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Sought After Birds of Uganda

  • African Green Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri)

Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Aves, Family: Eurylaimidae, Genus: Pseudocalyptomena, Species: Pseudocalyptomena graueri

The Grauer's Broadbill or African Green Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri) is an actual broadbill, one of the only a few African representatives of a primarily Asian family. It is bright green with a blue throat and vent and a small bill, quite unlike those of the other broadbills. It is endemic to the Albertine Rift Mountains of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests where it forages in canopies.

It is one of the African Big Five bird species, highly sought after by ornithologists but very elusive.

The species is globally endangered


  • Green-breasted Pitta (Pitta reichenowi)


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Pittidae

Species: Pitta reichenowi


Habitat: subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests

Location: Uganda, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon


  • Karamoja Apalis (Apalis karamoja)


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Cisticolidae

Species: Apalis Karamojae

Diet: Invertebrates

Habitat: Accacia Woodland

Location: Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania

There is little known about this 12-13cm vulnerable species. The Karamoja Apalis in Uganda has Grayish upper parts, darker wings and tail, whitish underparts, and very noticeable white outer tail feathers.

The bird forages for invertebrates in small family parties, and often joins mixed-species flocks.


  • Papyrus Gonolek (Laniarius mufumbiri)


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Malaconotidae

Species: Laniarius mufumbiri

Diet: Ants, beetles, weevils, small flies, Hymenopterans, caterpillars, snails and fruit

Habitat: Fresh water bodies Papyruses

Location: Uganda, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi


  • Puvel's Illadopsis (Illadopsis puveli)


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Timaliidae

Species: Illadopsis puveli


Habitat:Subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, and subtropical or tropical moist shrubland.

Location:Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Togo


  • Shelley's Crimsonwing (Cryptospiza shelleyi)


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Estrildidae

Species: Cryptospiza shelleyi


Habitat:Under storey of closed-canopy moist forest, often in lush valley bottoms near water, as well as low secondary growth at forest edges, forest clearings and glades dominated by large herbs, bamboo thickets and the upper forest/moorland ecotone.

Location: Albertine Rift: Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi

The species first got on record in 1902.

The brightly-coloured elusive Shelley's Crimson-wing is approximately 13cm long. The cock bird has a bright red crown, face and back, with contrasting black wings and tail, as well as olive-yellow underparts with warmer tones on flanks and belly. The hen bird has an olive head and some red on mantle and rump. Both sexes have bright red bills.


  • Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex)


Kingdom: Animalia


Class: Aves

Order: Ciconiiformes

Family: Balaenicipitidae

Species: 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

Location: In the wild, the Shoebill is only found on the African Continent

The Shoebill Bird's scientific name, Balaeniceps Rex, which means 'the most extraordinary bird I have seen for many years' causes doubtless echo through many people's minds when they have their first good view of the species

The Shoebill is a massive bird, growing to heights of 3-1/2ft to 4-1/2ft tall. The shoebill is also referred to as the Whale-headed stork and both of these common names reflect the distinct broad bill this bird processes. The plumage of the shoebill is various shades of grey and both sexes exhibit similar plumage. Shoebills have very sharp edges on their bills that are ideal for capturing and eating prey. Shoebills use these sharp edges to cut up their food prior to swallowing it.

This species was first classified in the 19th century when some skins were taken to Europe. It was not until years later that live specimens reachedthe scientific community. However, the bird was known to both ancient Egyptians and Arabs. There are Egyptian images depicting the Shoebill bird.

Different origins have different names in reference to the bird; the Arabs refered the bird to as abu markub which means father of the shoe,the English, King Whalehead, and the Germany, Schuhschnabel.

At any rate, 'Shoebill' has gradually gained ascendancy as the name for one of the most exciting and sought-after of all the birds of the African continent.

The birds nest solitarily, laying one to three eggs in a large flat nest built amid swamp grasses or sedges, usually in remote areas. 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.

