Working for birds in Africa



Wed, 02/06/2013 - 16:00 -- abc_admin

Shoebill Balaeniceps rex. Two month old chick on the nest deep in the Papyrus of the Bangweulu Swamps, Zambia.

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

The following largely unconfirmed records are taken from the Bulletin of the African Bird Club for information only.

from ABC Bulletin 25.1

Sightings from January–August 2017 include the following. A Redbilled Francolin Pternistis adspersus at Sentinel, Trident Project site, Kalumbila, on 2 April, represents a substantial extension of the species’ known range; previous records are all from the south-west and along the Zambezi up to the Lukulu area. A pair of Woolly-necked Storks Ciconia episcopus was seen at its nest along the Lufupa River, Kafue National Park (=NP), in late June; there are very few known nesting locations for the species in Zambia, and this appears to be the southernmost. A juvenile Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius was being fed by a Meves’s Longtailed Starling Lamprotornis mevesii in Nsefu Sector, South-Luangwa NP, in May; there are few data on timing of breeding and host species in Zambia. Having been recorded for the first time in the country in early November 2016, in Lower Zambezi NP (see Bull. ABC 24: 251), Whistling Yellowbill (Green Malkoha) Ceuthmochares [aereus] australis, has been observed in Munyamadzi Game Reserve, lower Luangwa Valley, where at least two males were present from 14 June onwards, suggesting that the species is colonising the southeast. Surveys of the Kafue Flats, on 10–16 August, found 49 nests of White-backed Vultures Gyps africanus and one nest of Lappetfaced Vulture Torgos tracheliotos. A Honeyguide Greenbul Baeopogon indicator observed near the Trident Project site, Kalumbila, on 2 April, represents a substantial extension to the south-east of the species’ known range. The first Bocage’s Akalat Sheppardia bocagei for Kalwelwa Forest was photographed when it responded aggressively to playback of Grey-winged Akalat (Grey-winged Robin Chat) S. polioptera, which was known to occur at the site; this raises the question as to whether the two species occur alongside each other here or if the 2017 drought has caused a shift in their ranges (per BirdWatch Zambia 25(5): 1–9).

from ABC Bulletin 24.2

The first Red-necked Buzzard Buteo auguralis for the country, a juvenile, was photographed in Liuwa Plains National Park on 3 May 2016; the species ranges from West Africa south into Angola, but has been recorded in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa in recent years. The first confirmed Whistling Yellowbill (Green Malkoha) Ceuthmochares [aereus] australis for Zambia was seen at Mwambashi River Lodge, in Lower Zambezi National Park, in early November 2016; possibly the same bird was subsequently photographed on 15 and 21 November. Following this discovery, it has come to light that the species has been present at more than one location in the park since November 2013 (per BirdWatch Zambia 47(1): 1–5).

from ABC Bulletin 23.1

Two White-throated Bee-eaters Merops albicollis were recorded on Mutondwe, an island in Lake Tanganyika, north of Mpulungu, on 17 October 2015, with one still present on 28 October; Dowsett et al. (2008. The Birds of Zambia) mention just one certain record for Zambia, of up to six birds at Uningi Pans, from 11 December 1999 to 13 January 2000.

from ABC Bulletin 22.2

The first Hartlaub’s Duck Pteronetta hartlaubii for the country was reported at a dam on a new mine development in the north-west on 10 January 2015; this record is well south of its known range. 

from ABC Bulletin 19.2

A Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus was photographed in the Bangweulu Swamps on 11 November 2011; this is the second record for the country, the first being from 1985.

from ABC Bulletin 19.1

A visit to northernmost Mwinilunga District, and notably Jimbe Drainage Important Bird Area, in August - September 2011, yielded the third Zambian record of Shrike Flycatcher Megabyas flammulatus, as well as the rarely recorded Brown-eared Woodpecker Campethera caroli and Chestnut Wattle-eye Dyaphorophyia castanea.

Records from elsewhere, in September - November 2011, include the following. A group of 12 Pink-backed Pelicans Pelecanus rufescens were circling over Nchila Wildlife Reserve on 17 September; this appears to be a new square vs. The Birds of Zambia: An Atlas and Handbook but adjacent to previous records. An Abdim’s Stork Ciconia abdimii over the Zambezi Rapids on 19 September is an early sighting of this intra-African migrant - the earliest arrival date given in the Atlas is 10 October. African Cuckoo Hawks Aviceda cuculoides were observed on the Chitunta Plain on 18 November. A Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera seen over Luakera Forest on 16 September represents a new square and a significant in-country range extension. A Lesser Jacana Microparra capensis was at a small pool on the Chitunta Plain on 18 November. Little Stints Calidris minuta were seen on the Chitunta Plain on 18 November. A small flock of Sharp-tailed Starlings Lamprotornis acuticaudus flew through Nchila Wildlife Reserve on 17 November.

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

In January 2011, large numbers of Corn Crakes Crex crex, African Crakes C. egregia and Striped Crakes Aenigmatolimnas marginalis appeared on farms around Choma, in the south, with for example four Striped Crakes being flushed in half an hour. Several Collared Flycatchers Ficedula albicollis were observed in miombo at the Nkanga River Conservation Area, just outside Choma, with two, both still in breeding plumage, being seen in less than an hour.


