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Republic of Zimbabwe

Kestrel
Dickinson's Kestrel Falco dickinsoni ©Dylan Vasapolli Website

Birding Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is home to over 700 species of birds, the majority of which are easily accessible by vehicle, boat or on foot. The best time to visit is October to March as most of the Palaearctic and intra-african migrants are present. However, the cooler and dryer months of May to August will enable the keen spotter to concentrate on local species. There are some small companies in the country specialising in bird safaris, and about 8-10 knowledgeable bird guides country-wide. The country can be split into 4 major areas, each with its own population of birds - as below:

Montane & Eastern Border Blue-spotted Dove, Scarce Swift, Stripe-cheeked Bulbul, Swynnerton's Robin, Chirinda Apalis, Moustached Warbler, Singing Cisticola, Short-winged Cisticola, Red-winged Warbler, Briar (Robert's) Warbler, White-tailed Flycatcher, Black-fronted Bush Shrike, Bronze Sunbird, Yellow-bellied Sunbird, Fire-crowned Bishop, Red-faced Crimsonwing, East African Swee.

Zambezi Valley Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Long-toed Plover, Rock Pratincole, African Skimmer, Lilian's Lovebird, White-browed Coucal, Collared Palm Thrush, Livingstone's Flycatcher.

Central Plateau Streaky-breasted Flufftail, Black Coucal, Spotted Creeper, Pink-throated Longclaw, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, Violet-backed Sunbird, & Locust Finch.

Western Kalahari Burchell's Sandgrouse, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Bradfield's Hornbill, Pied Babbler, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Yellow-billed Oxpecker.

Country-wide (southern-African birds centred in Zimbabwe) Taita Falcon, Grey-headed Parrot, Pel's Fishing Owl, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Mottled Swift, Mottled Spinetail, Bohm's Spinetail, Slender-billed Honeyguide, Mosque Swallow, Eastern Saw-wing Swallow, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Northern Grey Tit, Miombo Rock Thrush, Arnot's Chat, Boulder Chat, Mashona Hyliota, Red-faced Crombec, Tropical Boubou, Long-tailed Starling, Lesser Blue-eared Starling, Coppery Sunbird, Yellow White-eye, Yellow-backed Widow, Golden-backed Pytilia, Red-throated Twinspot, Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, Black-eared Canary, Cabanis's Bunting.

Northwest Triangle (Victoria Falls) Slaty Egret, Schalow's Lourie, Copperytailed Coucal, Swamp (Natal ssp) Nightjar, White-rumped (Hartlaub's) Babbler, Greater Swamp Warbler, Luapula (Black-backed ssp) Cisticola, Chirping Cisticola, Marsh (Cape ssp) Wagtail, Swamp Boubou, Burchell's Starling, Brown-throated Weaver, Red-shouldered Whydah, Brown Firefinch, and at certain times of the year Pygmy Goose, Lesser Jacana, Longbilled (Ethiopian ssp) Snipe, Rock Pratincole, African Skimmer, Shelley's Sunbird, and Redheaded Quelea.

Chris Pollard (e-mail: chrispy@telcovic.co.zw snail-mail: PO Box CT534 Chinotimba, Victoria Falls; cellphone: 263-(0)91-364875) has been in the Victoria Falls area since 1978 and, having retired from other employment, concentrates on studying birds there and takes great pleasure in introducing them to visitors.

As can be seen from the list above, most of the special Okavango species can be seen easily at Kazungula swamp - a private safari area - west of Victoria Falls and at less cost in money and time than travelling to Okavango, - between 200-300 species have been noted there each month. Bookings for a day visit to the swamp or to stay at the up-market camp can be made with Chris or through the owners at wildhori@samara.co.zw.

The Victoria Falls area of about 2500 sq. km boasts a bird-list now exceeding 450 species annually and the Hwange National Park is 100 km south of Victoria Falls where there are other species not found further north.

