The Birds of Mountain Elgon National Park, Birding in Uganda

Mountain Elgon National Park inhabits about 144 different bird species and these include the unique Jackson’s francolin, eastern bronze-naped pigeon, Hartlaub’s turaco, Tacazze sunbird and the rare lammergeyer.

At the park are also worldwide endangered species like the Gypaetus barbatus, Stephanoaetus coronatus, Francolinus streptophorus, Sarothrura affinis,Bubo capensis, Glaucidium tephronotum, Indicator conirostris, Phyllastrephus baumanni, Kakamega poliothorax, Sheppardia polioptera,Campephaga quiscalina and Cisticola hunteri, Francolinus jacksoni. Below are some of the birds.

Jackson’s Francolin

Jackson's Francolin in Uganda

The Jackson’s francolin is a bird species found in the Phasianidae family and is prominent in Kenya and Uganda. It inhabits the montane forest vegetation as well as bamboo at Mountain ELgon.

In French it is called Francolin de Jackson, in German Jackson frankolin and in Spanish Francolín de Jackson. It is also referred to as the Jackson’s Spurfowl. They make very loud high pitched series of cackling “grrr” notes and inhabit the alpine zone from 2200 m to 3700 meters feeding on Bulbous roots, berries, small snails, insects and grass shoots.

Eastern bronze-naped pigeon

Eastern Bronze Pigeon in UgandaThe eastern bronze-naped pigeon is a bird species found in the Columbidae family and is prominent in the countries of Angola, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It is also referred to as Pigeon de Delegorgue in French, Bronzehalstaube in German and Paloma de Delegorgue in Spanish.

Voice

Their advertising call is quite intricate with a musical expression beginning with various restrained hoots.

Feeding

It generally feeds on fruits like berries of Trema orientalis, seeds, insect larvae and nymphs of cicadas.

Hartlaub’s turaco

The Hartlaub’s turaco is an exceptionally attractive medium-sized bird with a firm curved bill, short rounded wings and a slightly elongated tail. The adult has a bushy, blue-black crest and a noticeable red eye-ring with a typical white patch directly in front of the eye and a white line beneath the eye.

Tauraco hartlaubi in UgandaThe upper body i.e the neck, mantle, throat and breast is silky green while the lower back includes the folded wings and tail are in sparkling violet-blue.

They have a unique joint which enable them to move forward and backward a feature that enables them to navigate easily and comfortably through thick vegetation. All turacus include this attribute. In French, these are referred to as the Touraco de Hartlaub.

Size

Length: 43 cm

Male weight: 195 g

Female weight: 275 g

Description

Kingdom-Animalia

Phylum-Chordata

Class-Aves

Order-Cuculiformes

Family-Musophagidae

Genus-Tauraco

Habitat

They are fond of inhabiting the thick evergreen forest from 1,500 to 3,200 metres ASL.

Tacazze sunbird

Tacazze Sun bird in Uganda

The Tacazze sunbird is a bird species found in the Nectariniidae family and is prominent in African countries like Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. In French it is referred to as the Souimanga tacazze, Tacazzenektarvogel in German and Suimanga de Tacazzé in Spanish.

Their voice consists of a long twittering “sweet-siuswitterr tseu seet-swirursittii, tsit-tsit-tsit. They inhabit Forest patches and clearings, grassy areas, bamboo, heathland, gardens as well as cultivations.

Feeding

They usually feed on nectar, insects, spiders (Araneae) and mites (Acarina) as well as food from flowers and insects in flight.

Lammergeier

Lammergeiers/ Lammergyers are long winged vultures fond of throwing/ dropping bones on hard rocks so as to smash them and get the marrow.

Lammergyer bird in UgandaThey are one of the world’s old largest vultures with a body length between 1 and 1.2 m (3.25 – 4 ft), a wingspan between 2.3 and 2.8 m (7.5 – 9.2 ft) and weight between 4.5 and 7 kgs (10 – 15 lbs).

They have a fawn colored body and a head with unique grey and black labels on their face. They have vast wings and wedge shaped tails which are grey and black in colour with beard like feathers at the bottom of their bills.

Habitat

These inhabit areas at high elevations like in mountains of Europe, Asia and Africa at altitudes between 300 and 4,500 m (984 – 14,764 ft) despite the fact that they usually occupy areas above 2,000 m (6,562 ft).

 Diet

They mainly feed on carrion and bones which they carry into the air then throw/drop them on rocks below so as to smash them. When the bones have been crushed, they fly downwards so as to feed on the marrow inside.

Predators

Usual ravens, golden eagles and griffon vultures and these mainly prey on the Lammergeier chicks. The Lammergeiers are also referred to as the Bearded Vulture of Lammergeyer.

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