Uganda ranks high among the richest destinations for birds in Africa and probably world over. Africa's birding capital is an Equatorial country of astonishing contrasts with an amazing diversity of habitats which support a checklist of up to 1050 bird Species, despite its small size compared to Great Britain in Europe, Ghana in West Africa and the State of Oregon in the US. Over three quarters of the birds known to occur are residents, and Afrotropical migrant species breed here. There are 10 globally threatened species, all in the vulnerable category, as well as two Data Deficient species and some 17 globally near-threatened species.
Three Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) lie partly within Uganda— the Albertine Rift mountains, Eastern DR Congo lowlands and Kenyan mountains— as well as three Secondary Areas: Dry woodlands west of Lake Victoria, North Ugandan swamps and North-east Uganda. There are 31 restricted-range species in Uganda, five of which are globally threatened, twenty-four of these species are endemic to the Albertine Rift Mountains, namely; Archer's Robin-Chat, Dusky Crimson-wing, Shelley's Crimson-wing, Strange Weaver, Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Purple -breasted Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Neumann's Warbler, Grauer's Warbler, Grauer's Rush Warbler, Collared Apalis, Black-faced Apalis, Kivu Ground Thrush, Red-throated Alethe, Grauer's Broadbill, Stripe-breasted Tit, Willard's Sooty Boubou, Rwenzori Turaco, and the Handsome Francolin. Although highly avian rich, the country has Fox’s Weaver as the only endemic species.
Uganda lies at the meeting place of five biomes of central and eastern Africa, each with a characteristic avifauna. These biomes comprise of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna with 22 species, the Guinea–Congo Forests biome with 144 species, the Lake Victoria Basin biome with 12 species, the Afrotropical Highlands biome with 88 species, and the Somali–Masai biome with 32 species.
Uganda harbours a large number of predominantly Central African species which cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa, these include some of the continent's most spectacular and sought-after species such as; Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, Black-casqued Wattled Hornbill, Nkulengu Rail, just to mention but a few birds like Shoebill, Lesser Jacana, Blue Swallow, Black-Shouldered Nightjar, Afep Pigeon, and Blue Breasted Bee-Eaters can be easily seen on a birdwatching safari.
The country’ bird record represents 60% of bird species found in Africa and 11% of the whole world.Great Blue Turaco
Uganda has 30,000 sq km of wetlands. The wetlands are home to over 210 species, ranging from the Shoebill and African Skimmer to the endemic Fox’s Weaver, four Papyrus endemics; the Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, White-winged Warbler and Papyrus Yellow warbler. And a White winged Black Tern roost of up to 3 million individuals at Lutembe bay.
Forest Reserves tend to be smaller and more widely scattered than other categories of protected areas. There are over 700 Forest Reserves, which include almost all vegetation-types in Uganda, not just forests
A forestry policy, which placed emphasis on the role of forestry in protection of the environment, was first adopted in 1929. Forest Reserves were then established to protect environmentally sensitive mountain-catchment areas and reserves of timber and other forest products for sustained utilization. Reservation began in 1900, but the majority of the reserves were designated in 1932.
Savannah varies from the remote, semi-dessert, dry thorn-scrub region of Karamoja in the North-east, to the richer fertile savanna of the western Rift valley.
Shoebill Balaeniceps rex
Diet: Lungfishes, Catfish, Tilapia, Frogs, Reptiles, and small mammal
Habitat and feeding: Swamps, marshes, particular floating vegetation, generally muddy areas on fresh water bodies
The Shoebill is a massive bird, growing to heights of 3-1/2ft to 4-1/2ft tall.
The birds nest solitarily, laying one to three eggs in a large flat nest built amid swamp grasses or sedges, usually in remote areas. These eggs measure 80 to 90 mm high by 56 to 61 mm and weigh around 164 g. It takes 140 days of nest-attendance to get from new-laid egg to independent offspring and it takes three to four years to get from newly independent offspring to mature adult.
This species is considered to be one of the five most desirable birds in Africa by ornithologists.