Whilst the rest of the country has some security problems at present, they do not affect the northwest. Regional flights from international destinations can be made direct to Victoria Falls or Livingstone (Zambia); and the area of northwest Zimbabwe, southern Zambia and northeastern Botswana is within easy and safe access from these two airports.

Contributor

Chris Pollard

cpollard@mweb.co.zw

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 694

(As at September 2018)

National Bird: African fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocoder

Checklist

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iGoTerra Checklist

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Useful Reading

Newman's Birds of Southern Africa

By Kenneth B Newman, Faansie Peacock & vanessa Newman | Random House Struik | 2010 | Paperback | 536 pages, plates with colour illustrations; colour photos, colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9781770078765

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa

By Phil AR Hockey, W Richard J Dean & Peter G Ryan | Jacana Publishers | 2006 (2018 Re-print) | Hardback | 1296 pages, 80 colour plates, maps, keys |

ISBN: 0620340533

Buy this book from NHBS.com

SASOL Birds of Southern Africa

(4th Edition) | Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboton, Peter G Ryan, Norman Arlott & Peter Hayman | Random House Struik | 2014 | Paperback | 464 pages, plates with colour illustrations; colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9781775840992

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Southern African Birdfinder

[Where to find 1400 bird species in southern Africa and Madagascar] | By Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode & Jonathan Rossouw | New Holland Publishers | 2006 | Paperback | 456 pages, 80 col photos, 100 maps, pull-out route map |

ISBN: 1868727254

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

African Bird Club

Website

Zimbabwe has a confirmed bird list of over 660 species so far and new vagrants continue to be spotted. It is unlikely that any new species resident in the country will be found unless they are created by splitting present species. The best birding areas have been well covered. Even today most are accessible to the birder, but the availability of fuel can limit travel. Although there are no endemic species in Zimbabwe, some are restricted to the forests of the eastern highlands and western Mozambique e.g. Chirinda Apalis Apalis chirindensis.

BirdLife Zimbabwe

Website

Birdlife Zimbabwe - A Partner Designate of BirdLife International - P O Box RV 100, Runiville, Zimbabwe or 35 Clyde Road, Eastlea, Harare or 3A Holdengarde Ave, Hillside, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe Telephone: 263 4 490208 e-mail - birds@zol.co.zw or adrienne@mweb.co.zw

Hwange Conservation Society

Website

The Hwange Conservation Society was established in 1992 to help protect the wildlife and environs of the Hwange National Park - Wankie as it used to be known in Zimbabwe, formely Rhodesia…

Ornithological Association of Zimbabwe

Ornithological Association of Zimbabwe, PO Box CY 161, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax: 263-4-794614, Email: birds@harare.iafrica.com Contact: John Paxton, President

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

BR Middle Zambezi

Information

Satellite View

The 2,879,300 hectares (11,117 sq mi) reserve consists of riverine and terrestrial ecosystems unique to the subcontinent.

Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park

Information

Satellite View

Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is a 35,000 km² peace park that is in the process of being formed. It will link the Limpopo National Park (formerly known as Coutada 16) in Mozambique, Kruger National Park in South Africa, Gonarezhou National Park, Manjinji Pan Sanctuary and Malipati Safari Area in Zimbabwe, as well as the area between Kruger and Gonarezhou, the Sengwe communal land in Zimbabwe and the Makuleke region in South Africa.

IBA Lake Chivero

Information

Satellite View

The lake and hinterland are protected as part of Lake Chivero Recreational Park. The lake was designated a Ramsar wetland of international importance on 3 January 2013. There is a great variety of birdlife and for the birdwatcher, the park is a paradise, Included amongst the several bird species are: South African ostrich, African openbills, barbets, bee-eaters, buzzards, coots, cormorants, doves, hamerkops, jacanas, kingfishers, grey herons, darters, Goliath herons, fish eagles, glossy starlings and lilac-breasted rollers.