A Whinchat Saxicola rubetra was seen at Chisamba, near Lusaka, on 28 and 30 December 2010 at the southern limit of its normal wintering range.

In 2009 the following were reported. Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis were found breeding at Siansowa Crocodile Farm, 40 km west of Sinazongwe, on 21 November; this is the first confirmed breeding record for Zambia.  A roost of c.100 Slaty Egrets Egretta vinaceigula was found in reeds on the Lingongole River, Simungoma Important Bird Area (=IBA), on 11 August. A pair of Cape Shovelers Anas smithii at Chisamba IBA, on 12 - 16 July is the seventh record for the country. A Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus was at Lion Camp, South Luangwa National Park, on 17–22 August; this is the most southerly record in Zambia of this rapidly spreading species. About 12 Black Saw-wings Psalidoprocne pristoptera of the eastern race orientalis at Katombora Rapids, near Livingstone, on 28 July constitute the most westerly Zambian record by c.250 km. A Red-rumped Swallow Cecropsis daurica of the Palearctic race rufula was mist-netted near Kabwe on 27 January; this is the most southerly confirmed record in Africa of this race.

A Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea which found its way inside the Livingstone Museum on 23 March 2009 was the fourth confirmed record for the country.

On 8 October 2008, a tagged White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus was seen in South Luangwa National Park, 1,945 km from the Askham District of Northern Cape, South Africa, where it was ringed and tagged as a pullus on the nest on 30 October 2007; this is the furthest north that any of the birds tagged in South Africa has been recorded. A ringed Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina was recovered in Southern Province, north of the town of Choma, around 23 November 2008, 7,770 km from Olsztynek, Olsztyn, Poland, where it had been ringed on 10 July 1992, 5,980 days (or more than 16 years and four months) previously. This is the oldest recovery for Zambia and one of the oldest individuals of the species ever recovered, the record being 26 years for a bird ringed in Latvia in 1931. Average longevity of this species is c.10.5 years.

Following at least four separate records in Livingstone and Choma in 2004–06, Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea has been admitted to the Zambian list, which rises to 753 species.

A  Spotted Crake Porzana porzana was found at Kasanka National Park, on 20 January 2006, and a Yellow-bellied Waxbill Coccopygia quartinia at Mutinondo Wilderness, on 23rd. Both are new site records. On 3 February 2006 a Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis schistacea was found near Kafunta River Lodge, near Luangwa National Park, and stayed for several days. This has been accepted as a first for the country.

In December 2004, a Spotted Crake Porzana porzana was flushed at Nkanga conservation area on 17th. The sighting of a male Oustalet’s Sunbird Cinnyris oustaleti on Ntumbachushi Hill appears to be a slight range extension for this species. In 2005, at least 4,000 (and perhaps up to 10,000) Amur Falcons Falco amurensis descended to roost in a gum tree in the middle of Choma on 26 March. A Chestnut-headed Flufftail Sarothrura lugens was calling at Mutinondo, but defied observation despite eight people intensively searching right next to it. Papyrus Yellow Warbler Chloropeta gracilirostris proved easy to see at Mununshi, 25 km south of Kawambwa, in January. Although an indigobird Vidua sp. at Maluka, Katombora, along the Zambezi 60 km west of Livingstone, has been declared a Village Indigobird V. chalybeata on genetic evidence, it was mimicking Brown Firefinch Lagonosticta nitidula, as did its male parent, who was ringed in the same tree in 2000, and not Red-billed Firefinch L. senegala - could it be a new species in the making?.

Three new species for South Luangwa National Park were recorded at Chunyu Lagoon on 4 December 2003: Little Rush-Warbler Bradypterus baboecala, Lesser Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus gracilirostris and Spotted Crake Porzana porzana. A European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus was in the Mfuwe gate area of the park on 22 March 2004.

The following records are taken from ABC Bulletin Vol 10 No 2 and cover the period January to June 2002.

In January, Black-rumped Buttonquail Turnix hottentotus, Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus and Short-tailed Pipit Anthus brachyurus were reported from Mwinilunga. African Hobby Falco cuvierii was seen in Mweru Wantipa National Park and a Shoebill Balaeniceps rex at Lake Tondwa on the 1st. An Osprey Pandion haliaetus and three Spur-winged Lapwings Vanellus spinosus were at Kasaba Bay on the 2nd. White-winged Starlings Neocichla gutturalis were near Nsama on the 3rd. A group of about 25 Amur Falcons Falco amurensis was reported near Muyombe with another group the next day along with Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis and a Shelley’s Sunbird Cinnyris shelleyi. A Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus was seen in the centre of Lusaka on the 6th. Cardinal Quelea Quelea cardinalis was seen near South Luangwa National Park on the 7th and a Striped Crake Aenigmatolimnas marginalis was found there on the 12th.

