The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) hosts over 1185 popular avian species. 21 of which are endemic, 3 unique ones and about 32 are threatened internationally. This is probably the highest population of birds on recorded in African states. It houses several of water birdlife, ground birds, preys, fruit eaters, hole nesters and passerines as well as the endemic avian species that can only be sighted in this remarkable country. This birders paradise comes with numerous endemic species that you can see on a safari in Congo and here are the 5 endemic species to look out for;
The Congo peafowl/peacocks (Afropavo Congensis),
A green winged ground feeder that stays deep in the jungles of the Congo basin. It is commonly known by the Congolese as the “Mbulu.” They display the characteristics of both peafowl and the guinea fowl hence its name. The males grow up to 70 centimeters in length. The feathers are bronze green on the upper parts, black on the under sides and blue on the breast and the tail. The throats are bare and red skinned and the feet are gray. The crown contains white bristles and darker feathers behind. The females grow about 63 centimeters. They are chestnut brown, with metallic green upper parts and a russet crest. These birds are fruit and insect dwellers. They are also monogamous with each male having one female. They stay in pairs and small groups which defend their territory. They lay a clutch of 1 to 4 eggs in a scrape/on a hollow ground and incubate them for 28 days. The males protect the nest and the females just leave shortly to feed. Both parents assist in keeping the chicks by brooding, safeguarding and feeding them. They stay in dense rainforests of DRC with some small number in other states like Belgium. The IUCN lists the bird as vulnerable. It encounters threats of habitat loss, small population size and hunting pressure. The DR Congo protects the species via captive breeding programs.
Congo bay owl (Phodilus prigoginei)
A small owl staying in the east, stunning bird with chestnut brown feathers. Their upper parts are rusty brown and the under parts are orange. They have a compact and oval face with dark eyes. These remarkable species produce long and mournful whistle voices. They stay in Eastern DR Congo while others are in Burundi and Rwanda. Their habitats are tropical montane forests and grasslands. The IUCN listed these rare species as endangered as result of habitat loss. The government has gazetted Itombwe forest where the population exists as a natural reserve. Other conservation actions and research on the birds are also underway.
Lake Lufira Weaver (Ploceus ruweti)
These avian species have black face “masks” that cover their foreheads, crowns, cheeks and throats. They have a large yellow patch on the neck and a green streaking on seeds on the mantle. Their voices are wheezing notes which end with short tat-tat sound. They seed and insect dweller and they polygamous birds and every male have many nests. They love breeding around Lakes but sometimes they leave after breeding. They mainly inhabit swamps in Eastern DRC. Some populations also exist in the other states especially Zambia and Tanzania. These species are not threatened.
Yellow crested Helmets shrike (Prionopsalberti)
These avian species grow up to 20 centimeters in length. They are black birds with bright golden crests. They have musical voices with double notes. They stay in mountain ranges of Lake Edward, Kivu, Kabongo and Itombwe. Their numbers are reducing mostly because of high forest degradation. Organizations like World Wide Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society and African Rural Community Shepherd work with the Institute of Conservation in Congo (ICC) to create community reserves, conduct youth education and collaboration with local authorities to limit degradation.
In conclusion, there are also other notable endemic birds of the DR Congo include Chapin’s babbler, Rockefeller’s Sunbird, Schouteden’s swift, Prigogine’s greenbul and Bedford’s paradise flycatcher. Democratic Republic of Congo encounters a lot of hunting. The native fauna for bush meat, a practice that comprises involves birds and other types of wildlife. Not to forget the need for cultivation and development of agriculture that has brought a lot of pressure to the habitats of bird species thereby threatening their lives. However, the government is doing its best to curb down these threats including developing natural reserves, national parks and conservation areas to conserve the birds from population extinction.