IBAs

Website

The eastern highlands along the border with Mozambique form a major part of the globally important Eastern Zimbabwe Mountains Endemic Bird Area (EBA) which has a number of near endemic species such as Swynnerton’s Robin Swynnertonia swynnertoni, Briar Warbler Oreophilais robertsi and Chirinda Apalis Apalis chirindensis. These are forest birds which are found in the relatively small patches of wet montane forest in the Bvumba and Nyanga mountains. In particular Seldomseen in the Bvumba, and the Honde Valley have become birding meccas of recent years…

NP Chizarira

Information

Satellite View

Chizarira National Park lies in Northern Zimbabwe. At 2,000 square kilometres (490,000 acres), it is the third-largest national park in Zimbabwe, and also one of the least known because of its isolated situation on the Zambezi Escarpment. Chizarira has a large variety of bird life and hundreds of species have been sighted within the Park. Sought after birds recorded include the African broadbill, Livingstone's flycatcher, yellow-spotted nicator, African emerald cuckoo and the rare and elusive African pitta. Chizarira is also home to the Taita falcon which breeds within the Park.

NP Gonarezhou

Information

Satellite View

At 5,053 km2, Gonarezhou is the country's second largest game reserve after Hwange National Park.

NP Hwange

Information

Satellite View

Hwange National Park is one of Africa's finest havens for wildlife and is home to vast herds of elephant, buffalo, zebra and has a very large concentration of giraffe. It is also home to many predators and endangered species plus very large and varied birdlife of over 400 species…

NP Kazuma Pan

Information

Satellite View

Kazuma Pan is virtually unspoilt wilderness with an open landscape of grassy plains which is reminiscent of the great East African plains and is thus dissimilar to the usual Zimbzbwen bush or woodland landscapes. Within the Park there are a series of pans, some of which are kept continuously filled by water pumped from boreholes during the dry season. This permanent water source causes large concentrations of wildlife to seasonally migrate between Botswana and Zimbabwe, especially towards the end of the dry season from September through to the first rains of November or December. There are a series of seasonally flooded pans in the south-west of the park attracts a wide variety of waterfowl. The pan systems are also ideal habitat to a large variety of water birds, with a number of species including storks, crowned cranes, stilts, cormorants, ducks and kingfishers occurring throughout the area.

NP Mana Pools

Information

Satellite View

Mana Pools National Park is synonymous with the Zambezi River, elephants, lions, remoteness and wilderness.

NP Matobo

Information

Satellite View

The Matobo National Park forms the core of the Matobo or Matopos Hills, an area of granite kopjes and wooded valleys commencing some 35 kilometres (22 mi) south of Bulawayo, southern Zimbabwe. Matobo National Park contains the highest concentration of black eagles, and breeding pairs of these birds, worldwide.

NP Matusadona

Information

Satellite View

Matusadona National Park is a national park in northern Zimbabwe situated on the southern shore of Lake Kariba. Its area encompasses a combination of pristine and rugged wilderness, which before the Kariba Dam was built and Lake Kariba created was very inaccessible. The creation of the lake caused profound ecological changes. In particular, the availability of grazing on the lakeshore has contributed to an increase in the populations of large mammals large mammal in the park, especially those of elephant and Cape buffalo.

NP Nyanga

Information

Satellite View

It contains the highest land in Zimbabwe, with green hills and perennial rivers. Most of its terrain consists of rolling downland, sometimes lightly wooded, lying at altitudes between 1,800–2,593 metres (6,560–7,544 feet). Mount Nyangani, the highest point in Zimbabwe, lies in the centre of the park and Mutarazi Falls, Zimbabwe's highest waterfall, is in the south of the park. Nyanga National park incorporates the former Mutarazi Falls National Park on its southern boundary.

