Brown-throated wattle-eye in Uganda
One of the avian treasures found within Uganda’s lush forests is the Brown-throated Wattle-eye (Platysteira cyanea). This striking bird, characterized by its vibrant plumage and distinctive wattle-eye, captivates birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. In this article, we will explore the fascinating characteristics, habitat, behavior, and conservation status of the Brown-throated Wattle-eye in Uganda.
The Brown-throated Wattle-eye is a small passerine bird measuring about 10 centimeters in length. The male boasts a vibrant cobalt-blue crown and upperparts, a rich brown throat, and a distinctive white belly. The wings and tail feature intricate patterns of black and white, creating a delightful contrast to its colorful body. On the other hand, the female sports a more subdued appearance with olive-brown plumage and lacks the brilliant blue crown.
Endemic to the African continent, the Brown-throated Wattle-eye is found across the equatorial regions, ranging from eastern Nigeria to western Uganda, and extending southwards to Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Within Uganda, this species is commonly found in the dense tropical rainforests of national parks of Bwindi, Mgahinga and Kibale forests.
The Brown-throated Wattle-eye prefers the cool, damp understory of primary and secondary forests. Its natural habitat includes riverine forests, bamboo thickets, and montane forests, where it thrives amidst the lush foliage and abundance of insects for food. Despite being small in size, the wattle-eye is an agile and acrobatic bird, flitting adeptly from branch to branch in search of its prey.
Primarily insectivorous, the Brown-throated Wattle-eye (Platysteira cyanea) feeds on various insects like beetles, ants, termites, caterpillars, and spiders. Its unique “wattle-eye” adaptation allows it to detect and capture insects efficiently. The wattle-eye refers to a fleshy ornament above each eye, which is believed to aid in their visual perception and navigation through the dense forest environment.
During the breeding season, which typically occurs from March to July, the male wattle-eye performs an enchanting courtship display to attract females. This display involves fluttering its wings, hopping around, and singing melodious songs from exposed perches. The male’s brilliant blue crown becomes even more pronounced during this display, adding to its allure.
The vocalizations of the Brown-throated Wattle-eye are a symphony of whistles, trills, and chirps, with each note serving a distinct purpose, from attracting a mate to establishing territorial boundaries. The bird’s song resonates through the forest canopy, contributing to the enchanting ambiance of the tropical wilderness.
While the Brown-throated Wattle-eye (Platysteira cyanea) is not currently listed as globally threatened, its habitat in Uganda and other African countries faces significant challenges. Deforestation, due to logging, agriculture, and human settlement, poses a considerable threat to the bird’s survival. As these lush forests dwindle, the wattle-eye loses its natural home and vital foraging grounds.
Conservation efforts, spearheaded by various NGOs and governmental agencies, strive to protect the habitats of the Brown-throated Wattle-eye. National parks in Uganda, such as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and Kibale National Park, play a crucial role in safeguarding this species by providing protected areas for its survival.
In conclusion, the Brown-throated Wattle-eye (Platysteira cyanea) is a true gem of the forests in Uganda. Its stunning appearance, unique adaptations, and enchanting behaviors make it a sought-after sighting for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts visiting the country. As Uganda continues to make strides in conservation and sustainable development, the protection of these precious habitats is essential to ensure the survival of the Brown-throated Wattle-eye and other wildlife species that call this biodiverse nation their home.