Shoebill stork Uganda birding safaris: Uganda is truly gifted by nature. It is one of the best birding destinations in Africa and the world at large. With a trusted company such as Explore Rwanda Tours organizing customized birding safaris in Uganda and Rwanda, visitors are set to have the most adventurous time of your life during your birding tour in Uganda. Uganda alone has an estimated bird population of about 1063 unique bird species, which occupy an area as large as Great Britain.

The shoebill stork is among one of the most highly sought after bird species in Uganda by birding tourists in the country. other commonly sought after bird species during a birding safari in Uganda include; the Nahans francolin, African green broadbill, Purcell’s illadopsis, the Karamoja Apalis, the Red fronted ant pecker, Ruwenzori Turaco, and Brown chested pullover to mention but a few.

With Uganda having about 1000 Shoebill storks, this bird species has made top of the list for many birders during their Uganda birding safari. Visitors interested in viewing the Shoebill stork in Uganda during a birding safari can visit the following places;

The Ishasha Sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Birding Safaris in Uganda are best done in the Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The national park has a record number of about 600 bird species. Located in Kasese district, Queen Elizabeth National Park is an ideal place for one to see the Shoebill stork in its natural habitat. The Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park is commonly known for its tree climbing lions and for its rich base of various wildlife animals such as antelopes, impala, topi and so many more. There are also other bird species that you will spot in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park and these include; the Black-billed Barbet, Red-necked Falcon, African skimmer, Abyssinian Ground, and the Yellow-fronted Tinker bird to mention but a few.

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

Shoebill storks can also be easily seen in the Bigodi wetland sanctuary, located just outside Kibale National Park. The Bigodi swamp shelters about 138 bird species such as; the Grand Blue Turaco, the Yellow-spotted Barbet, Hairy-breasted Barbet, White-spotted Fluff tail, Western Nicator, Grey-winged Robin Chat, and the Black-crowned Waxbill among others. Birders visiting Bigodi have an opportunity to see other wildlife like; red colobus monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, Sitatunga, mongoose, bush pigs, otters, and bush bucks among others.

Shoebill stork Uganda birding safaris
Shoe Bill stork in Bigodi Wetland


Shoebill stork tours in Mabamba swamp

The Shoebill stork can also be sighted in Mabamba Swamp in Entebbe along Lake Victoria. Mabamba Swamp is known to have a quite a large population of shoe bill storks, and over 300 other bird species. Bird lovers on a Uganda birding safari can sight shoebill storks in Mabamba swamp hunting for prey in the thick marshlands. The best time to spot these shoebills is early in the morning as they parade in the swamp close to Lake Victoria in search of food. However, any take of the day also opens up opportunities to watch them as long as you visit Mabamba wetland.


Other bird species seen on Mabamba swamp alongside shoebill stork include Blue swallow, White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Pallid Harrier, Goliath Herons, Blue Swallow, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Papyrus Gonolek, Pygmy Geese, Carruthers’s Cisticola,  Spur-winged White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Canary, Northern Brown-throated weaver, Gull-billed Terns, yellow-backed weaver, Whiskered Terns, White-winged Black Terns, Grey-headed Gulls, Blue-headed Cauca, Malachite kingfisher and many more.

Sighting the Shoebill Stork in Murchison Falls National Park.

Murchison Falls National Park is another great place for visitors to see the Shoebill stork during a birding safari in Uganda. The national park is located in the northern part of Uganda, in the districts of Masindi, Packwach, Nwoya, Kiryandongo, and Buliisa. Other bird species commonly sighted in the park include; Black-billed barbet, Goliath heron, Swamp flycatcher,  Malachite kingfisher, Fish eagles, king fishers, Bee eaters, Abyssinian ground hornbill, Blue-headed Cauca, Speckle-fronted weaver, Grey crowned crane, Silver bird,  Palm-nut vulture, White-browed sparrow-weaver among others

Lake Mburo National Park.

The shoebill stork can also be sighted in Lake Mburo National Park during a birding tour in Uganda. The national park is located in Mbarara district, in the western part of Uganda. Other birds to watch in lake Mburo alongside shoebill include blue Kingfishers, Yellow-throated Long claw, African-grey Hornbill, African Fish Eagle, Black-winged Bishop, Grey Woodpeckers, Goliath heron, Rufous-chested Swallow, Pink-backed Pelicans among others.

Shoebill stork Uganda birding safaris
Shoebill stork in Lake Mburo National Park

Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve.

The Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve near Semuliki National Park in Uganda is also a good spot for visitors to view the Shoebill stork during a birding safari in the country. The best way for birders to view the shoebill stork in Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve is by taking a boat cruise on Albert to encounter a good number of them along the shores. Other bird species seen in Toro- Semliki reserve include; Red throated bee-eaters, Abyssinian ground hornbill, Pennant-winged nightjar, African pygmy goose, Green wood-hoopoe, Blue-breasted bee-eater, Broad-billed roller, Double-toothed barbet, Red-throated bee-eater, Mustached grass-warbler, Standard-winged nightjar, Black-billed barbet, Red-necked falcon among others

View the Shoebill stork in Ziwa Rhino sanctuary

The Shoebill stork can also be best seen at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary which is located about 125 kilometers from Murchison Falls National Park. The sanctuary is famous for being the only destination in Uganda where tourists can see Rhinos in the wild. Visitors who wish to sight the rare shoebill stork at the sanctuary will have to take a boat ride to Lugogo swamp. Aside from sighting the shoebill stork, visitors can also spot other bird species such as; the Curlew Sandpiper, African Paradise Flycatcher, the Black-winged Bishop, Barred Warbler, Blue-naped Mouse Bird, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Grey-backed Fiscal Shrike, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove and so many more.

In short: Birding safaris in Uganda are one of the assured tours in the country where visitors, and bird lovers in particular, are granted to sight the rare shoebill stork in Uganda. Birding tours in Uganda are usually long trips and take a whole day, thus birders are advised to take lots of mineral water to keep hydrated during the trip.

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