NP Victoria Falls

Information

Satellite View

A notable feature of the park is the rainforest which grows in the spray of the falls, including ferns, palms, liana vines, and a number of trees such as mahogany not seen elsewhere in the region. The park is located within the Zambezian and Mopane woodlands ecoregion.

NP Zambezi

Information

Satellite View

Zambezi National Park is a national park located upstream from Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe. It was split off from Victoria Falls National Park in 1979 and is 56,000 hectares (140,000 acres) in size. The park is bisected by a road to Kazungula, dividing it into a riverine side and a Chamabonda Vlei side. Most of the park is within the ecoregion of Zambezian and Mopane woodlands, while a small portion in the south is within the Zambezian Baikiaea woodlands. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded within the Zambezi National Park. Pel's fishing owl, African skimmer, collared palm thrush, lanner falcon, goliath heron, African finfoot, rock pratincole and long-toed lapwing are considered to be among the speciality birds of the park.

Zimbabwe National Parks

Website

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority welcomes you to its official website. We hope that this site will provide you with a unique interactive experience and allow you to learn more about us.…

Guides & Tour Operators

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Afrizim

Tour Operator

Bookings for Tours, Safaris and Lodges in Zimbabwe

Birding Ecotours

Tour Operator

See all the major habitats, sights and birds… and end up with a very good bird list and loads of Africa’s big and small mammals. Highlights include Mana Pools – one of Africa’s wildest game parks, the Mashonaland Plateau that boasts brilliant wetland and miombo birding, Matobo and Hwange National Parks, Great Zimbabwe Ruins, village of Victoria Falls and the spectacular eastern highlands and lowlands – an absolutely idyllic area which you’ll be sad to leave.

Birding in Zimbabwe - Tony Wood Birding Guide

Tour Operator

I am an experienced and passionate birding guide with extensive knowledge of birding in all southern African countries. I am based in Zimbabwe but can organise tours across the region. I specialise in one on one guiding. Bird & Wildlife services in Zimbabwe - Land line - +263 4 494409 Mobile - +263 772 224 224 - PO Box CH 832, Chisipite, Harare- Testimonials…

Rockjumper Birding Tours

Tour Operator

For obvious reasons, Zimbabwe has largely been ignored as a birding destination; however, with great species including two regional endemics, Chirinda Apalis and Robert’s Prinia, as well as Arnot’s and Boulder Chat, Swynnerton’s Robin and Red-faced Crimsonwing, the country is well worth a visit. Our tour of Zimbabwe targets all these species and much more besides.

Trip Reports

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CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2012 [11 November] - Keith Betton - Zimbabwe and Mozambique

PDF Report

At Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve the highlight was an unexpected party of 23 Cuckoo-finches. We spent two nights at Wakkerstroom, which gave us plenty of time to find many of the rare birds of the threatened grassland habitat. The highlights were: a large party of 26 Blue Cranes, 39 Grey-crowned Cranes, and two Wattled Cranes, a party of 12 Blue Korhaans feeding close to the road, four individual Denham’s Bustards, and many species of Lark, including Eastern Long-billed, Rudd’s, Pink-billed, and Botha’s.

2013 [12 December] - Andy Mears - Zimbabwe & Mozambique

PDF Report

Of the three races of African Pitta, the migrant longipennis differs most from its close relative, Green-breasted Pitta. With the taxonomy far from unravelled, I was keen to see this particular race and I began looking into options a couple of years ago. Wintering birds have not been seen in and around Kenya’s Sokoke Forest for well over 10 years now and sadly, the source of this population must subsequently have been destroyed. Several intrepid birders had scored in southern Zambia and in northern Zimbabwe during the breeding season but all the information seemed scant and none of the sites gave the impression of reliability…

2015 [06 June] - Andy Hurley - Namibia, Botswana & Zimbabwe

Report

A list of bird seen is not yet fully sorted, but I have been adding the new ones add and when to my year list I will endeavour to add a complete list at the end of this report.

