The Shoebill In Uganda

The Shoebill In Uganda

January 2, 2022
Safari Tips

Are you looking to know the details of shoebill in Uganda? The shoebill derives its name from its mouth that is “shoe-Like”. It’s one of the most sought after bird in Uganda. When you just see its picture, you may think the bird is unreal and actually doesn’t exist, but there are actually several of them in Uganda. Its scientific name is Balaenicepe rex.

  1. Habitat

This bird inhabits around fresh waters of Marshlands, swamps and wetlands. The Bird is Endemic to Eastern and Central African countries of Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, South Sudan and Uganda.

In Uganda, the Shoebill can be found in Mabamba Swamp in Entebbe, Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Murchison Fall National Park and Lake Mburo National Park

  1. Physical Appearance

The shoebill is naturally a tall Bird .It is about 4.5 Feet and weighs about 7 Kilograms. The most special feature on the shoebill stork is its bill which is shoe shaped. It is Grey in Color.

The Bill of this bird has sharp edges which the bird uses to cut through its food. The beak is about 10 inches long and is not just for eating but also protecting itself.

The legs are black, Slender and long with Large feet.

The wings of the shoebill can spread up to 8 feet wide and it can flap about 150 times every minute.

  1. Food and Diet

The Shoebill a carnivore and feeds on aquatic life. It prefers to eat lung fish though but will always supplement this with other aquatic lives like, snakes, frogs, baby crocodiles and turtles.

The Shoebill is famous for being a patient and ad fierce hunter. It’s usually waits for its prey at the shallow end of the water and can wait I one position for more than an hour. It’s usually kills its prey will just one strike, that how swift it is.

  1. Social Habits

The shoebill is socially a solitary bird and usually comes together for mating, nest building and egg incubation. The shoebill has a life span of more than 35 years and become sexually active at 3 to 4 years of age.

The shoebill mates closer to the dry season as it is safer for the eggs to stay in the nest. The female lays about 1 to 3 eggs and it has an incubation period of about 30 days to hatch. The young ones usually stay in the nest and are unable to stand until they turn two months. The entirely depend on the mother until they turn 3 months when they can effectively do everything on their own but under the supervisions of the mother.

The shoebill mating season is closer to the dry period than the wet period when it is safer for the nest and eggs. The female lays between 1 to 3 eggs and incubates then for about 30 days until they hatch.

The ones one do a hiccup like some to notify the mother that they are hungry. The young one are very competitive and its always survival for the fittest in the nest. This goes on and on until the weaker ones are pushed out of the nest.

The shoebill can go a number of days without producing any sound but when it makes sounds, they are really loud. Usually the males make clapping like sounds to attract females and also scaring away other suitors.

The shoebill does not fly for long distances and it flaps its wings about 150 times every minute making it the slowest rate for nay bird. Its flies about 500 meters every round.

The shoebill has a tendency of defecating on themselves in order to regulate its body temperature and it cleans itself when its gets hot. This process is called urohydrosis.

  1. Conservation Status

The Shoebill stork in Uganda is considered a vulnerable species according to the IUCN Red list. The population of these birds has been reducing over time. The population of these birds is estimated at about 5000 in the whole world. The number is hard to estimate because these birds are so elusive. The biggest threat to the existence of these birds is human beings. The encroachment on wetlands is one of the biggest activities that threaten these birds. Uganda has about 1000 birds left.

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