10 Must see birds on a Uganda birding safari
Uganda prides in over 1,078 species of birds, about 50% of Africa’s bird species and 11% of the world’s a characteristic that has made Uganda birding safaris on the top bucket list of many avid birders. The varied number of bird species means many birds in every kilometer compared to other countries in Africa. Uganda has one endemic bird known as the Fox’s Weaver and 24 Albertine rift endemics. When birders come for a bird watching tour in Uganda, they actually search for several bird species but here is a list of 10 Must see birds on a Uganda birding safari
Shoebill stork (Balaeniceps rex)
The shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) is a very large stork-like bird that has previously been classified with the storks in the order Ciconiiformes based on its morphology though with genetic evidence it is placed with the Pelecaniformes. It has a somewhat stork-like overall form deriving its name from its enormous shoe-shaped bill measuring an incredible 23 centimeters in length and 10 centimeters in width, with a razor-sharp, curved hook at the end. The shoebill is a rare bird species found in the marshes of East Africa surviving in few numbers. The adult shoebill is mainly grey while the juveniles are browner in plumage. While on a Uganda birding safari, you can sight the shoebill in Mabamba Wetland, Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Rugogo swamp in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Lake Mburo National Park and Semuliki National Park.
Green-breasted Pitta (Pitta reinchenowi)
The green-breasted pitta is one of the rare birds to spot in Uganda. The breast is green and the throat is bordered by a black line. Immatures have duller, darker plumage, and a brownish olive breast found in the tropical lowland forest of Kibale Forest National Park. It makes a Short bell-like whistle sound for 0·25–0·5 seconds, repeated several times. It breeds in May and feeds on mainly hairless caterpillars, beetles and beetle larvae, termites, maggots, small millipedes, small centipedes.
Handsome Francolin (Pternistis nobilis)
It’s a terrestrial forest Francolin about 35cm long with a dark brown plumage (duller for the young ones), brown iris, bare red orbital skin, grey head, red bill and legs. The female is slightly smaller though both sexes are physically similar. The Handsome Francolin is elusive and shy bird more easily heard than seen. It can easily be seen early morning and late evening. Its feeding is mainly on seeds. It flies for short distances.
Shelley’s Crimson-wing (Cryptospiza shelleyi)
Shelley’s Crimson-wing is a brightly colored plumage finch with a bright red bill. It’s about 13cm (5.1in) long living in altitudes of up to1960m and 3400m. The female Shelley’s Crimson-wing has an olive head and some red on the mantle and rump. The male has bright red crown, face and back, olive yellow underpants with contrasting black wings and tail. Its voice is high and sharp with a tit tit tit call.
African Green Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri)
The African Green Broadbill is a small plump bird with bright grass green plumage and a pale blue tinge to the throat, breast, base of the short tail and the feathers covering the ears. The bill is wide, flattened, slightly hooked and black in color. It has a widely varied diet consisting invertebrates like small beetles, snails, insects, vegetables, small seeds, flower buds and fruits. They live in small flocks of up to ten (10) birds.
Great Blue Turaco (Corythaeola cristata)
The Great Blue Turaco is the largest Turaco and one of the most exquisite birds found in Uganda. The Great Blue Turaco is 70–76 cm in length with a mass of 800–1,231 g. This brilliantly colored fruit loving bird is one of the most unique and sought-after by many birding safaris in Uganda tourists. The adults have turquoise-blue bodies which include their wings and tails. Their tails are long and dramatic, while their bellies are usually a yellow-green that carries down under their tail feathers. They have a large bill that is bright yellow with a red tip and a blue-black raised crest crowning the top of their head. Unlike many bird species which have the males brightly colored than females, the female Great Blue Turaco is brightly colored.
Standard-winged Nightjar (Caprimulgus longipennis)
The standard-winged nightjar is a nocturnal bird in the nightjar family. Adult breeding males have extraordinarily elongated primary feathers, shaped either as pennants or standards. They are stunning in flight and at rest. One of the best places to sight them is at Murchison Falls National Park.
Black-breasted Barbet (Lybius rolleti)
The black-breasted barbet is a species of bird in the Lybiidae family. The Black-breasted Barbet is a magnificent bird in its own right and much more localized. In Uganda, you can sight the Black-breasted barbet at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is also the best Uganda gorilla trekking safari destination.
Bar-tailed Trogon (Apaloderma vittatum)
The Bar-tailed Trogon is a species of bird in the family Trogonidae majorly living in high altitude forests. The Bar-tailed Trogon is about 28–30 cm with a territorial call a series of 7–14 sharp, high-pitched “wup”. You can see the Bar-tailed Trogon in Mpanga Forest.
The Short-tailed Warbler can be found primarily in Uganda’s forest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.This is a small short tailed Warbler with a thin pointy bill. breeding males are yellow-green above with a gray cap and a pale eyebrow. The underside is plain whitish, although some have yellow-washed undersides.