The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is home to approximately 1,185 known species of birds. Out of these species, 21 are endemic, three are rare, and 32 are threatened globally. This number is probably the highest species count among the African countries. The Congo Peacock, Lake Lufira weavers, and Schouteden's swift are among the endemic birds of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Congo Peacock (Afropavo congensis)
The Congolese commonly refer to this bird as the 'mbulu'. They display the characteristics of both the peafowl and the guinea fowl. The males grow to up to 70 centimeters in length. Their feathers are bronze-green on the upper parts, black on the under parts and blue on the breast and the tail. Their throats are bare and red-skinned, and the feet are gray. The crown has dense white bristles and darker feathers behind. The female bird grows up to 63 centimeters. They are chestnut brown, with metallic green upper parts and a russet crest. The bird mainly feeds on fruits and insects. They are also monogamous with each male having one female. They live in pairs and small groups that defend their territory. They lay a clutch of one to four eggs in a scrape or on a hollow ground and incubate them for 28 days. The male guards the nest and the female just leaves shortly to feed. Both parents help in rearing the chicks by brooding, protecting and feeding them. They live in thick rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo with some small populations found in other countries like Belgium. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the bird as vulnerable. It faces threats of habitat loss, small population size, and hunting pressure. The Democratic Republic of the Congo conserves the species through captive breeding programs.
Congo Bay-Owl (Phodilus prigoginei)
These are beautiful birds 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. They produce long and mournful whistle voices.They live in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and others found in Burundi and Rwanda. Their habitats are tropical montane forests and grasslands. The IUCN classifies the birds as endangered due to habitat loss. The government has gazetted Itombwe forest where the population exists as a natural reserve. Other conservation actions and research about the bird are underway.
Lake Lufira Weaver (Ploceus ruweti)
These birds have black face "masks", which cover their foreheads, crowns, cheeks, and throats. They have a large yellow patch on the neck and a green streaking on the mantle. Their voices are wheezing notes that end with short tat-tat sound. They feed mainly on seeds and young insects. They are polygamous birds, and each male has several nests. They like breeding near the lakes but sometimes they move away after breeding. They mostly inhabit swamps at the east of the country. Some populations are found in other countries like Zambia and Tanzania. This species do not face threats of extinction. More research about the bird is still underway.
Yellow-crested Helmetshrike (Prionops alberti)
Birds of the Yellow-crested Helmetshrike species grow to around 20 centimeters in length. They are black birds with bright golden crests. They have musical voices with double notes. They live in mountain ranges of Lake Edward, Kivu, Itombwe, and Kabongo. Their populations are declining especially due top forest degradation. Organizations such as WWF, WCS, and ARCOS work with the Institute of Conservation in Congo (ICC) to create community reserves, conduct youth education, and collaboration with local authorities to limit degradation.
Conservation of Birds in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Also among the notable endemic birds of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are Chapin's babbler, Rockefeller's Sunbird, Prigogine's greenbul, Schouteden's swift, and Bedford's paradise flycatcher. The Democratic Republic of the Congo faces a great deal of hunting of of its native fauna for bush meat, a practice which involves birds as well as other kinds of animals. Also, the greater need for cultivation and development of agriculture cause pressure to the habitats of avian fauna, increasingly threatening their existence. The government, however, is trying to put measures in place to curb these threats, including developing natural reserves, national parks, and conservation areas to protect the birds from population declines.