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.
You can purchase these and other books from WildSounds, one of the largest specialist UK mail-order companies, via our book and media sales page. Many birdwatchers are not only interested in birds, so we have added the most useful books for other taxa on this page.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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