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Kampala’s stork splatterings

March 16th, 2010 by · 2 Comments · Africa, Uganda

New York has the ubiquitous pigeon, Kampala has Marabou storks. Uganda’s stately birds reach the height of a six year old stumbling around in a tattered waiter’s suit while the wing spans almost nine feet.

Resembling old men in contemplation, the birds keep a tight eye on the patrons in the nation’s capital from telephone poles, lamp posts and tall ficus trees. Perched above, five squirm on a branch and the slightest movement causes a storm of debris. To my right three more compete for space, one stretch and the last in line is pushed from the cue.

Thanks to Amin’s history of 20+ years of civil war, leaving carnage and waste in his wake, these urban dwellers are only recent additions to the topography. Bald heads free from debris, their beaks long and narrow were once reserved for plucking fish from the sea, now they brunch on carrion and trash heaps. Looking like prehistoric relatives of the teradactyl dinosaur, the condor is actually its cousin. Its majestic flight appears in slow motion overhead, a bit drunk as they circle around looking for a landing strip.

An early Sunday stroll and the storks are out in droves, commandeering metal trash bins, slow and methodical, picking out the tastiest morsels. A bird of such proportions leaves in its wake an equal size turd. While one can hop around New York’s sidewalk, landscaped with pigeon art, it pales in comparison to Kampala’s stork splatterings.

As mercury rises, the massive birds cool by defecating down their long, spindly legs. We estimated a few hundred overhead, dodging the immediate dangers, but rumor has it, flocks can grow to ten thousand, now that’s a lot of guano.


  • April 28th, 2010 by mom

    I am getting a history and geography class with your web site.
    Thanks. Miss you guys too.

  • April 24th, 2010 by Carey

    9 foot wingspans!!?? Wow. The pictures are amazing. The textual descriptions even more so! Check please!! Stay dry! xo

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