The Shoebill Stork is classified as a giant stork together with Saddle-billed Stork and Marabou Stork. Its taxonomic name is Balaeniceps rex. As mentioned above the Shoebill Stork has a prehistoric look and you can easily picture it together with the dinosaurs. The bird’s most distinct future is its massive bill that has a clog shape and sharp hook at the tip. It is a tall bird measuring around 115 cm.
The Shoebill Stork’s preferred habitat is permanent peaceful swamps where it can be spotted standing watching for fish, wading around or flying slowly above the swamp. It is an ambush feeder that can stand around for a long time in shallow water waiting for prey.
WHERE TO SEE THE SHOEBILL STORK IN UGANDA
Uganda is one of the top locations to see the rare shoebill stork since many of the other locations where it is found are not easy to reach or safe to travel to. The top locations in Uganda to search for the Shoebill Stork are:
- Mabamba Swamp close to Entebbe – Here you commonly go out in a boat with a guide searching the channels in the swamp for the Shoebill Stork and other interesting sights.
- Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary – Here you can either be lucky to spot the shoebill stork from land or go out on a search in a boat.
- The delta of Murchison Falls National Park – Here there is the options to go out in a boat to search for the shoebill or to look for it from the banks.
Since Uganda in some parts is covered in marshes it is also possible to by chance come across a Shoebill Stork in other locations, it even happens that they can be spotted from the highway as you are driving along.
THE EXPERIENCE OF A SHOEBILL STORK SEARCH
In our birding safaris (and other safaris where there is an interest) the most common location to include for a Shoebill Stork search is Mabamba Swamp. This wetland is located a short journey from Entebbe by boat or car so can easily be added in as an extra into any safari itinerary where you are flying in or out from Entebbe. When reaching Mabamba Swamp you are met by a specialised guide who takes you out in the swamp in a small wooden boat. You tour the channels of the swamp in search of the peculiar looking bird and hopefully get a good sighting. At the swamp a birder has the chance to tick off other species like Lesser Jacana, Marsh Harriers, African Pygmy-goose and Whistling Ducks.