Bird counts in Lochinvar on the 10th produced massive numbers with 465 Great White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus, 2,020 Squacco Herons Ardeola ralloides, 1,490 Black Egrets Egretta ardesiaca, 21 Slaty Egrets E. Vinaceigula, 1,732 Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus, 425 Wattled Cranes Bugeranus carunculatus, 651 Long-toed Lapwings Vanellus crassirostris, 23,670 Ruff Philomachus pugnax and 370 Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa. Also seen were a European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, African Blue Quail Coturnix adansonii, Black-rumped Buttonquail Turnix hottentotus, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, seven Eurasian Curlew N. arquata, a Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva, two Grey Plover P. squatarola and two Corncrake Crex crex. On the 16th, there was also a Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus and an Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum. A long-staying Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula was present at Livingstone sewage ponds on the 17th and a boat trip produced African Finfoot Podica senegalensis and White-backed Night Heron Gorsachius leuconotus: on the 18th, European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus and Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus were seen. In Western Province, Southern Brown-throated Weavers Ploceus xanthopterus were found breeding on the 13th and on the 26th, 11 Lesser Kestrels Falco Naumanni and Red-footed Falcon F. vespertinus were found.

In February, Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor and a Striped Crake Aenigmatolimnas marginalis were found on the 4th and 10th respectively. In Western Province, there were reports of two Lesser Kestrels Falco naumanni, nine Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus, a Thick-billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti, two Shelley’s Sunbird Cinnyris shelleyi and a Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor on the 9th. A white-morph Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus was in Lusaka on the 15th and a displaying Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens near Choma on various dates was unusual.

In March in Western Province, a huge concentration of waterfowl was found with thousands of Fulvous Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna bicolor, White-faced Whistling Ducks D. viduata, Knob-billed Ducks Sarkidiornis melanotos and Red-billed Teal Anas erythrorhyncha as well as hundreds of Spur-winged Geese Plectropterus gambensis, Yellow-billed Ducks Anas undulata and Hottentot Teals A. hottentota. A Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus was observed in the Luangwa Valley on the 20th and Cape Teals Anas capensis in Livingstone reached a total of six near the end of the month. The last days of the month saw widespread reports of Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor and on the 30th, a Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos was photographed near Ndola.

In April, a Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus was seen on the 22nd near Lake Tanganyika, Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus was near Batoka on the 14th and Dusky Lark Pinarocorys nigricans was common at Livingstone on the 30th. Both Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio and Lesser Grey Shrike L. minor were still passing through on the 20th. In May at Bangweulu, there were a good number of Shoebill Balaeniceps rex and a Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres was seen on 16th and 17th. In June, a Chestnut-vented Warbler Parisoma subcaeruleum was in Choma on the 3rd. There were about 100 Slaty Egrets Egretta Vinaceigula, 35 Saddle-billed Storks Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis, about 250 Wattled Cranes Bugeranus carunculatus and 400 Grey Crowned Cranes Balearica regulorum in Liuwa National Park. In addition, good numbers of Rufous-crowned Rollers Coracias naevius arrived in June.

The following reports were compiled by Pete Leonard for the period July to December 2001

In July, 3 Palm-nut Vultures Gypohierax angolensis were seen together in the Luangwa Valley where the species used to be very scarce. Nearby were two late migrants, a Black Coucal Centropus grillii and an Allen's Gallinule Porphyrio alleni, and a Pel's Fishing-owl Scotopelia peli was seen with a freshly killed small (50-60 cm) crocodile. High waterbird counts in Lochinvar NP included 17,900 White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata, 9,360 Red-billed Teal Anas erythrorhyncha, 345 Wattled Cranes Bugeranus carunculatus and 220 African Skimmers Rynchops flavirostris. A Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula was recorded there and 2 others were found in Kafue NP and near Solwezi.

In August, Angola Swallows Hirundo angolensis were discovered in Luanshya early in the month, the first Copperbelt records for some time. The same species was found breeding in good numbers in Luapula Province. Bar-winged Weavers Ploceus angolensis were found nest building and Chestnut-headed Flufftails Sarothrura lugens calling both near Mkushi and Mpika and an unidentified sunbird was found which may prove to be an undescribed taxon. In the far north the poorly known Lusenga Plain NP was explored and species present included Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus, African Blue Quail Coturnix adansonii and Cassin's Flycatcher Muscicapa cassini. Further north still, large numbers of Orange-cheeked Waxbills Estrilda melpoda and the occasional Spotted Thrush-Babbler Ptyrticus turdinus were found along the Luao River, both of which have very small ranges in Zambia. Joyful Greenbul Chlorocichla laetissima was known from a single locality in Zambia but virtually all the forest had been cleared when this was visited and this species probably no longer occurs. Lesser Black-winged Lapwings Vanellus lugubris were found breeding near Lake Tanganyika and a nominate Long-toed Lapwing Vanellus crassirostris was seen at Lake Tondwa along with drumming African Snipe Gallinago nigripennis and very large numbers of White-backed Ducks Thalassornis leuconotus, Red-knobbed Coots Fulica cristata and Lesser Jacanas Microparra capensis. More Lesser Black-winged Lapwings Vanellus lugubris were in the Luangwa Valley along with an off-season African Pygmy Kingfisher Ceyx pictus.