2015 [12 December] - Bruce Wedderburn - South Africa, Zimbabwe & Mozambique

Report

This was a month long trip to Southern Africa, from early November through to early December 2015, with a focus on a number of difficult to get birds, the key target being the Africa Pitta. The plan was to spend about four days in the Johannesburg/Pretoria area before doing an overnight trip to Dullstroom in Mpumalanga (Zulu for "the place where the sun rises") for the Cape Eagle Owl. Following this a one-week pre-tour from Johannesburg through to Harare in Zimbabwe looking for three species of Flufftail and other targets. Then a two-week main tour from Harare through the Eastern Highlands and central Mozambique, ending up in Beira on the coast.

2016 [01 January] - Chris Lotz

PDF Report

We certainly had great fun birding fabulous Zimbabwe, cramming a great deal in, given just six days. The pleasantly cool Eastern Highlands are a world apart from the steaming-hot Zambezi Valley, and the totally different birdlife of each site certainly reflects this. While the politics of this small African nation might be bad, the birding is stupendous, the people extremely friendly and hospitable, the infrastructure surprisingly good, and the scenery truly breathtaking. I enjoy doing birding trips to Zimbabwe not only because it’s consistently a wonderful experience, but also because the site guides and birding lodges very much need support from visiting birders during this difficult political time.

2016 [12 December] - Dylan Vasapolli - Zimbabwe & Mozambique

PDF Report

This exciting tour takes us into the heart of Zimbabwe and Mozambique. While these countries possess very few truly endemic species, they provide relatively easy access to a number of species that are very difficult elsewhere in their range while remaining ‘easy’ here. Species such as Boulder Chat, Green-backed Honeybird, Cinnamon-breasted Tit, White-chested Alethe, East Coast Akalat, Lowland Tiny Greenbul, Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike, and African Pitta, among others, are all prime examples...

Places to Stay

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Harare Safari Lodge

Accommodation

Harare is the base from which many visitors explore the rest of the country, with Lake Kariba to the north and Victoria Falls & Hwange National Park to the northwest.

Blogs

Brent Stapelkamp - The Hwange Birder

BLOG

Hwange National Park and her birds have been forgotten in recent years and I hope that this blog may go some way to re-sparking interest in the two. Hwange has two main seasons, one hot and wet season starting in mid November and ending in mid April. This is the season for migratory birds in Hwange ranging from the inter-African migrants like the Southern Carmine Bee-eater to the Palearctic Migrants like the Amur Falcons and the Ruff. The Hwange bird list is said to be about 400 species and this is largely due to these migrants that take advantage of the huge numbers of insects and associated opportunities during our wet season.

Tony Wood - Birding in Zimbabwe

BLOG

I have been birding in Zimbabwe and its neighbouring countries for over 30 years and specialise in guiding one on one tours to find those special, endemic or just plain difficult to find species.

Other Links

Birding in the Eastern Highlands

Article

The eastern highlands is a very special area with a 260km long mountain chain running north-south along the Mozambican border.

Birding in Zimbabwe

Information

Mana Pools - Northern Zimbabwe - Over 400 bird species have been recorded. From April to December, African skimmers breed on the exposed sand banks. In September, huge flocks of carmine bee-eaters are joined by flocks of whitefronted bee-eaters. Other species to look for along the river include mottled spinetail and Bohm's spinetail, horus swift, whitebrowed coucal, blue-cheeked bee-eater (summer only) western banded snake eagle, rufousbellied heron, whitecrowned plover, longtoed plover and redwinged pratincole. The river attracts a variety of waders and some exciting species recorded here include green sandpiper, ringed plover, grey plover, Caspian plover, common redshank and bartailed godwit.

Southern Africa Birding

Website

Birding Resources for Southern Africa. This site is about birds and birding in South Africa and the Southern African region, including Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, and Zambia. The region`s best birding sites are featured under Birding Spots, together with birding resources under Bird guides, tours and Accommodation…