Shoebill

The Shoebill, or Balaeniceps rex, is one of Africa's most unique and sought-after birds. It inhabits extensive permanent swamps in the Great Lakes Region, spanning from South Sudan to Zambia, with a few scattered records further west and south. Ranging from 100-140 cm in length and 4-7 kg in weight, the Shoebill is a massive, slow-moving, stork-like bird. The huge and powerful bill is perfectly adapted for striking and crushing lungfish and other wetland vertebrates. Many have commented that it is prehistoric looking, a quality I think is better encapsulated by its alternative common name, the Whalehead. Uganda is the most likely country in which to see a Shoebill, although you are only guaranteed a sighting of one at the zoo in Entebbe. While their distribution is widespread, access to the Shoebill's habitat can be challenging and typically requires a boat or dugout canoe. Mbamba Swamp on the northwest fringe of Lake Victoria is the easiest and most reliable site in Uganda, followed by the delta region of Murchison Falls National Park.




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