In September, breeding Angola Swallows Hirundo angolensis were found near Solwezi and in Mwinilunga District were several White-bellied Bustards Eupodotis senegalensis, Angola Larks Mirafra angolensis and regular Thick-billed Cuckoos Pachycoccyx audeberti. A Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus (rather uncommon in Zambia) on the Kafue floodplains was an interesting suggestion of local breeding and an African Hobby Falco cuvierii was on the Busanga Plains. Zanzibar Sombre Greenbul Andropadus importunus was found in Mazabuka for the first time and in Livingstone a Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula arrived for what turned into a long stay.

In October, near Livingstone, an African Yellow Warbler Chloropeta natalensis was the first confirmed record for the area and in Lochinvar NP, interesting sightings included Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica, Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata and Denham's Bustard Neotis denhami. The long forgotten Isangano NP was visited and amongst the interesting species found were White-backed Night Heron Gorsachius leuconotus and Black Sparrowhawk Accipiter melanoleucus. A Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea near Mpika was only about Zambia's fifth.

In November, an African Pitta Pitta angolensis spent a few days poking around a workshop in the Luangwa Valley. A new big day record of 302 species was set on the 11th and highlights included sightings of Chaplin's Barbet Lybius chaplini, Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens and a roost of c250,000 Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica in Choma, and Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres, Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola and Sanderling Calidris alba in Lochinvar National Park. A Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica with a British ring was caught in Choma and in the same reedbed was a roost of several thousand Parasitic Weavers Anomalospiza imberbis. A Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla was also flushed there and the first Thick-billed Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons for Choma District was found. A very early Striped Crake Aenigmatolimnas marginalis was found in Livingstone where up to four Baillon's Crakes Porzana pusilla were also present along with the occasional Spotted Crake Porzana porzana. An Anchieta's Barbet Stactolaema anchietae was found just south of its known range near Mongu and large numbers of Slaty Egrets Egretta vinaceigula and Black-winged Pratincoles Glareola nordmanni were recorded in Liuwa Plain National Park.

In December, a Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius being chased by Burchell's Starlings Lamprotornis australis in Sioma Ngwezi National Park suggests that another Zambian host awaits discovery. Several groups of Black-and-White Mannikins Spermestes bicolor appeared in Choma (where the species was hardly known) and stayed for a few weeks in what seemed to be some sort of invasion. Both Corncrake Crex crex and Spotted Crakes Porzana porzana were there as well as a Eurasian River Warbler Locustella fluviatilis. In the Zambezi Valley Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx montanus, African Pitta Pitta angolensis and Mottled Spinetail Telacanthura ussheri were all found. A European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus was near Kafue and a Buff-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura elegans was near Lusaka. Relatively large numbers of Short-tailed Pipits Anthus brachyurus were found displaying in Mwinilunga and other interesting species found there included Bannerman's Sunbird Cyanomitra bannermani, Black-collared Bulbul Neolestes torquatus and Black-rumped Buttonquail Turnix hottentottus. A pair of Spur-winged Lapwings Vanellus spinosus were found in the Bangweulu basin illustrating the continuing spread of this species that was only found for the first time in Zambia in 1999. A wandering Shoebill Balaeniceps rex was at Kasanka National Park and several European White Storks Ciconia ciconia were, once more, being tracked by satellite across the country helping to add dots to the atlas map without the need for binoculars. A wide selection of montane species were found on the Nyika Plateau such as Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk Accipiter rufiventris, Striped Flufftail Sarothrura affinis, Bar-tailed Trogon Apaloderma vittatum, Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea , Olive-flanked Robin-Chat Cossypha anomala, Sharpe's Akalat Sheppardia sharpei, Cinnamon Bracken-Warbler Bradypterus cinnamomeus, Mountain Yellow Warbler Chloropeta similis, Fülleborn's Boubou Laniarius fuelleborni and Red-faced Crimsonwing Cryptospiza reichenovii and two notable Palearctic migrants there were a Corncrake Crex crex and a Common Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis.


Tue, 02/05/2013 - 16:10 -- abc_admin

Country Map

Important Bird Areas


Tue, 02/05/2013 - 16:08 -- abc_admin

BENSON, C.W., BROOKE, R.K., DOWSETT, R.J. and IRWIN, M.P.S. (1971) The Birds of Zambia. London: Collins. Although not a field guide this book is still an extremely useful avifauna packed with information.

COHEN, C., SPOTTISWOODE, C. & ROSSOUW, J. (2006) Southern African Birdfinder: where to find 1,400 birds in southern Africa and Madagascar. Struik Publishers. 

COLLAR, N. J. and FISHPOOL, L. D. C. (2006) What is Pogoniulus makawai?ABC Bulletin 13(1) pp 18-27.

DOWSETT, R.J., BREWSTER, C.A. and HINES, C. (2011) Some bird distributional limits in the Upper Zambezi Valley. ABC Bulletin 18(1) pp 17-30.

DOWSETT, R.J. (ed.) (2009) Contribution to the Ornithology of Zambia. Tauraco Research Report No. 9. *Download this paper

DOWSETT, R.J., ASPINALL, D.R. and DOWSETT-LEMAIRE, F. and(2008) The Birds of Zambia. Published by Tauraco Press and Aves, Belgium.

