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UGANDA: A BIRD WATCHERS’ MINE

Not sure whether to visit Uganda? If birds are your forte, pack your bags and get here immediately!

A Shoebill stork/Image/Petr Gnaj/Pexels

Imagine a place with maximum diversity in culture, trade and practice. Imagine the droves of people of every race, background, skill, gender and personality that would live and thrive in such a place, that place being a haven for all kinds of culture.

There is such a place for birds.

Uganda.
Its swamps, lakes, and forests across 4 regions are a hub for unique bird species, thanks to its strategic location between the East African Savannah, West African rainforests and the semi-desert in the North. It provides a diversity of habitats for all kinds of birds, some endemic to these parts. Yes, endemic, only found here.

Various species of birds call Uganda home, famously referred to as the Pearl of Africa by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in his book My African Journey.

Locals in western Uganda live unhinged about the mine of bird around them. On a normal day going about their farm business, a closer look around would reveal wonders. Birds of all colors perch on trees, buzzing and humming, a blue neck, a checkered tail, you get to see it all. Some have argued, camping at a hotel balcony in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city is enough to view a huge variety of birds.

Wikipedia lists Uganda’s known species of birds at 1090 as of August 2021, stating that one of these is endemic and three have been introduced by humans. Several tags can be assigned to the different species to help revelers understand the birds’ origin.

Talk about variety!

This abundance of birds is the reason that Uganda is a top birding destination. The bird species’ diversity ranging from endemic birds to birds of prey to migrant birds and everything in between, as well as their diverse habitants is sure to give even the most particular birdwatcher something to interest them.

The ease of access to many of the birds’ habitants mostly housed in National Parks around the country makes Uganda even a more desirable birdwatchers’ destination.

Murchison Falls National Park, seated in the Northwestern part of the country boasts of over 450 species of birds including Flamingos and the martial eagle while in the Southwest[.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to some of the World’s rare birds; the swamp warbler, forest ground thrush, and the African green broadbill.

Shoebill storks, which are some of the weirdest birds in the World popular with scientists as well as ordinary birdwatchers, can be found in several places in Uganda.

A visit to Mabamba bay along Lake Victoria’s shores, Queen Elizabeth Park, Lake Kyoga, Semiliki Wildlife Reserve, Ziwa Rhino Reserve will open up their world to interested people. With its miniature likeness to the ancient Shoe-bill dinosaur from which, it derives its name, this bird is one of the most sought-after all-over Africa.

The Long-crested eagle with its long white patches at the joints can be found perching on trees or wood, on high alert for prey. They can be found in Uganda’s Woodlands and its domesticity, living in the same place for long periods of time among other things is interesting.

Natives believe that the bird has prophetic tendencies, telling people where their future spouse can be found by turning its head in one direction or another to signal where a person should go to find them, you may not subscribe to this way of finding a lifetime partner but you can appreciate the sacredness and respect that people have for birds that live among them.

A trip to Bwindi Impenetrable Park will not only give you the chance to see the famous Mountain Gorillas but also some of the 350 species of birds that live there. Some of these are hard-to-see birds which can pique one’s interest.

A trip to Uganda for a birding spree will bring you face to face with a few birds whose existence is endangered because of the fast depletion of their habitants especially by human development.

The Crested crane, Uganda’s national bird, famously embedded in the country’s flag and coat of arms, is endangered too, as complaints about water loss in their habitats increase.

As one treks Uganda’s forests, parks and reserves, sighting birds and reveling in their uniqueness, they also encounter realities of preservation and conservation that surround every animal species in our world.

Birdwatchers get away with firsthand experiences of these birds in their habitats, hopefully this awareness can empower people to advocate for the preservation of birds in many ways possible.

Clearly, we have only scratched the surface of this ginormous treasure trove. Hopefully, we have whet your appetite for a deeper excursion in a gold mine that promises to never run dry.

Visit Uganda today. Relish the birdlife.


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