Rwanda’s Albertine Rift Endemic Birds : African grey parrot – The white-headed olive-back bird named Kiguwa is the national bird of Rwanda. It was discovered by a French explorer in 1894 in the forests of the Akagera National park. It inhabits dense, thorny forest patches throughout the country. It feeds on seeds and fruits. It is closely related to the African grey parrot which can be found in other parts of Africa. The African grey parrot lives in trees, feeding on fruits and seeds. Both species have many similarities and are in the same genus. They can imitate human speech and are also trained to sing songs in different languages. They are also intelligent and can be taught to do many tricks and tasks. An African grey parrot can live for up to 70 years in captivity.

Red-fronted bee-eater – The red-fronted bee-eater is found in the forests of the Albertine Rift of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It feeds mainly on insects and flies. It has yellow and blue plumage with reddish feathers on the forehead and throat. Its feet are orange-yellow and it has a yellow beak. The Red-fronted Bee-eater breeds in dense thickets of bamboo, canebrakes and other woody vegetation in mountain forest regions of eastern DRC and western Rwanda during the dry season. They are only active during the day. They build nests on top of trees and the female lays eggs that are incubated by both parents. Once the chicks have hatched the parents feed them with a regurgitated mixture of insects and small lizards caught while foraging for food during the day. The young birds leave their nest after about 10 days and learn how to forage for insects on their own before they fledge from the nest after about two weeks.

African gray parrots belong to the genus Psittacus and the species Psittacus erithacus. They are native to tropical parts of Africa but can also be found in some parts of Europe, the Middle East and Asia. They spend most of their time in trees but have come down to the ground to feed on seeds or berries or to catch an insect when there are no seeds or berries to eat.

Rwanda's Albertine Rift Endemic Birds
African grey parrot

Another unique bird in the Albertine rift is the shoebill stork. Shoebills have a long beak and large shoe-shaped bill which is almost two feet long. The bill is made of thick keratin (the same substance as human fingernails) which makes it very strong and hard-wearing. Shoebills live in lowland swamps and marshes in large flocks of up to several thousand individuals. The adults have pale grey-brown plumage with a black-and-white pattern on the head and neck, Rwanda’s Albertine Rift Endemic Birds.

Handsome Francolins have a striking appearance with the males having brown plumage with a black throat patch and long chestnut crest on its head. They have black legs and a cream-coloured belly. Females are similar in appearance to males but have a duller coloration on the body and lack the crest. The call of the handsome Francolin is a high-pitched whistling sound and is a common sound to be heard in many forests in Rwanda, Rwanda’s Albertine Rift Endemic Birds.

These are some of the fascinating species of birds that can be seen in the Albertine Rift region of western Rwanda and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Be sure to keep an observant eye out for them on your next Rwanda safari tour.

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