LEONARD, P. (2007) Birds of Lusenga Plain National Park, Zambia. ABC Bulletin 14(1) pp 38-44.

LEONARD, P. (2005) Important Bird Areas in Zambia. A project of The Zambian Ornithological Society (see contacts page for details).

LEONARD, P. & DOWSETT, R.J. (2005) Chaplin's Barbet Lybius chaplini - a bibliography. ABC Bulletin 12(1) pp 53-54.

LEONARD, P. and BEEL, C. (1999) Two new resident birds in northern Zambia. ABC Bulletin 6(1) pp 56-57.

SPOTTISWOODE, C., LEONARD, P. & MILLS, M. (2005) Little-known African bird: Chaplin's Barbet Lybius chapliniZambia's fig-loving endemic. ABC Bulletin 12(1) pp 50-52.

TITTLE, D. & DOWSETT, R. J. (2006) Mangrove Kingfisher Halcyon senegaloidesinland in eastern Zambia. ABC Bulletin 13 (2) pp 194-196.

VAN DEN BRINK, B. and LEONARD, P. (2011) A Palearctic Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica rufula in Zambia. ABC Bulletin 18(1) pp 77-78.

* In order to view and print this paper, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.


Tue, 02/05/2013 - 16:05 -- abc_admin

Bateleur adult female Terathopius ecaudatus in the Kafue National Park, Zambia

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Zambia's 42 IBAs cover a combined area of 10,538,250 ha; approximately 14% of Zambia’s total land surface. At present, about 82% of the area covered by IBAs receives some form of protection (National Park: 60%, Game Management Area: 19%, National Forest: 2%, privately owned: 1%).

Zambia faces a similar array of conservation issues to many other African countries including habitat degradation, fire, illegal hunting and over-fishing, invasive alien plants, the degazetting of protected areas and the ineffective implementation and enforcement of conservation legislation. However, Zambia boasts large tracts of pristine wilderness which are probably less exposed to environmental, population, industrial and political pressures than many neighbouring countries. Zambia is also fortunate not to have large numbers of threatened species. Nevertheless, this could quickly change if appropriate conservation measures are not implemented and if the current conservation infrastructure is not properly maintained.

Books & Sounds

Tue, 02/05/2013 - 16:04 -- abc_admin

The field guide which includes all the species found in Zambia is Birds of Africa south of the Sahara by Sinclair and Ryan.

A field guide to the Zambian Birds not found in Southern Africa by Aspinwall & Beel (currently out of print) coupled with a good South African guide such as the SASOL guide is also a possibility.
The Southern African Birdfinder: Where to find 1,400 bird species in southern Africa must rank as one of the best 'Where to' guides for a region. It contains detailed information on sites, clear maps and directions and great photos.


Book image: 
Book info: 
Birds of Africa South of the Sahara, Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

Second edition, including 500 new images and 400 updated distribution maps. Unrivalled coverage of African birds in a single volume. 2129+ species covered with an additional 101 vagrants briefly described. Revised to reflect the latest changes in taxonomy. Species descriptions give precise identification features highlighting differences between similar species as well as briefly reporting habitat, status and call. Annotated illustrations portray distinctive plumages as well as diagnostic flight patterns and major geographic variants where applicable.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Sasol Birds of Southern Africa (4th edition), Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboton & Peter Ryan, Struik, Softback
Book description: 

4th edition. The best field guide to the region with over 200 colour plates and numerous distribution maps. The Southern African region is Botwana, Lesotho, southern Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

This fourth edition has been greatly improved by the addition of group introductions, calendar bars showing species' occurrence and breeding periods, a section on 'how to use this book', as well as sonograms depicting the calls of tricky bird groups. The newly designed plates are meticulously illustrated, with labels pinpointing key differentiating features. Distribution maps show the relative abundance of a species in the region and also indicate resident or migrant status.

Written by top birders, this authoritative and comprehensive identification guide is invaluable to all birders. 464 pages.

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Book info: 
Southern African Birdfinder: Where to find 1400 bird species in southern Africa, C Cohen & C Spottiswoode, assisted by J Rossouw, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

2006. The ideal companion to all the local bird field guides. After an introduction to birding in the southern African region, the authors identify and describe more than 330 birding sites and associated birds across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and, the little-documented but increasingly popular, areas of Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi. All sites are ranked into one of three categories of priority: essential (the regions best); excellent (top sites but expendable to a time-limited visitor) and local interest (ideal for those looking for new areas to explore). All sites include practical details of access, best times to visit, habitat diversity and general natural history.

Includes a fold-out map of the entire region that features all routes. A quick guide to finding the region's top 100 birds and an annotated checklist conclude the book.

"Written by three of the most experienced birders in the region, they have poured their experience into its production and this really shows in the level of detail and coverage." - Martin Fowlie, BTO.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Field Guide to Zambian Birds not found in Southern Africa, Dylan Aspinwall & Carl Beel, Zambian Ornithological Society, Hardback.
Book description: 

Reprint under consideration - date unknown (this book is currently out of print). A supplement to the field guides to the birds of the Southern African sub-region. Zambia, lying further north, has about 120 bird species not dealt with in such works.

