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- On January 7, 2020
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A visit to see a prehistorical shoebill stork is a highlight of Uganda birding safaris. With no doubt, over 80% of birding travelers to Uganda choose to visit the iconic shoebill stork before thinking of all other bird species in the Pearl of Africa. Despite the many bird species that call Uganda home, the shoebill stork stands out as the most visited bird species in Uganda. Each day, a new number of travelers check in to Uganda to have a close encounter with the endangered shoebill stork. Birding tour to see the shoebill stork complements other tourist activities in Uganda including mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest/Mgahinga Gorilla, golden monkey trekking, game viewing in open savannah parks mountain climbing to Mt Rwenzori, Virunga Volcanoes, Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest and Cultural tours among others which together make a complete Uganda safari package.
Where to see shoebill stork in Uganda
Mabamba bay wetland on the shores of Lake Victoria is a major destination to see shoebill stork in Uganda. Each day, a new number of travelers are seen canoeing through the boggy Mabamba wetland to have a glimpse of this endangered bird specie. Mabamba bay wetland is one of the important bird areas (IBA’s) in Uganda, a must-visit for every birder to Uganda. Shoebill in Mabamba swamp is well seen in the morning but can also be seen all day through. A 1-Day birding tour to Mabamba wetland offers you the best shoebill stork encounters. Other bird species in Mabamba wetland include yellow-billed duck, Angola Swallow, African Jacana, Olive bellied Sunbird, Blue-breasted bee-eater, Swamp Flycatcher, Long-tailed Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, African Fish eagle and White-winged tern among others. Our experienced birding guides will help you spot the shoebill stork and also explain key features about this endangered bird specie. Interestingly, Mabamba bay wetland is located close to Entebbe International air[port which makes connectivity easy and convenient for fewer time travelers. The trip to see shoebill stork can be done at the start or end of your Uganda safari.
Lake Mburo National park is yet another destination to see shoebill stork in Uganda. The shoebill stork in Lake Mburo lives with 350 bird species that live in this savannah park. Other Birds in Lake Mburo include African fish eagle, Red papyrus Genelok, Abyssinia ground hornbill, Black Papyrus Genelok, Coqui Francolin, Brown-chested Lapwing, Bateleur and grey crowned crane among others.
About shoebill stork
Scientifically called Balaeniceps rex, a shoebill stork is a rare bird that some people call a whale headed beak. Shoebill stork is named after its shoe-shaped bill with which it strikes fish from deep waters. Shoebill stork is believed to be related to Goliath from the early Oligocene of Egypt and Paludavis from Miocene in Egypt also.
Physical description of a shoebill stork
The height of a shoebill stork ranges from 110 to 145cm depending on the age while the length between the beak and tail is between 100 to 140 cm. The wingspan measures between 230 to 260cm. The male adult shoebill weights between 5-6 kilograms. Legs are dark-colored and long measuring between 21 to 25 cm with large feet. The shoebill’s neck is shorter and thicker compared to other birds in the same category such as herons.
All over the world, shoebill storks live in freshwater swamps of Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Zambia, Tanzania, Sudan, and South Sudan. Shoebill stork can migrate from one place to another depending on food availability, habitat changes and threats especially human disturbances.
Generally, a shoebill stork is a peaceful and quiet bird specie known for its slow movements. In most cases, shoebill stork stays still for long periods the reason why it has been nicknamed “Statue Like”. These rare birds like to live in poorly oxygenated waters with plenty of fish to feed on. The shoebill stork stalks its prey, waits patiently until it strikes and captures it.
Do you want to see the iconic shoebill stork on your Uganda birding safari? Contact Africa Adventure Safaris and enjoy a magical encounter with this rare bird in its natural habitat.