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Zimbabwe

Orange Thrush Zoothera gurneyi ©Adam Riley Website

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.

Zambesi 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: 697

National Bird: African fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocoder

Checklist

Checklist

WebBirder Checklist

Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder

Useful Reading

Field Guide to Birds of East Africa

Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe Series: HELM FIELD GUIDES 604 pages, 287 col plates, distrib maps. Christopher Helm

ISBN: 0713673478

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Newman's Birds of Southern Africa

Kenneth Newman Paperback - 510 pages ( 1 January, 1999) Southern Book Publishers

ISBN: 1868127575

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Photographic Guide to Birds of Prey of Southern, Central and East Africa

David Allan, Peter Hayman (Illustrator) Paperback - 144 pages (1996) New Holland Publishers (UK) New Edition

ISBN: 9781868725212

Buy this book from NHBS.com

SASOL Birds of Southern Africa

Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey and Warwick Tarboton Series: THE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF SOUTHERN AFRICA 447 pages, col plates, maps. New Holland Publishers 4th Edition

ISBN: 9781770079250

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Southern African Birdfinder

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

ISBN: 1868727254

Buy this book from NHBS.com

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…

Birding Pal

Information

Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Peter Ginn

Tour Operator

He created of a series of books on birds from beginners (Birds Afield) to keen bird-watchers (Waterbirds etc) and finally a book for experts and all bird watchers in southern Africa. He retired as a teacher in 1989 and turned his talents to planning and executing tours for visitors to Zimbabwe…

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.

2011 [01 January] - Per Holmen - Harare

Report

I just returned from a 4 day birding trip to Harare. This was a trip organized by Douglas and Francis Safaris. The main target birds were the rallids of the Vleis in and around Harare…

2011 [04 April] - Per Holmen - Victoria Falls

Report

…I tried to bird a little on the way out and picked up Collared Palm-Thrush, Brubru and Trumpeter Hornbill. We also walked down to the bridge in order to get another view of the falls…

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 [10 October] - Andrew Stainthorpe

Report PDF

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…

2014 [12 December] - Peregrine Bird Tours

Report

... We observed almost all of the endemics and regional specialities and just some of the many birding highlights included super looks at both Red-chested and Buff-spotted Flufftails, all three Zimbabwean Eastern Highlands endemics, Robert's Warbler, Chirinda Apalis and the splendid Swynnerton's Robin. The very skulking Barratt's Warbler was seen well, we observed the endangered Blue Swallow at very close quarters...

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] - Birding Ecotours

PDF Report

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.

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

Gleneagles Mountain Reserve

Website

Satellite View

Our specialist bird guide is Abasi Jana. Abasi is familiar with the 300+ bird species in the area. He can identify them both by sight and call., and will give you their Latin and English names. Specials in the area are : Swynerton`s Robin, Vanga Flycatcher, and a resident pair of Palmnut Vultures which have bred this year; as well as the Chestnut Fronted Helmet Shrike, Moustached Warbler, and Marsh Tchagra. Birding Safaris either follow trails into the forest, or over the more open grassland peaks. Special missions can be arranged to look for any particular species that you may wish to find. Abasi also has a good knowledge of the local flora and fauns, and can point out rare plants and animals that you might see on your walks. The most spectacular bird in the reserve must surely be the Crowned Eagle, the most powerfull bird in Africa. If you are very fortunate, you might even catch them hunting monkeys or small antelope.Whatever species you encounter, you are sure to have a fascinating and enjoyable experience by accompanying Abasi on his Birding Safaris.

Hwange National Park

Website

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…

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…

Mana Pools National Park

Information

Satellite View

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

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.…

Blogs

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…

Other Links

Birding in the Eastern Forests of Zimbabwe

Website

Running along the eastern border of Zimbabwe are a series of mountains which face the prevailing SE winds. These slopes create extra precipitation, especially misty conditions, which are conducive to the formation of tall ever-green sub-tropical & montane forests. These forests are probably remnants of much larger tracts which developed under wetter conditions during the Pleistocene glaciation. They contain the only true endemic & near endemic bird species found in Zimbabwe. They also contain a large number of forest species found nowhere else in Zimbabwe. As such they are a must for the visiting birder…

Birding in Zimbabwe

Website

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.

Checklist

Website

The complete checklist of the birds of Zimbabwe…

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…