Birding at Ziwa
Ziwa Rhino & Wildlife Ranch is a unique conservation area located in Nakasongola District, Uganda. It is home to the only southern white rhinos in Uganda and is an important breeding ground for the endangered species. However, the ranch is not only home to rhinos as it also has a diverse population of birdlife.
In this blog, we will explore ten of the bird species found in Ziwa. There are many other species to be found here. However, we shall only highlight a few as Ziwa is known to contain over 300 species of bird.
The ranch covers an area of approximately 70 square kilometres and is a mix of grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands. These different habitats provide a conducive environment for birdlife to thrive here at the ranch. Some of the bird species that can be found in the ranch include:
The shoebill is a large bird species found in the swampy areas of Ziwa. It is a unique bird with a massive bill that resembles a shoe. (Hence the name). The shoebill is a rare bird species and is considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
2. Grey-crowned Crane
The Grey-crowned Crane is Uganda’s national bird and is found in the grasslands of the ranch. The Grey-crowned Crane really does have a beautiful appearance. It has grey feathers on the upper part of its body and a crown of golden feathers on its head. Ziwa has a special resident crane that is extremely friendly and is seen wondering around the camp. It is always curious about its surroundings and is usually accessible to all.
3. African Fish Eagle
The African Fish Eagle is a large bird of prey found in the wetlands and along the riverbanks of the ranch. The bird is easily identifiable by its white head and dark brown feathers on its body.
4. African Jacana
The African Jacana is a small bird species found in the wetlands of the ranch. It has a unique appearance with long toes that allow it to walk on water lilies without sinking.
5. Pied Kingfisher
The Pied Kingfisher is a small bird species found near the water bodies of the ranch. The bird is an expert fisherman and can often be seen diving into the water to catch fish.
6. African Grey Hornbill
The African Grey Hornbill is a medium-sized bird species found in the woodlands of the ranch. The bird has a unique appearance with a black and white face and a large, curved bill.
7. African Pygmy Kingfisher
The African Pygmy Kingfisher is a small bird species found in the woodlands of the ranch. It has a beautiful appearance with blue and orange feathers on its body.
8. Marabou Stork
The Marabou Stork is a large bird species found in the grasslands and wetlands of the ranch. The bird has a bald head and a long bill that it uses to feed on carrion.
9. White Egret
The Great Egret is a large white bird with a long neck and a yellow bill. It has black and yellow feet. The egret feeds on fish, amphibians, and insects, and it is often found in the wetlands, marshes and ponds.
10. Red-billed Oxpeckers
The cheeky, red-beaked, black feathered bird hitching a ride atop a rhino’s back is an iconic image. Known as an oxpecker, it maintains a symbiotic relationship with Africa’s white and black rhinos. There is even a Swahili name for them,” askari wa kifaru” which means the rhino’s guard.
These birds feast upon the insects, parasites, and ticks that agitate rhinos, liberating the horned giants of these tiny pests. The oxpeckers can themselves sometimes become a nuisance to the rhino’s by over picking at their skin. However, they do also help to serve as an alarm system for the poorly visioned rhino.
The Ziwa Rhino Ranch is home to a diverse population of birdlife. The different habitats in the ranch provide a conducive environment for the various bird species found there. Visitors to Ziwa can enjoy watching these birds in their natural habitat and learn more about their behaviours and unique characteristics.
Shoebill tours in a canoe along the swamp are available every day in the early hours of the morning. This is when you are most likely to spot them before they find shelter from the midday sun. Lead on foot by our experienced rangers, Ziwa also offers birding tours. The ranch is an excellent destination for birdwatching enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.