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Book info: 
Birds of Zambia, Robert J Dowsett, Dylan R Aspinwall, Françoise Dowsett-Lemaire, Tauraco Press & Aves, Softback.
Book description: 

Distribution atlas presents detailed accounts of more than 750 species known (among which there are 100 migrants from the northern hemisphere) to occur in the country. Updates and expands its immediate predecessor (Birds of Zambia - Benson, Brooke, Dowsett & Irwin, 1971). 606 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Important Bird Areas in Zambia, Peter Leonard, Zambian Ornithological Society, Softback.
Book description: 

2005. An essential new resource for conservationists and birders, this book describes 42 IBAs identified in Zambia, including 18 National Parks. It is illustrated in full colour throughout with numerous photographs and line drawings. There are detailed maps, checklists and tourist information for all sites and a lengthy introduction gives an overview of Zambian biodiversity and conservation. 220 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Sounds of Zambian Wildlife, Bob Stjernstedt
Book description: 

An MP3 DVD featuring the sounds of 574 Zambian birds, 20 Zambian mammals and 32 Zambian frogs. The DVD-R also includes detailed species lists (English, French and scientific names), with the associated filename in PDF, HTML and text formats. The various English PDF lists can be printed out as a handy A5 booklet for ease of use in the field.

Book description: 

Field guide comments

There is no single perfect guide and as is so often the case, a combination of books is best.

Aspinwall, D.R. & Beel, C. 1998. A field guide to the Zambian Birds not found in Southern Africa.  Lusaka: Zambian Ornithological Society. Although it only covers the 'non-Roberts' birds, the information is accurate and very useful.

Benson, C.W., Brooke, R.K., Dowsett, R.J. and Irwin, M.P.S. 1971. The Birds of Zambia. London: Collins. Although not a field guide this book is still an extremely useful avifauna packed with information.

Sinclair, I., & Ryan, P. 2003. Birds of Africa south of the Sahara. Cape Town: Struik. Useful as it covers all species, but a bit bulky and not always accurate.

Sinclair, I., Hockey, P. & Tarboton, W. 1993. Birds of Southern Africa. Edition 2002 Cape Town: Struik. Latterly published as the 'Sasol' guide. A useful book which covers the majority of Zambian birds and is best used in conjunction with Aspinwall & Beel. Maps do not cover Zambia.

Van Perlo, B. 1999. Birds of Southern Africa. London: Harper Collins. Although not a comprehensive field guide, a useful pocket-sized volume that covers all species. Maps not always accurate.

Birds of Zambia by DOWSETT, ASPINALL & DOWSETT-LEMAIRE is now available.

Pete Leonard's Important Bird Areas of Zambia is an invaluable guide for anyone planning to visit the birding sites within the country.

Source: from a correspondent


Tue, 02/05/2013 - 15:57 -- abc_admin

Chaplin’s Barbet Lybius chaplini

Image Credit: 
Birding Africa

Wattled Cranes Bugeranus carunculatus, Bangweulu, Zambia

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Birding tours

Birding & BeyondBirding AfricaBirding Ecotours, Birdquest, Letaka Safaris, Lawson'sRockjumper, Safari Consultants and Safariwise are all sponsors of the African Bird Club and operate tours to Zambia.


The internet and email have made private trips to Zambia a lot more feasible but be aware that many Zambian addresses will be accessed through unreliable phone lines so don't expect immediate replies and don't send large attachments without asking first.

Maps and navigation
Excellent, detailed maps (both 1:250,000 and 1:50,000) covering the whole of Zambia can be bought cheaply from the main government map office at the Ministry of Lands in Lusaka. This is in the basement of Mulungushi House by the corner of Independence Avenue and Nationalist Road. These maps are highly recommended, particularly if you intend to visit some of the more remote sites in this book. In a few areas, driving off-road is inevitable and in such situations a GPS (Global Positioning System) can be very useful.

Zambian public transport services connect most of the main regional towns and taxis are often a reasonably cheap way of reaching areas nearby. Hitch-hiking is acceptable, though lifts are normally paid for.

Reaching many of the sites listed in this book will require you to use your own vehicle. Zambia's road network is not well developed. Tarred roads, in varying states of repair, connect many District headquarters (Bomas) to Provincial headquarters, all of which are linked by tarred road to Lusaka. Most other roads are gravel or dirt. Getting to most sites will involve driving on such roads and therefore high-clearance vehicles are important. Four-wheel drive is less important, though it is necessary when driving on Kalahari sand in the west and occasionally during the rains when driving conditions can become difficult. Note that some roads become impassable at this time. Driving at night is not recommended. Although supplies are reasonably widespread, it is worth carrying some extra fuel and a selection of spares and tools (including a tyre mending kit and pump), particularly when visiting more remote areas. Gravel roads can be deceptive and the smoother they are, the faster you are tempted to drive and the greater the chance of skidding, so avoid driving faster than 60kph on gravel roads. In sand, four-wheel drive is important. To avoid getting stuck, keep your revs high, maintain your momentum, avoid braking suddenly and lower your tyre pressures if necessary. A common problem in the early dry season when the grass is tall is engine overheating due to the radiator filling up with grass seeds. In such situations, ensure you remove seeds at regular intervals. If you are exploring distant, remote and unfamiliar areas, it is advisable to travel with two vehicles. Car hire is still expensive in Zambia and it is often easier and cheaper to hire vehicles in South Africa, Botswana or Namibia and travel on from those countries.

