Budongo Forest Reserve

Great Blue Turaco
Great Blue Turaco
  • Size: 79,300 ha
  • District: Masindi, Hoima, and Buliisa
  • Birds Recorded: Over 335 Species
  • Altitude: 700–1,270 m
  • Vegetation: Semi-deciduous moist tropical rain forest

Budongo Forest Reserve was gazetted as a Central Forest Reserve (CFR) in 1932. The Reserve, which is a mixture of tropical high forest with a large population of mahoganies and savanna grasslands and woodland, covers 79,300 ha, making it Uganda’s biggest Forest Reserve and the second most important after Semliki National Park.

It has one of the longest continuous research records of any tropical rain forest, with permanent plots dating back to the beginning of 20th century.

This forest type is classified as medium altitude semi deciduous moist forest with a high biodiversity of over 360 species of birds; 24 species of small mammals; nine being primates; 465 species of trees and shrubs; 289 species of butterflies; and 130 species of moths

There is Prolific Birdlife with two species not found elsewhere in East Africa: 10 of the 22 species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome and 93 of the 144 species Guinea–Congo Forests biome that occur in Uganda have been recorded at this site.

Rare species to catch here will include the Puvel’s Illadopsis, Nahan’s Francolin, and the Chocolate–Backed Kingfisher, White-headed Saw-wing, White Wagtail, Black-eared Ground-Thrush, Little Crake, Yellow-billed Barbet, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, African Paradise Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Lemon-bellied Crombec, African Moustached Warbler, Green-backed Eremomela, Yellow-throated Greenbul, African Citril, African Golden-breasted Bunting, Black-crowned Waxbill, Bronze Mannikin, Black-billed Bluebill, Black-winged Red Bishop, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Spectacled Weaver, Black-necked Weaver, Yellow-backed Weaver, Compact Weaver, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Holub’s Golden Weaver, Red-headed Weaver, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Greater Blue-eared Starling, Purple Starling, Purple-headed Starling, Splendid Starling, Northern Puffback, Black-headed Gonolek, Tropical Boubou, Isabelline Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Western Violet-backed Sunbird and many more.

Four tree species of conservation concern: Cordia millenni, Irvingia gabonensis, Milicia excelsaand Entandrophragma angolense have been recorded.

Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta)

This sedentary medium-sized wading bird of 56 cm long, weighing 470 gm is know to occur from Africa to coastal southwest Arabia wetlands.

Hamerkops feed during the day, the main diet consists of amphibians and fish. Sometimes, they eat shrimp, insects and rodents. They walk in shallow water looking for prey, shuffling one foot at a time on the bottom or suddenly opening their wings to flush prey out of hiding.

Hamerkops, of all birds make the biggest nest in the trees, sometimes more than 1.5 m across, comprising perhaps 10,000 sticks and strong enough to support a man's weight. A mud-plastered entrance 13 to 18 cm wide in the bottom leads through a tunnel up to 60 cm long to a nesting chamber big enough for the parents and young.

They lay 3 to 7 eggs that start white but soon become stained. Both sexes incubate for 28 to 30 days. The chicks leave the nest at 44 to 50 days.

In culture, the bird is associated to bad omen; Some cultures in Uganda believe, when the bird patches on ones house then they are likely to be struck by lightening. In some places, when it calls over the house, people know that someone close to them has died. The Kalahari Bushmen believe that the inimical god Khauna would not like anyone to kill a Hamerkop. According to an old Malagasy belief, anyone who destroys its nest will get leprosy, and a Malagasy poem calls it an "evil bird". Such beliefs have given the bird some protection.

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