  •  Blue Swallow (Hirundo atrocaerulea)
  •  Chapin's Flycatcher (Muscicapa lendu)
  •  Dwarf Honeyguide (Indicator pumilio)
  •  Grauer's Swamp-Warbler (Bradypterus graueri)
  •  Great Snipe (Gallinago media)
  •  Kivu Ground-thrush (Zoothera tanganjicae)
  •  Lagden's Bush-shrike (Malaconotus lagdeni)
  •  Lesser Flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor)
  •  Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)
  •  Malagasy Pond Heron (Ardeola idae)
  •  Nahan's Francolin (Ptilopachus nahani)
  •  Oberländer's Ground-thrush (Zoothera oberlaenderi)
  •  The Orange Weaver (Ploceus aurantius)
  •  Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)
  •  Papyrus Canary (Serinus koliensis)
  •  Papyrus Yellow Warbler (Chloropeta gracilirostris)
  •  Red-faced Barbet (Lybius rubrifacies)
  •  Sassi's Olive Greenbul (Phyllastrephus icterinus lorenzi)
  •  White-naped Pigeon (Columba albinucha)

Common Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

common squacco heron

The Common Squacco Heron is a palearctic migrant, breeding in southern Europe and Greater Middle East, and wintering in Africa.

This small heron is stocky with a short neck, short thick bill and buff-brown back, growing to 44–47 cm long (bill tip to tail, 20–23 cm width and 80–92 cm of wingspan.

The Squacco Heron breeds in marshy wetland habitats of warm countries. The birds nest in small colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs where they lay up to 3-4 eggs.

Their diet consist of fish, frogs and insects.

Mountain Gorilla

(Gorilla beringei beringei)

Mountain gorillas are the largest living primates and the world's most endangered apes with a population of less than 800 individuals world over- none in zoos. They are found in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

They share 97% DNA with human beings! They are our closest living cousins after the Chimpanzee.

They have up to 25 vocalization for communication

Mountain Gorillas are shy, social and very active during day. They live in families of 8-25 members with one leading male (The Silver Back).

Gorillas have a lifespan of 50 years in the wild. They reproduce at a very slow speed with a gestation period of approximately 8.5 months and an interval of four years to the next birth.

Diet: Mainly herbivores eating fruits, herbs, leaves, stems, roots and shoots. Sometimes ingest small insects like ants and termites.

Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus)

The Village Weaver is a stocky 15–17 cm bird with a strong conical bill and dark reddish eyes.

This weaver builds a large coarsely woven nest made of grass and leaf strips with a downward facing entrance which is suspended from a branch in a tree. 2-3 eggs are laid. This is a colonial breeder, so many nests may hang from one tree.

Village Weaver feeds principally on seeds and grain, and can be a crop pest, but it will readily take insects, especially when feeding young, which partially redresses the damage to agriculture.

The calls of this bird include harsh buzzes and chattering.

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.

Blue-breasted Bee-eater (Merops variegatus)

Blue-breasted Bee-eater

Kingdom: Amimalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Aves, Order: Coraciiformes, Family: Meropidae, Genus: Merops

The Blue-breasted Bee-eater is endemic to Africa and just as the name suggests, predominantly eats flying insects, especially bees and wasps, which are caught in the air by sallies from an open perch. While pursue any type of flying insect, honey bees predominate in their diet. Hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps) comprise from 20% to 96% of all insects eaten, with honey bees comprising approximately one-third of the Hymenoptera.


Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill (Bycanistes subcylindricus)

Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill

The Black-and-white-casqued Hornbillis a large hornbill, approximately 70 cm of length. It has an oversized blackish bill with large casque. The female is slightly smaller than the male, and has a significantly smaller casque.

The Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill is found in wooded habitats in central and western Africa, ranging from western Kenya to Côte d'Ivoire with an isolated population in north Angola.

A monogamous species, pairs nest in suitable tree cavities. The female usually lays up to two eggs. The diet consists mainly of figs, fruits, insects and small animals found in the trees.

  1. Uganda
  2. Kenya
  3. Rwanda