Papyrus Gonolek Interesting Facts, Photos: On any bird watching tour in Uganda, one is likely to see the shy papyrus gonolek. Although common, it is not easy to see as it skulks with great skill. This in addition to its bold patterns makes it one of the most sought after birds in Uganda.
The papyrus gonolek is a bird in the family Malaconotidae. Scientific name is Laniarius mufumbiri. It is a bush shrike with bold patterns and of medium size. It is just 18cm (7 Inches) long.
Below are some interesting facts about it:
- For most bird species, the sexes always look different but not so for the papyrus gonolek. The sexes are similar, with a dull yellow crown. The head, upper parts, wings and tail are black. The wings have a broad white bar. The breast and upper body have bright colors in orange-crimson. Lower belly is whitish. Juveniles are duller with orange under parts and gray crowns.
- Habitat Specifications: Just as its name alludes, the papyrus gonolek has specialist habitat requirements, being restricted to papyrus swamps in river systems and around lakeshores.
- This beautiful bird is rather shy. It is always lurking among the dense papyrus vegetation. It only flies occasionally and usually for a short distance, over water to another patch of papyrus. This makes it very difficult to observe.
- These beautiful birds occur singly or in pairs, in papyrus swamps.
- The bird’s presence often detected by its calls that consist of brief whistles and grating tearing sounds. Males give ringing chock-chonk or wi-onk notes, often in rhythmical (up and down) series. The female gives a low ratchet (harsh) chh-t-chh call, which sometimes accompanies the male vocalizations in a duet-like musical.
Diet: What does the papyrus gonolek eat? Diet consists mainly of insects, flies, ants and beetles. It may also include snails, seeds and fruit when available.
Need to know: Interesting Facts
- The Papyrus Gonolek named by Ogilvie Grant in 1911
- Similar to the Black Headed Gonolek; but the bright yellow cap and white bar on the papyrus gonolek wings set them apart
- The bird has specific habitat requirements; always restricted to papyrus swamps. However, degradation of these swamps (through pollution, drainage) threatens its existence.
- Because of its shy nature, little is known of its breeding phases. But females probably lay 2-4 eggs, in nests built on reed beds
Where to see the Papyrus gonolek:
The papyrus gonolek is found in most East African countries of Uganda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. In Uganda, the best place to see this colorful bird is Mabamba Swamp.
Currently the bird is listed as a near-threatened species. Habitat loss (drainage of wetlands) environmental degradation and pollution are some of the threats to its continued existence.
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