Are you a bird lover interested in watching a shoebill during your Uganda birding safari? The shoebill stork is a magnificent, prehistoric-looking bird, and in Uganda this ancient species flourishes, making birding safaris in Uganda a sought-after desire for every bird enthusiast coming to Africa. In this article, we present to details of this sought after bird by travellers on birding safaris in Uganda. This huge greywater bird, also known as a whale-headed stork, derives its name Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex), from its gigantic bill (beak), which resembles a traditional Dutch clog with a sharp nail-like hook on the end. This shoebill stork was once classified with storks in the order Ciconiiformes however, the most recent DNA studies have suggested that it belongs to the pelicans in the order Pelecaniformes. Whatever its taxonomic similarities, this elusive swamp dweller has remained one of Africa’s most sought-after ticks for birders on Uganda birding tours. Where in Uganda would you spot this prehistoric bird on a Uganda birding tour? Definitely, it will be the swamps of Uganda where you will have the chance of a sighting during your birding tour in Uganda.
Description of a shoebill
Also referred to as a “King whale-head” because of its enormous head size, the shoebill stork is named after its shoe-like bill which can grow up to 24cm in length and 20cm in width. Even though they can weigh up to 6kg, they can stand quite easily on floating vegetation while hunting for fish. The shoebill is a big huge grey coloured bird with a giant bill. It has broad wings that spread up to about 2.5 metres from tip to tip. It’s flapping rate of approximately 150 flaps per minute rating it among the slowest birds.
What do these birds feed on?
Shoebills are specialist predators of lungfish hence their distribution through tropical East Africa seems to correspond with the availability of these fish. A shoebill often benefits from living alongside hippos. These huge amphibious mammals bulldoze channels through papyrus swamps, allowing shoebills access to otherwise inaccessible feeding areas. They also force fish to the surface, making them easier for the bird to capture.
They feed on other things like frogs, snails, water snakes, turtles, water birds and baby crocodiles.
Reproduction of a shoebill
The papyrus and reed beds are their preferred nesting habitat. A shoebill may hatch two or more chicks but seldom raise more than one. Stronger chicks will bully their weaker siblings, depriving them of food and sometimes killing them outright. This brutal practise also occurs among eagles. The younger chicks are a form of insurance: back-ups in case the eldest fails to survive.
Shoebill watching Spots in Uganda
Uganda is one of the leading destinations with numerous bird species in Africa that count up to about 1061 making it a one-stop destination for travellers interested in a birding safari Uganda. There are several Uganda birding safari tour spots in Uganda where shoebill storks can be sighted. While organizing your birding tour Uganda itinerary, take note of these popular spots where you can sight a shoebill stork. These include Murchison Falls National Park along the banks of the Nile River, especially in the delta area. You may choose to take an early morning and late evening private boat ride to the delta offering you high chances of spotting the bird. It is not easy to spot however; it is very hard to complete your birding safari in Uganda without sighting this bird.
Besides Murchison Falls National Park Uganda, Mabamba swamp is another hot spot and quite close to Kampala, Uganda’s capital. This spot is famous for 1 Day birding safaris in Uganda since it’s a spot where you can tick off a good number of birds on your list. Are you short of time and you would want to see this bird, book a birding safari to Uganda to Mabamba swamp with our professional Uganda birding safaris guide for about 7-hours? This 7 hours Mabamba 1 Day birding excursion Uganda gives you a chance to spot over 26o bird species with the possibility of spotting this legendary bird species; the shoebill storks.
During your Uganda wildlife safari tour in Queen Elizabeth National Park, the shoebill stork is known to thrive in the southern end of Lake Edward. Lake Edward is found in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda, the second biggest and second famous Uganda wildlife tour park after Murchison Falls National Park Uganda. While here, you can sight over 600 bird species during your Uganda birding safaris tour. Besides your bird watching safari Uganda, you can also enjoy a Uganda wildlife tour game drive around the park giving you the chance to sport the big four wild game including its famous tree-climbing lions.
Other spots in Uganda include the Rugogo swamp in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Lake Mburo National Park, and Semuliki National Park close to Lake Albert. Besides the shoebill stork, Uganda is home to approximately 1061 bird species that constitute 50% of Africa’s bird species and 11% of the world’s bird species count, making it a great destination for birders and the epitome of birding tours in Africa.
In all those destinations you may visit in search of the shoebill stork you have chances of seeing other rare species like the papyrus Gonolek for the case of mabamba bay. Therefore shoebill hunt is so rewarding is worth taking on while birding watching tour Uganda.
It is also wise you supplement your birding safari Uganda on your Africa tour with a Uganda wildlife tour, a Uganda gorilla tour or short Uganda gorilla safari, a Uganda chimpanzee trekking safari, Uganda wildlife safaris, Uganda gorilla safaris, Uganda chimpanzee trekking safaris, Uganda hiking safaris, Uganda Rwanda cycling safaris, a Jinja city tour or 1 Day Jinja city tour, a Kampala city tour or a 1-day Kampala city excursion, a Uganda cycling safari depending on your choice of safari in Uganda.
It is also possible to modify your Birding safari in Uganda or Birding tour in Uganda to feature other Africa safari destinations like Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya among the many. Congo safaris or a Congo safari offers you chance enjoy a Congo gorilla safari in Kahuzi Biega National Park to trek lowland gorillas or a Congo gorilla trekking tour in Virunga National Park to trek the famous Mountain gorillas.
Rwanda has lots of Rwanda safari activities to offer travellers interested in Rwanda tours like Rwanda birding safaris, Rwanda gorilla safaris in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda Chimpanzee trekking safaris in Nyungwe Forest National Park, a canopy walk in Nyungwe, a Kigali city tour or a Rwanda wildlife safari in Akagera National Park.
Tanzania safaris offer one of the best Africa wildlife safaris including Tanzania birding safaris. A Tanzania wildlife safari offers you the chance to visit Africas’ most famous Serengeti National Park while Kenya safaris offer Kenya birding safaris and Kenya wildlife safaris that bid you the chance to visit Masaai Mara National Park.
Book your Uganda birding safaris tour, birding safari Uganda or Bird watching safaris Uganda with us for the best ultimate Africa safari tour memories.