Shoebill Stork Bird in Uganda
Shoebill stork bird in Uganda; Uganda is known for its rich biodiversity which is comprised of variety of bird species including the elusive shoebill stork, different mammal species such as the big five mammals which are elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, lions and leopards, other animals like giraffes, zebras, Uganda kobs, warthogs, hippos, cheetahs, hyenas, primates like the endangered mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, golden monkeys among others. Uganda is a home of more than 1050 bird species and it’s one of the best destinations in Africa where you can spot the rare and elusive shoebill stork.
The shoebill stork which is also known as Balaeniceps rex/ Whale head is one of the most sought after bird in Africa. The shoe bill stork is has medium blue grey feathers with a tail which has the same color as the wings and when flying its legs extend straight back far past the tail and the neck draws back. The shoebill stork derives its name from its mouth which is in a shoe-like shape with a sharp bent beak. A mature female shoebill stork weighs about 4.9 kilograms while a male shoebill weight about 5.6 kilograms. The shoebill storks have a height range of about 110cm-140cm while standing tall on its legs and a long foot that goes up to 18cm which enables them to stand on aquatic vegetation. The length of the shoebill stork tail ranges from 100-140cm and their wingspans of about 230-260cm. The shoebill stork bird is described as statue like bird because it’s usually seen standing and staying still in one place for a long period of time. They shoebills are slow and their flying distance ranges between 100-500 meters, this is due to their flapping rate which is about 150 flaps per minute and their nature.
The shoebill stork is known to be solitary and has a lifespan of about 35 to 50 years or even more. During the mating season which is between April and June the male and female shoebill storks build nests of about 1-1.7 meters wide out of aquatic vegetation on floating platforms. Both the female and male shoebills engage in the activity of nest building and the female usually lays about one to three eggs that weight 164g. The incubation period takes about 30 days and both parents are involved in guarding the nest and feeding the young ones. The young shoebill stork develops feathers for flying after about 105 days but can fly well after 112 days.
Shoebill storks are found in swamps or lakes and they feed on prey such as frogs, water snakes, baby crocodiles, turtles, rodents, monitor lizards, turtles, snails, small waterfowls, tilapia fish, lung fish, cat fish among others. The shoebill storks feed in muddy waters and they hunt with vision in that when they spot the prey they quickly strike or sometimes they slowly wait to ambush.
The population of shoebill storks in Uganda is marked endangered with an estimate of less than 1000 shoebill storks remaining. There are however several factors affecting the population growth of the shoebill stork such as fishermen who hunt and kill them with a belief that they bring bad omen, habitat destruction where by the swamp are being converted to agricultural land and cattle grazing areas, pollution, climate changes among others.
Where to see the shoebill stork birds in Uganda
Shoebill storks can be spotted in several destinations such as Lugogo swamp in Ziwa Rhino sanctuary, Mabamba swamp on lake Victoria, Murchison falls national park along the Albert Nile and the shoebill storks can be viewed during the Nile delta boat cruise, Lake Mburo national park in western Uganda, Toro-Semuliki wildlife reserve, Nabajuzi swamp in Masaka, Makanaga swamp bay, Ishasha sector in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth national park, Lwera swamp and Uganda Wildlife Education Centre(UWEC).
The shoebill stork birds are also found in other destinations like Rwanda, Southern Sudan, North of Zambia, Western Tanzania, Eastern Congo, Botswana, Kenya, Northern Cameroon, Malawi among others.
Apart from the prehistoric shoebill stork Uganda offers other unique activities such as gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park, chimpanzee trekking in Kibale national park, Golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park, mountain climbing, launch cruise safaris and wildlife viewing in the savannah national parks. For birding safaris and more information about the prehistoric shoebill stork bird in Uganda, do not hesitate to contact Achieve Global Safaris.