Uganda is a country brimming with a vast array of avian species, each with its own unique set of features and abilities. Amongst these are some of the world’s most impressive big birds, which serve as a reminder of the country’s natural beauty and diversity.
From the iconic Shoebill Stork to the powerful Martial Eagle, big birds in Uganda are a must-see for any bird-watching enthusiast or nature lover.
This article will provide an overview of some of the most notable big birds in Uganda, including details on their appearance, behavior, and habitat preferences.
Exploring the magnificent feats of these majestic birds is sure to be both an educational and awe-inspiring experience for any visitor to Uganda.
Sandgrouse is birds of the order Pterocliformes, found mainly in Africa and Asia. There are sixteen species belonging to two genera – Syrrhaptes from central Asia and Pterocles from Africa and other Asian countries.
They inhabit treeless areas such as deserts, steppes, scrubland, or savannas and tend to be ground-dwelling birds that feed on seeds.
Sandgrouse has adapted special features for survival in their harsh environment.
They possess well-developed feet with four toes used for walking over hot sand while keeping their body temperature cool at all times by regulating heat loss through their legs.
Their feathers also act like a sponge helping them absorb water before flying long distances back home where they then expel it using specialized glandular secretions located near the wings so that chicks can drink directly from an adult’s breast plumage.Scientific classification:
|Order||Pterocliformes Huxley, 1868|
|Family||Pteroclidae Bonaparte, 1831|
Songbirds are a special suborder of perching birds found all over the world. These beautiful creatures have intricate vocal organs that allow them to produce elaborate bird songs, making them stand out from other species.
With around 5,000 different types of songbird in existence, they come in various sizes and colors with complex feathers adding to their beauty.
Songbirds play an important role in eco-systems as they help disperse seeds by eating fruit and insects which act as agents for pollination.
Their presence also serves to attract more biodiversity into areas where these delicate animals live, creating vibrant habitats full of life.Scientific classification:
|Suborder||Passeri Linnaeus, 1758|
Jacanas are tropical waders belonging to the Jacanidae family. They have distinctive elongated toes and toenails which help them forage on floating or semi-emergent aquatic vegetation.
This adaptation gives them their nickname “Jesus birds” as they seem to be able to walk on water.
The female jacanas are also unique amongst bird species in that they take charge of nest building, incubation and caring for young while males perform courtship displays.
These unusual birds can be found throughout the world’s tropical regions where they inhabit wetlands such as swamps, marshes and shallow lakes with lily pads.
With a wide variety range due their special adaptations these beautiful creatures will surely continue living life at ease around our planet’s warmest waters.Scientific classification:
|Family||Jacanidae Stejneger, 1885|
Cuckoos are fascinating birds belonging to the Cuculidae family, which is the only taxon in the order of Cuculiformes.
There are many different species within this family such as common or European cuckoo, roadrunners, koels, malkohas, couas and anis.
Some of these species may even be identified as separate families – Centropodidae and Crotophagidae respectively.
These birds have been known for their unique features such as loud calls heard consistently during certain times of day and night.
They also exhibit behavior like brood parasitism where they lay eggs in other nests so that their chicks can get more food from host parents than its own.
All these traits make them one-of-a-kind creatures worth admiring.Scientific classification:
|Order||Cuculiformes Wagler, 1830|
|Family||Cuculidae Leach, 1820|
5. Augur Buzzard
The Augur Buzzard is an impressive African bird of prey, typically identified by its blackish back and wings, white underside and orange-red tail. A dark morph also exists for this species while juveniles are usually brown in colour.
It is found throughout Central and Southern Africa where it inhabits a variety of habitats ranging from grasslands to wooded savannas.
This Buteo genus member has a wide range of food sources including rodents, reptiles, insects and other birds making it quite versatile when hunting for sustenance.
Its powerful talons allow the buzzard to snatch up large prey with ease ensuring that meals are never far away.Scientific classification:
6. African Sacred Ibis
The African sacred ibis is a species of wading bird from the family Threskiornithidae. It has a wide distribution in Africa, as well as small parts of Iraq, Iran and Kuwait.
The species was highly revered by Ancient Egyptians for its association with their god Thoth; however it is now extinct from Egypt itself.
This majestic bird stands at around 70cm tall and primarily feeds on frogs, insects and small reptiles which it hunts using its long curved bill.
Its distinctive black plumage shows an iridescent sheen when exposed to sunlight while white feathers decorate its head neck underparts and wings giving way to glossy black back feathers edged in white at the tail end creating quite a stunning sight.Scientific classification:
7. White Stork
The White Stork is a majestic bird found in Europe, with white plumage and black wings. It has long slender legs and beaks that are usually bright red in color.
