown ostrich can weigh up to 180 kgs with a height of 2.5 meters and run as fast as 70 kilometers. The males are usually black and white while the females are brownish. Female can lay up to 25-30 eggs which hatch over six weeks. Four days after hatching, the chicks leave their nest to other chicks to form crèches of over 100 chicks.
Ostriches graze in groups called a flock and feed on locusts, fruits, flowers, seeds, and sand pebbles.
The shoebill (balaeniceps rex)
The seemingly sluggish shoebill is aptly named after its foot long bill, which is shoe- shaped. The bird is one of the most identifiable bird species due to its huge bill, a weight of 11 pounds (females) and 12 pounds (males) and an eight-foot wing span.
The shoebill is feeds on snakes, frogs, lungfish and many more. It reaches maturity at about three years, and seeks out the opposite sex for mating. A female lays two eggs, which are incubated in turns; by the female, during daytime, and the male by nighttime. Incubation lasts a month and both parents raise chicks.
Tourists can see the bird in many parks like Queen Elizaberth National park, Murchison falls national park, lake Mburo national park among others.
The grey crowned crane(balearica regulorum)
The grey crowned crane is Uganda’s national bird, thus highly treasured and protected by law, given that it is classified as endangered by the IUCN. The bird has wing span of two feet a body weight of 3.5 kgs and a height of 1 meter, when fully crown.
Its diet is composed of both plants and animals like lizards, fish, thus being omnivores. A mature female can lay between 2-5 five eggs which are hatched over 28-31 days. The chicks are able to run out as soon as they are hatched.
The gentle and graceful bird thrives in majorly swampy areas and can be seen in major national parks like Murchison fall national park, Lake Mburo national park, Queen Elizaberth National park and may more.
The horn bill( Bucerotidae)
The horn bill has atleast 17 species, like the Abyssian ground horn bill, African horn bill among others, however their distinctive feature is the stretched down ward curved bill that varies slightly in size depending on the species.
The birds are omnivores and are found in almost all major national parks like the Murchison falls national park, Budongo forest reserve, semuliki national park among others.
The fish eagles (haliaeetus)
The fish eagle, black and white in colour, derives its name from its diet of fish. The bird largely depends on fish such that it can scavenge for dead fish or snatch fish from other birds in times of scarcity. A fully-grown fish eagle may reach a height of 73cm however; males are slightly bigger than females. The birds are highly social to the extent that females respond to male calls and fly together. Its spectacular fishing skill of diving into water to catch fish as heavy as 10 kgs is what makes it worth watching while on a safari.
The fish eagle is common around the Mabamba wetland, west of Entebbe International Airport.
The blue Toraco (corythaeola cristata)
As the name suggests, the bird is brilliantly colored in blue, adults turn turquoise blue, with yellow and red beaks. The fruit and plantain loving species is common in forested areas where it gracefully hopes from one tree to another without flying over long distances. It has an interesting call, which sounds like a repetitive ‘cow’
The bird’s graceful nature and style of movement is what makes it join the list of Uganda’s top ten birds.
The standard – Winged Nightjar. (caprimulgus longioennis)
This majorly brown dotted bird is unique for its center flight feathers, which stretch out, 38cm long, during the mating season like a spear with a feathered tip.
Green- breasted Pitta ( Pitta reichenowi )
The beautifully coloured little bird is very rare to find, but once seen, it is a dream come true to photograph. They are small tropical birds found in the Bwindi impenetrable forest and their diet consists of majorly insects.
Shelley’s Crimsonwing (cryptospiza shelleyi)
The little red head, short black bill, and brown-bodied birds have suffered a sharp decline in population due to encroachment on its natural habitat. It is common in lowland or high moist forests like Rwenzori national park.
Its sheer daunting beauty is the major reason why bird lovers seek after it.
Doherty’s Bushrike ( Telophorus dohertyi)
The doherty’s bushrike is often heard than seen in its high altitude forest habitats. The whistling mischievous bird, in adult males, is mostly green with a bright red forehead, and throat, while the tail is black. The young ones are usually pale green. Their diet is a blend of insects like beetles, grasshoppers, among others, much of which is found on the ground. Therefore, one is most likely to see it on the forest ground than tree canopies.
Bird lovers can catch a rare glimpse of this bird in the Bwindi impenetrable forest.