To you and other people it may be the Pearl of Africa; to me Uganda is a Paradise on Earth. A country with over 1061 species of birds (10% of the World’s species of birds) can never run short of surprises. Every corner of the country has something to offer and not only that, the country has everything you would ever wish in a destination. When it comes to bird species, you will be totally amazed and surprised by what you will see in the Pearl of Africa. Most interestingly, you will be able to sight some of the birds of prey within the country. Uganda is a haven to over 90 species of Raptors also known as birds of prey and they range from the small Pygmy Falcons within Kidepo Valley National Park and the Northern region to the great Crowned Eagles found within the tropical rainforests.
Owls are one of the common birds of prey and are sub-divided into 18 species within Uganda and range from the giant Pel’s fishing Owls to the small African scops owls. What all the birds of prey have in common is that they attack and kill their victims (prey) with their gripping feet made up of long sharp talons.
Vultures are also birds of prey although are carrion eaters whereby some of the typical attributes and characteristics of birds of prey (eating flesh) have died out. For instance, the Palm-nut vultures consume palm-nut just as their name suggests.
One of the common species of buzzards is the Red-necked Buzzard, medium-sized migrant birds that sometimes visit the North-western side of Uganda especially from December to March although are rarely seen within East Africa. Nonetheless, they have wider geographical habitats from Mauritania (South of Angola), Central Ethiopia and in Uganda they are found in the North-west of the country, especially within Otzi East Forest Reserve, west of the White Nile. These exceptional birds prefer forest edges, woodlands, secondary forests and farmlands, and feed on mainly birds, reptiles and small mammals. They were listed as being birds of least concern under IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species because of habitat loss. Other Buzzard species include the Steppe buzzards, Lizard buzzard, Honey buzzards and the Grasshopper Buzzards among others.
There are over 20 species of Eagles in Uganda and the common ones include the crowned eagle (scientifically known as Stephanoaetus coronatus) and are considered the most charismatic of all the Eagle species. They are always cunning and clever when it comes to hunting. For instance, the female will fly above the forest canopies calling and diverting the attention of monkeys whereas the aggressive males surprise the victim by grabbing the monkeys with the claws thereby killing it.
The Martial eagles scientifically known as Polemaetus bellicosus are the savannah cousins of the crowned eagles but are larger yet weaker. Their prey always includes smaller antelopes like oribis, mongoose, young warthogs, monitor lizards and vervet monkeys.
Other species of eagles include the stunning Bateleur and the long crested eagles among others.
Falcons are also species of raptors/birds of prey and some of their sub-species include the fast Peregrine falcons, the beautiful Grey Kestrel with an all grey but dark yellow facial skin. The shy Red-necked falcons are common with Murchison Falls National Park
One fascinating fact about majority of Uganda’s raptors is that they from as far as Europe (such as the steppe Buzzard, Booted eagles, Honey Buzzard and Osprey among others), from South Africa, Egypt, Tanzania and Somalia.
Other species of raptors or birds of prey in Uganda include the Bat Kites, the African Goshawk and the Lizard Buzzard among others. Therefore a Uganda birding safari will introduce you to these and other birds of prey.