The average adult stands around 100 – 115 cm tall from beak to tail tip, while its wing span can reach up to 155-215 cm wide. There are two subspecies of the White Stork which differ slightly by size.
They feed on small animals such as frogs, fish or insects and nest near human dwellings due to the abundance of food available there; they also build nests atop chimneys or roofs when given the chance.
These birds have been revered for centuries as symbols of fertility because their return each spring often coincides with an increase in births among humans living nearby – something superstitious people take great note of.Scientific classification:
8. Greater Flamingo
The Greater Flamingo is an impressive bird belonging to the Phoenicopteridae family. It’s one of the most widespread and largest species among flamingos with a range covering Africa, India, Middle East and southern parts of Europe.
The bird was described by Peter Simon Pallas in 1811 but it wasn’t until recently that it was distinguished from American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), due to differences in coloration between them.
This large-bodied wading bird stands tall at 1m on average and has bright pink plumage adorning its long neck and legs which gives way to black wing tips when flying.
Its diet mainly consists of algae, crustaceans as well as small aquatic animals like mollusks found while they feed along shallow lakes or lagoons where they live their social lives surrounded by others just like them.Scientific classification:
9. Kori Bustard
The Kori Bustard is the largest flying bird native to Africa and part of the bustard family. It has a large body, with males reaching up to 20kg in weight – making it one of the heaviest living animals capable of flight.
Its range covers most African countries from Ethiopia all the way down south towards South Africa.
The Kori Bustard is omnivorous and feeds on insects, small lizards, seeds, fruit and even carrion if available.
Their feathers are mostly brownish grey while their heads have black stripes running over them which makes them easily identifiable when seen in its natural habitat.
They usually live alone or in pairs during breeding season but will gather into larger groups at other times throughout their lives; typically nesting on dry open grasslands near water sources for easy access to food and drink.Scientific classification:
10. Tawny Eagle
The tawny eagle is a majestic bird of prey that can be found across much of Africa, the Indian subcontinent and rare parts of southern Europe.
It belongs to the Accipitridae family, within the Aquilinae or “booted eagles” subfamily due to its heavily feathered legs.
They have brown plumage with paler underparts which gives them their namesake tawny colouring.
With long wingspans they soar gracefully over open grasslands and deserts in search of small mammals such as hares, rodents and birds for food.
Their loud squawks echo across their habitats while they use powerful talons to snatch up unsuspecting animals below them before enjoying their meal on an exposed perch high above ground level.Scientific classification:
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11. Grey Crowned Crane
The Grey Crowned Crane is a beautiful bird native to eastern and southern Africa. It belongs to the crane family, Gruidae, and its stunning plumage consists of grey feathers topped with golden crowns on their heads.
This species has become Uganda’s national bird due to its gracefulness in flight as well as for being an important part of local cultures across the continent.
The Grey Crowned Crane stands out from other birds not only because of its colorful appearance but also because it performs elaborate mating dances involving leaps, bows, throwing their head back or flapping wings while calling loudly – all in an effort to attract a mate.
In addition to these displays they are highly social animals that form strong bonds with one another and can live up 20 years if given proper care.Scientific classification:
Hornbills are a tropical and subtropical bird species with characteristic long, curved bills. Their English and scientific names both refer to the shape of their bill which resembles that of a cow’s horn.
They have strong beaks for cracking open hard-shelled fruits as well as powerful wings for flying between trees or over great distances in search of food or mates.
Hornbills also feature beautiful plumage ranging from white to black feathers with yellow, brown, red and blue accents on the head, neck and back areas depending on the species.
In addition they often display brightly coloured casques – helmet like structures – atop their upper mandible adding further visual appeal to these majestic birds.Scientific classification:
|Family||Bucerotidae Rafinesque, 1815|
13. Saddle-Billed Stork
The Saddle-billed Stork is a large wading bird from the stork family, Ciconiidae. It can be found in sub-Saharan Africa and some parts of western Africa.
This majestic bird stands out with its striking features – it has an impressive bill that looks like a saddle and bright red legs which contrast against its white plumage on top.
The Saddle-billed Stork’s diet consists mostly of fish, frogs, aquatic invertebrates as well as small reptiles or mammals they come across while scavenging for food in wetland areas.
Sadly, this species is considered endangered in South Africa due to habitat loss and degradation caused by human activities such as drainage projects and agricultural expansion.
We must take action to protect these beautiful creatures before their numbers decrease further.Scientific classification:
14. Lappet-Faced Vulture
The Lappet-faced Vulture is a large bird of prey belonging to the Accipitriformes order. It has an unmistakable look, with its bare head and neck, white body and brown wings.
This species is native to Africa where it can be found in very dry areas such as deserts or semi-deserts. They feed mainly on carrion but they also eat small animals like lizards or rodents if needed.
