THE RARE SHOE BILL STORK – UGANDA SAFARIS

shoebill - uganda toursThis Uganda safari offer is a unique bird species of its kind. Three features conglomerate to provide the shoe bill its curious and fairly historic prehistoric appearance. One is its enormous proportions; an adult might stand more than 5ft tall and typically weighs 6 kg. The second is its unique salty – grey coloration. The third is its clog – shaped, hook – tipped bill at 20 cm long and comprehensive and leading of the exiting species of birds.

The first known references of this special creature arouse from the writings of Europeans on Sudan expedition that featured flying creature of camel size known to the local Arabs as Abu Markub – father of the shoe. Thought the western biologists refuted the assertions, it was until 1851 that Gould confirmed it from his experience shaped by the avian collections that originated in the upper part of the White Nile. The life cycle of the shoe bill can stretch to over 50 years with a monogamous marital setting often pairing up in the breeding season (April- June) to construct a grassy nest up to 3m wide on a mound of floating vegetation or a small island. Two eggs are laid, and the parents equally participate in the incubation process including the amazing egg cooling using beak collected water. One month’s hatching period is considered before parents embark on chicks’ care for the next two months.

The shoe bill is a true swamp specialist though avoiding dense stands of papyrus and tall grass which obstruct its flying. This birding safari creature takes food amounts half to its weight per day with lung fish as the delicacy.  Classified as near the globally threatened by Bird international, its global population estimates vary wildly. In 1970s only 1,500 shoe bills were thought to exist in the wild but this has been reviewed to range between 10,000 and 15,000 numbers existing in five countries of Uganda, Sudan, Zambia, DRC and Tanzania with minor  breeding populaces in Rwanda and Ethiopia and vagrants been recorded in Malawi and Kenya.

Of all the states, Uganda is the easiest place to spot the shoe bill in the wild. With concentrations of less than 1,000 birds mostly in Kyoga-Bisina-Opeta complex of wetlands. For tourists on Uganda safari visit, can easily spot the shoebill in Murchison falls national park, Semliki wild life reserve, and Mabamba swamp near Entebbe. Short tours to the Zoo in Entebbe rewards a traveler with a complete views. This great and rare threatened bird species can be arranged in your Uganda birding safaris, Uganda wildlife safari or alongside gorilla tracking/ trekking safari in Uganda.

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