From the savannahs of the Kidepo to the deep forests of the Mabira, right through the impenetrable Bwindi and to the top of Wagagai, the variety of bird species in Uganda is undeniable.
Being located within the tropics, Uganda has one of the most conducive weather for bird habitation; making it easy for several species to flourish throughout the country’s green including the city.
There are over 1,000 bird species including those that have not be documented for tourism, but among those are some that are most sought after by birdwatchers and well known to the local population.
Grey Crowned Crane
Commonly known as the Crested Crane, this bird is a national treasure and can be spotted on the Ugandan flag and coat of arms. The Crested Crane is a subspecies of the Crane family; there is elegance in their movements and can be found around swampy areas, lake shores or other wetlands in the country.
Due to constant poaching and ritualistic purposes, the population of Crested Cranes in Uganda has dwindled over the years. They are a sight to behold when ascending to flight, their wide spread feathers shimmer with color.
Shoe Billed Stork
This bird might confuse several scientists on which family it should belong to; Ciconiiformes or Pelecaniformes. The shoebill is one of the top sought after birds in Uganda. The bird’s unique feature is its large shoe shaped bill that it uses to forage food at the same time helps it stand out uniquely from its other stork relatives, shoebills are only found on the African continent.
Shoebills in Uganda can be found around the marshy- swampy areas of the country; they mainly feed on tilapia and lungfish even if shoebills are considered to be piscivorous.
Though not much is known about these birds, they are part of the Cisticolidae family/Warbler family and were first spotted in Karamoja in 1919 which explains their English name.
You have probably heard them sing the first and last song of the day out in the shrubs when you visit the village. They tend to nest in low thorny thick shrubs and can be easily spotted around the savannah in the national parks of Uganda, although they are more common in the North Eastern part of the country. The Uganda Karamoja Apalis is usually grey in color and almost the size of a small fist.
African Green Broadbill
This bright- green with a blue throat bird has a small bill, quite unlike those of the other broadbills. The African green broadbill is also known as Grauer's Broadbill and can be identified by their leafy green color with a light blue breast/ rump and short but protruding tail. They can be found in the Albertine region of Uganda, especially in the Bwindi Impenetrable forest. They are classified as vulnerable due to constant degrading of most of its habitats.
Great Blue Turaco
The Great blue turaco is one of the largest species of the Turaco bird group that is found in Uganda; they are common in dense tropical forests such the Mabira. Their physical characteristics make them look like a cross between the great eagle and the peacock. They have very beautiful bright colored feathers; blue body with a yellow breast and red- yellow beaks. The Great blue turacos are reducing in number, since they are hunted down for meat and for their feathers.
Doherty’s Bush Shrike
The Bush Shrike is a bird from the Malaconotidae family and is found in the shrublands of Uganda and forests on and around the slopes of Mountains. They have bright colors; black, yellow, red and a little grey that almost make them look like they are wearing the Ugandan flag on their feathers. They are among the most common birds one can find in the country when birding and their population is mostly stable.
Black Breasted Barbet
Lybius Rolleti is a bird indigenous to Africa but are usually rarely to find, they nest in thick vegetation areas and known to be very solitary birds. They are plump-looking, with large heads and their heavy bill is fringed with bristles. Black Breasted Barbets feed off of fruits such as guavas and mangoes plus small insects and vertebrates. Fruit is eaten whole and indigestible material such as seed pits regurgitated later. African barbets are quite similar to the American barbets which also belong to Piciformes.