Their strong bill helps them tear through tough hides while their long legs help them find food easier by allowing them to walk around looking for it instead of relying solely on soaring high up into the sky like other vultures do to locate carcasses from afar.
The Lappet-faced Vulture plays a crucial role in cleaning up carcasses which otherwise would spread diseases quickly throughout African ecosystems.Scientific classification:
|Genus||Torgos Kaup, 1828|
15. Marabou Stork
The marabou stork is a large wading bird native to sub-Saharan Africa. It has an unmistakable appearance, with cloak-like wings and back, skinny white legs and sometimes a large mass of “hair”.
They reside in both wet and arid habitats near human habitation, often found at landfill sites.
This species has earned the nickname ‘undertaker bird’ due to its unique shape viewed from behind.
Despite living alongside humans they remain elusive birds who rarely interact with us but can still be seen gliding on thermals or standing majestically by lakesides.
The marabou stork is truly an impressive sight that will stay in your memory forever.Scientific classification:
16. Bar-Tailed Trogon
The Bar-tailed Trogon is a beautiful bird native to central Africa. It has yellow bill and feet, along with a long and broad tail that is narrowly barred with black and white on the underside.
The male’s head is blue-black in colour while the female’s head is more brownish grey. Its diet consists mainly of insects and fruits, but occasionally it will take small lizards or frogs as well.
This colourful bird typically grows up to 28 centimetres (11 in) in length, making it an impressive sight when seen out in nature.Scientific classification:
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17. Goliath Heron
The Goliath Heron is the world’s largest living heron species, found in sub-Saharan Africa and smaller numbers in Southwest and South Asia. It stands up to 5 feet tall with a wingspan of over 6 feet wide.
Its bill is long and yellowish-orange while its head has white plumes that point backward along its neck. Its back, scapulars, tail feathers are dark gray or black while it has lighter gray wing coverts and primaries.
The body plumage ranges from light grey to brownish grey depending on age; younger birds have more whitish coloration than adults do.
This bird preys on fish as well as amphibians, crustaceans, insects, reptiles and small mammals near water sources such as wetlands or lakesides—it also visits agricultural land for carrion at times.Scientific classification:
18. Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl
Verreaux’s eagle-owl is a magnificent bird that can be found in dry, wooded savannas of sub-Saharan Africa. It is the largest African owl and measures up to 66 cm (26 inches) long.
This majestic creature has grey plumage with white spots on its back and wings, while its face is covered by an impressive facial disk.
Its eyes are yellowish orange in color, surrounded by white feathers which give it a striking appearance.
These birds hunt mostly during the night but may occasionally also do so during daylight hours when food becomes scarce or if they have recently hatched young ones who need feeding.
Verreaux’s eagle-owls live alone or in pairs for much of the year until breeding season comes around after which two eggs will be laid at once and incubated for about 30 days before hatching into fluffy chicks.Scientific classification:
19. Pink-Backed Pelican
The Pink-backed Pelican is a beautiful bird of the pelican family, found in Africa and southern Arabia.
They are resident breeders that inhabit swamps and shallow lakes, but were once seen in Madagascar as well.
It was formally described by German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin back in 1789.
These birds have unique pink feathers on their backs which gives them their name along with grey or white heads with black wing tips.
They use their long beaks to scoop up fish from the water then drain out excess water before swallowing it whole.
The diet of these birds consists mainly of small fish like anchovies, sardines, and other types offish they can find near the surface of rivers or lakes.
With its long wingspan ranging between 2 – 3 feet (60 – 90 cm), this species has adapted perfectly for gliding over bodies of water while searching for prey to eat.Scientific classification:
20. Glossy Ibis
The Glossy Ibis is a water bird that belongs to the family Threskiornithidae. It has an unique bill in the shape of a sickle, which gave it its scientific name – Plegadis falcinellus.
It can be found widely across Europe, Asia and Africa, with scattered nesting sites in warm regions.
Its feathers are black-brown on top and chestnut brown from below; their wings have glossy greenish-purple sheen when seen from afar.
They mainly feed on small insects like grasshoppers, spiders or earthworms as well as crustaceans or amphibians caught while wading through shallow waters.
During breeding season they also consume plant material such as rice grains or corn kernels provided by humans near habitat areas where they nest.Scientific classification:
21. Southern Giant Petrel
The Southern giant petrel is a large seabird native to the southern oceans, and it overlaps broadly with its similar counterpart, the Northern giant petrel.
Adults of both species can be distinguished by their bill-tip color: greenish in the south and yellowish in the north.
The Southern giant petrel also goes by other names such as Antarctic giant petrel, Giant fulmar, Stinker or Stinkpot.