Outside National Parks, it is generally possible to camp anywhere and Zambia abounds in beautiful, wild and remote areas that are perfect for camping. However, where appropriate, it is advisable and polite to seek the permission of the local landowner or village head before doing so. A courteous explanation of the reasons for your visit will invariably grant you a warm welcome. If you intend to leave a camp or vehicle whilst you explore on foot, it is wise to leave somebody to act as a guard. Employing a full-time guard and helper on a trip into the bush is highly recommended. Furthermore, local villagers are often keen to act as guides or porters if you choose to travel any distance on foot. Suitable payment should be negotiated, but not issued, before departure.


Zambia is a safe country and the safety issues encountered are no different to those in any other African country. Guidebooks, travel companies and websites provide much of the advice one needs, but key points warrant repetition here: (1) be aware of the risk of malaria and seek current advice, sleep in a sealed tent or under a net and take prophylaxis as recommended; (2) always ensure you have sufficient water and some method of purification (even if this comprises a pot and a campfire for boiling); (3) do not underestimate the danger of being in the sun for too long, ensure you use sun-block, drink plenty of water and wear a hat; (4) be aware of the risk of AIDS; (5) ensure that you take a reasonably-equipped first-aid pack with you including supplies of hypodermic and suturing needles. See the following 2 websites for the latest safety and travel information: US Travel and UK FCO.


Tue, 02/05/2013 - 15:48 -- abc_admin

Miombo Scrub Robin Cercotrichas barbata, Multinondo Wilderness Area, Zambia

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Bannerman's Sunbird Cyanomitra bannermani, Hillwood Farm, Mwinilunga, close to the DRC border, Zambia

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Both LEONARD (2005) and a new site guide will cover many of Zambia's best birding sites in detail. Some of the most popular sites that are worth visiting for certain species include:

Hillwood (Nchila Wildlife Reserve) - for many of the 'Mwinilunga specials' in the far north-west.

Lochinvar National Park - for spectacular waterfowl concentrations.

Nkanga River Conservation Area - for a wide variety and particularly Chaplin's Barbet Lybius

Kafue National Park - for a wide variety, Black-cheeked Lovebirds Agapornis nigrigenis in the south and mammals.

Mutinondo Wilderness - excellent miombo and dambo

North & South Luangwa National Parks - excellent waterbirds and raptors, not to mention the mammals.

Kasanka National Park and Bangweulu Swamps - good miombo and dambo and of course waterfowl and  Shoebill Balaeniceps rex in the

Nyika National Park - for all the montane species. Best approached from Malawi.


Tue, 02/05/2013 - 15:47 -- abc_admin

Rosy-breasted Longclaw Macronyx ameliae, Bangweulu, Zambia

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Angola Lark Mirafra angolensis, Mwinilunga, Zambia

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Country checklist and status


We are delighted that our Corporate Sponsor iGoTerra has made its country checklists, including subspecies (IOC or Clements) as well as all other species groups like mammals, butterflies etc. available through the ABC website. The only thing required is a Basic membership / registration which is free of charge. Go to Zambia checklists. If you are already a member of iGoTerra, you will be taken directly to the country page. In case you are not a member, you will be redirected automatically to the registration form and from there can go straight to the country page.

750 species have been recorded to date.

You can also download this spreadsheet with checklists for Zambian National Parks and IBAs.

Endemic species

Zambia's only true endemic species is Chaplin's Barbet Lybius chaplini, although Black-cheeked Lovebird Agapornis nigrigenis is virtually so and quite a number of other species have the greater proportion of their range within Zambia. If recognised as a valid species, White-chested Tinkerbird Pogoniulus makawai is endemic. However, it is still known only from the holotype and many authorities now consider it to be an aberrant Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird P. bilineatus.

Threatened species

BirdLife International (2000) lists 22 globally threatened species that occur in Zambia. No species classified as 'Critical' or 'Endangered' occurs, but Zambia holds 11 species classified as 'Vulnerable', 9 species classified as 'Near-threatened' and 2 species classified as 'Data-deficient'. It is possible that White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresii (classified as 'Endangered') occurs in Zambia, if only sporadically, but at present there are no confirmed records

Madagascar Pond Heron Ardeola idae Vulnerable
Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula Vulnerable
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres Vulnerable
Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus Vulnerable
Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga Vulnerable
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni Vulnerable
Corncrake Crex crex Vulnerable
Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus Vulnerable
Black-cheeked Lovebird Agapornis nigrigenis Vulnerable
Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea Vulnerable
Papyrus Yellow Warbler Chloropeta gracilirostris Vulnerable


Birding in general

Zambia holds a mouth-watering selection of birds, many of which are very difficult to see elsewhere. Miombo woodland is the predominant habitat and here one can find species such as Thick-billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti, Pennant-winged Nightjar Macrodipteryx vexillarius, Anchieta’s Barbet Stactolaema anchietae, Miombo Pied Barbet Tricholaema frontata, Black-necked Eremomela Eremomela atricollis, Red-capped Crombec Sylvietta ruficapilla, Yellow-bellied Hyliota Hyliota flavigaster, Bühm’s Flycatcher Muscicapa boehmi, Rufous-bellied Tit Parus rufiventris, Spotted Creeper Salpornis spilonotus, Anchieta’s Sunbird Anthreptes anchietae, Shelley's Sunbird Cinnyris shelleyi, Sousa's Shrike Lanius souzae, Sharp-tailed Starling Lamprotornis acuticaudus, White-winged Starling Neocichla gutturalis and Bar-winged Weaver Ploceus angolensis.

