Scientifically referred to as Podica senegalensis, the African fin foot is noted to be a water dwelling bird Species thriving in the lakes and rivers of Sub Saharan Africa including Uganda where it is explored on birding safaris in Uganda.
The African Finfoot is famous underwater specialist bird featuring a
long neck, bright red and lobed feet and a striking sharp beak. The
plumage of African finfoot varies by race and is generally pale
underneath while the top is dark. The males are usually darker than the
females and it somehow looks like the torrent duck of South America.
Regarding the Habitat, the African finfoot is distributed in various
habitats across the continent of Africa in places where there are
streams, lakes and rivers with good cover. This habitat range features
wooded savannah, the forest, flooded forest and the mangrove swamps.
These Species thrive more in the woodland savanna and forested
landscapes along the streams that are permanent with dense growth of
Syzygium guineese along with distinct reaches of thick wooded rivers,
pool edges, dams and lakes with adequate vegetation along their banks
especially with reeds and branches that are overhanging and the dense
beds of papyrus that might be far from the shore. The African fin foot
tend to avoid stagnant or the water that is flowing faster.
African fin foot thrives on aquatic invertebrates that feature both
adults and larval mayflies, crustaceans, dragonflies along with snails,
amphibians and fish. The African fin foot is greatly opportunistic and
can take the prey straight from the surface of the water. They are
skillful and can forage on the river banks as well.
finfoot is notably sedentary and nests in lonely territorial pairs and
its breeding season is dependent on the water levels available. They
build a breeding nest which is flat with loose structure of twigs and
reeds that are built 1 – 4m high over water either on flood debris mass
or the fallen branches or on a horizontal branch and over hanging tree
limb as encountered on Uganda safaris.
They lay two (2) eggs which are primarily incubated by the females. The
chick leaves the nest just a few days following their hatching.
can be noted that their elusive behavior make them a great sighting
even to an all seasoned ornithologists even those that have always
encountered in Lake Mburo National Park on birding safaris to Uganda.
Regarding the conservation and status, it can be noted that the Species
status is difficult to determine considering their elusive state. The
African finfoot is not regarded as threatened because it is not under
persecution or a target to the hunters and despite its scarcity, it is
spread widely. But the belief that this Species might become threatened
since the wetlands are being cleared and the water courses continue to
be polluted. It is also believed that African fin foot can tolerate a
minimal disturbance. Apparently, there are no populations of African fin
foots in captivity.