These birds are around 75 cm (30 inches) long on average and have striking white plumage combined with brown wings that give them an impressive appearance while they soar through skies above open waters searching for food like fish, krill and squid – which they can catch up to 100 meters below sea level.Scientific classification:
22. Giant Kingfisher
The Giant Kingfisher is the biggest of its kind in Africa, living and breeding over most parts of the continent excluding arid southwest regions.
It was first formally described by German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas back in 1769 under Alcedo maxima as its binomial name.
Subsequently, it has been placed into a new genus Megaceryle which was named by French ornithologist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot in 1816.
This majestic bird typically measures about 40 cm (15 inches) long with predominantly blue-green plumage on top combined with white breast and belly underneath.
Its bill is large, robust and bright red or orange coloured adding to its striking beauty even further.Scientific classification:
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23. Booted Eagle
The Booted Eagle is a medium-sized bird of prey, typically found in the Palearctic and southern Asia. During winter months they migrate to Africa and Asia’s tropical regions.
A small population also breeds in south western Africa. It belongs to the Accipitridae family which includes all eagles.
Described formally back in 1780, it has an impressive wingspan reaching up to 1 meter across.
With its black tail feathers contrasting against its brown body plumage with white patches on the underside of their wings when seen from below makes for easy identification amongst other birds of prey during flight or perched atop trees or buildings surveying for potential food sources like rodents, insects and even reptiles at times.Scientific classification:
Nightjars are fascinating nocturnal or crepuscular birds belonging to the Caprimulgidae family. These medium-sized birds have long wings, short legs and very small bills.
They can be found across many parts of the world in forests, grasslands and scrubland habitats.
Nightjars feed on insects such as moths, beetles, crickets and cicadas which they catch with their sharp eyesight during night time flights over open fields when hunting for food.
Their scientific name ‘Caprimulgidae’ is derived from an old folktale that claims these birds suck milk from goats.
In reality though, they are harmless creatures who pose no threat to livestock whatsoever.
Nightjars make a variety of different calls ranging from whistles to chirps all throughout the night – adding further mystery to this amazing species.Scientific classification:
|Order||Caprimulgiformes Ridgway, 1881|
|Family||Caprimulgidae Vigors, 1825|
25. Grey Parrot
The Grey Parrot, also known as the Congo grey parrot, is a species of Old World parrots belonging to the family Psittacidae.
It was formally described by Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758.
This bird has an ash-grey plumage with bright red tail feathers and white markings around its eyes and beak.
They are very intelligent birds that can mimic human speech and understand basic commands.
Their diet consists mainly of fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables and insects found in their native African habitat or other tropical regions they inhabit such as rainforests or woodlands.
Grey parrots have become popular pets due to their intelligence and ability to learn complex behaviors like talking back when spoken too.Scientific classification:
26. African Fish Eagle
The African fish eagle is a majestic bird of prey found in sub-Saharan Africa near large bodies of water. It is known by many names in different languages due to its extensive range.
This eagle is the national bird of four African countries, including Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Its scientific name, Haliaeetus vocifer, is fitting because it has a loud, distinctive call that can be heard from quite a distance.
The African fish eagle’s diet consists mainly of fish, which it swoops down to catch with its talons while in flight.
Its distinctive brown and white plumage, hooked beak, and sharp talons make this a formidable and impressive hunter.
The African fish eagle is an important symbol of African wildlife and is admired by bird watchers and nature enthusiasts for its beauty and strength.Scientific classification:
27. Common Ostrich
The common ostrich, also known as Struthio camelus, is a flightless bird and the largest living species of bird in the world.
They are native to specific regions of Africa and are the only living members of their genus, Struthio, in the ratite order of birds.
Another ostrich species, the Somali ostrich, is the only other member of the genus Struthio. Common ostriches are known for their long necks and legs, with their wings being too small for flight.
They have an omnivorous diet, feeding on plants, insects, and small animals.
During mating season, males engage in courtship displays and compete for mates, with the females laying their eggs in a communal nest.
These birds are important ecologically and culturally, but they are also threatened by habitat loss and hunting for their meat, feathers, and skin.Scientific classification:
28. Crowned Eagle
The Crowned eagle, also known as the African crowned eagle or the crowned hawk-eagle is commonly found in sub-Saharan Africa. This bird of prey prefers riparian woodlands and forests.
It is the only living member of the genus Stephanoaetus. Though in Southern Africa, it is limited to eastern areas.
The Crowned eagle is a large bird with impressive hunting skills. They are known to hunt medium-sized mammals like guinea fowl, rabbits, and hares.
The females are larger than the males and have a wingspan of over 6 feet. Their striking appearance and powerful talons make them an important symbol in African cultures.
However, the Crowned eagle is threatened by habitat destruction and hunting, which has resulted in a decrease in their population.
Conservation efforts are underway to protect this impressive bird of prey.Scientific classification: