The Shoebill Stock & Where to find it

Uganda’s special bird

The Shoebill Stock , Uganda is home to an outstanding array of wildlife from mammals, primates, reptiles together with a rich profusion of over 1000 bird species. The opportunity of sighting birds in the “The pearl of Africa” is endless choosing from places like national parks, reserves, forests, communities, swamps among others. Uganda among is among the few countries where you also find the rare and unique Shoebill stock and fox’s weaver.

The shoebill stock, scientific name Balaeniceps rex is an impressive ancient bird species that is a must see for every bird lover who visits Uganda. The shoebill  also called the “King whale-head” because of the size of its head that is simply ginormous. Arabs referred to it as the “Abu Maruk” meaning of the shoe. It is a huge bird found mainly found in the East Africa and South Sudan. The shoebill stock is work of art most especially if viewed up close.

The shoebill stock is quite the stunner with its magnificent pre-historic looks. This definitely gets it to the list of the world’s unique birds. Despite primarily living near water and feeding off it. The shoebill stock does not have webbed feet like other aquatic birds.

About The Shoebill Stock

The shoebill stock has a graceful glide in the air because if its wide wingspan, also drawing its head and neck backwards. Their lazily moves on ground and their ability to stand still for longer periods of time makes them resemble statues.

It has chalky grey belly area with flashes of grey and darker grey cloudlike plumage, mysterious golden eyes, a brown mouthpiece with traces of grey.

They have a shoe-like mandible hence the name shoebill stock, with a sharp bend adapted to shredding its food for easy digestion. The upper mandible sharp nail-like ending that helps it to tightly grab onto slippery prey.

The shoebill lays about 1-3 eggs and the parents share the incubating duties. It is the responsibility of both parents to maintain them moist by regularly watering them most especially in the dry season. The eggs take 300 days to hatch, fed by the parents up to 125 days and then it is the chick to fend for its self.  The solitary one of kind bird can live to see 50 or more years.

Their nests are built on floating vegetation more especially reeds and papyrus swamps and in overspill areas where water is flowing slowly so that the birds can easily grab a meal. They tend to hide in dense vegetation away from prying eyes. Their breeding seasons in Uganda normally commences towards rain season.

The shoebill feeds on mostly fish such as lungfish, other aquatic life including frogs, water snakes, eels, baby crocodiles, lizards and so forth. They have the amazing ability to stand stalk still in water waiting for their prey. There hunting skills of freeze and seize enables them to capture their meal with less difficulty.

The shoebill is are diurnal and occasionally hunt at night if the moonlight is bright enough. It is a solitary peaceful bird that prefers to live and feed alone. In fact, the only time males are seen with females is during mating.

They are the silent bunch which is a trait that helps them capture their prey unaware. However, they do some in cases make bill-clapping noises, high-pitched whining when communicating.

They are the patient type witnessed in the way they wait for their prey even if takes the whole day.  It has a habit of urinating on its legs so that as the urine evaporates, the bird can remain cool.

Places from where to see shoebills in Uganda include

  • The Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park.
  • Lake Edward
  • Murchison falls national park
  • Ziwa Rhino reserve
  • Lake Kyoga
  • Semliki wildlife reserve
  • Mabamba swamp
  • Nabujuzi swamp


We offer unique travel experiences that combine the thrill of adventure with a deep appreciation for nature. Our company’s name reflects how we turn our clients’ interests into exciting expeditions through historical trails and destinations.

Ready To Plan A Trip?

Do not hesitage to give us a call. We are an expert team and we are happy to talk to you.

+256 781 611986