A visitor from the forest

In the mornings in Kampala, I was usually greeted by the endearing cackling of eastern plantain eaters, a squawk or two from some egrets and maybe a call from a local marabou stork that had perched itself on the top of the roof. However when the Ross’ Turaco comes to visit- you know it is going to be a special day.

My blinds are drawn wide open as usual, and I am getting ready for work. I sense someone is watching- but who today? There is a curious Ross’ turaco, sporting a clearly distinctive hairstyle, peering back at me.

Usually found in forested woodlands in dense foliage, this bluish-purple bird is a sight to be seen. Photographing in dark areas is already difficult- let alone a speeding subject in dark conditions, which makes it even harder. So it was truly a treat when I saw this one perched in the morning light on an open branch, right outside my bedroom window.

With a couple of toes that are pointed backwards to ensure better gripping around branches, these beautiful and vibrant birds scurry along branches, seemingly sometimes, as though they have 4 legs. They almost sound as if they do too- their deep calls are likened to a monkey’s. They love fruit, and I left some banana slices out on the balcony railing that day, though it didn’t appeal to their palate it seemed. They probably flew back to the faraway forests before long, away from the maddening crowds and the chaos of the city. If I were a bird, I would do exactly the same.

Here’s to the birds who remain mostly hidden in the canopies of dark jungles and forests, fraternising with the mountain gorillas- but sometimes do show themselves. And when they do, we can see what beauties they truly are.


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