In the grassy dambos that drain the woodland are African Blue Quail Coturnix adansonii, Black-rumped Buttonquail Turnix hottentotus, Chestnut-headed Flufftail Sarothrura lugens, Streaky-breasted Flufftail S.boehmi, Striped Crake Aenigmatolimnas marginalis, Fülleborn's Longclaw Macronyx fuellebornii, Rosy-throated Longclaw M. ameliae, Black-chinned Quailfinch Ortypgospiza gabonensis, Locust-Finch Paludipasser locustella and endless species of cisticola.

In the north of the country, patches of mushitu (wet evergreen forest) hold species such as Ross's Turaco Musophaga rossae, Bocage's Akalat Sheppardia bocagei, Laura's Woodland-Warbler Phylloscopus laurae and Margaret’s Batis Batis margaritae. Along rivers you might find Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens, African Finfoot Podica senegalensis, Pel’s Fishing-owl Scotopelia peli and Boehm’s Bee-eater Merops boehmi. In the low-lying deciduous thickets, the ultimate prize is African Pitta Pitta angolensis.

The drawcards of the larger wetlands are Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula, Shoebill Balaeniceps rex and Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus. Those travelling to the papyrus swamps over the lower Luapula River will be looking for Papyrus Yellow Warbler Chloropeta gracilirostris and White-winged Warbler Bradypterus carpalis.

Other more remote hotspots include Mwinilunga which holds a large number of species rarely found elsewhere in the country such as White-spotted Flufftail S arothrura pulchra, Angola Lark Mirafra angolensis, Black-and-rufous Swallow Hirundo nigrorufa, Grimwood's Longclaw Macronyx grimwoodi, Black-collared Bulbul Neolestes torquatus, Grey-winged Robin-Chat Cossypha polioptera, Bamboo Warbler Bradypterus alfredi and Spotted Thrush-Babbler Ptyrticus turdinus. In montane areas such as the Nyika Plateau, one can find Bar-tailed Trogon Apaloderma vittatum, Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea, White-chested Alethe Alethe fuelleborni, Sharpe’s Akalat Sheppardia sharpei, Olive-flanked Robin-Chat Cossypha anomala, Mountain Yellow Warbler Chloropeta similis, Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird Nectarinia johnstoni, Waller’s Starling Onychognathus walleri, Bertram's Weaver Ploceus bertrandi and Mountain Marsh Widowbird Euplectes psammocromius.

Lastly, Zambia is visited by about 100 species of Palearctic migrant including birds such as Corncrake Crex crex, Great Snipe Gallinago media, Thrush Nightingale Luscinia luscinia, Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum and Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis.

Important Bird Areas

Tue, 02/05/2013 - 15:45 -- abc_admin

Black-cheeked Lovebird Agapornis nigrigenis, Machile IBA, Zambia

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

See the 'Map' section for a detailed map of Zambia showing the position of the IBAs.

In Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands (BirdLife International 2001), 31 IBAs are listed for Zambia. The Zambian IBA network has now been updated and revised and comprises 42 IBAs. These have been documented in detail in Important Bird Areas in Zambia (LEONARD, P.M. 2005) from which the following map and IBA list is taken.

1 Hillwood 22 Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage
2 Source of the Zambezi 23 North Swaka
3 Chitunta Plain 24 Wonder Gorge
4 Jimbe Drainage 25 Kasanka NP
5 West Lunga NP and Lukwakwa GMA 26 Lavushi Manda NP
6 Minyanya Plain 27 Mutinondo Wilderness
7 Mbulo Forest 28 Bangweulu Swamps
8 Liuwa Plain NP 29 North Luangwa NP
9 Barotse Floodplains 30 Shiwa Ng’andu
10 Sioma Ngwezi NP 31 Luapula Mouth
11 Simungoma 32 Lusenga Plain NP
12 Machile 33 Kalungwishi
13 Mosi-oa-Tunya NP & Batoka Gorge 34 Mweru Wantipa NP
14 Kafue NP 35 Sumbu NP & Tondwa GMA
15 Kafue Flats 36 Saise River
16 Nkanga River Conservation Area 37 Uningi Pans
17 Mutulanganga 38 Nyika NP
18 Lower Zambezi NP 39 Mafinga Mountains
19 Chisamba 40 South Luangwa NP
20 Lukanga Swamp 41 Lukususi NP
21 Imanda 42 Nyanje Hills

For further details, download the country IBAs from BirdLife International.


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