South-Central Africa

752,620 km²



Strongly Afrotropical avifauna
Approximately 780 recorded species

Chaplin’s Barbet (Kevin Ravno)
Lilian’s Lovebird (Paul van Giersbergen)
Fülleborn’s Longclaw (Pete Morris)

Endemics (E)
White-chested Tinkerbird (DD)
Chaplin’s Barbet | Zambian Barbet (VU)
Black-cheeked Lovebird (VU)

Near-endemics (NE)
Shelley’s Sunbird

Birds best found in Zambia but occurring more widely (BT)
Chestnut-headed Flufftail
Rufous-bellied Heron
Laura’s Woodland Warbler (eustacei)
Bamboo Warbler (kungwensis)
Dambo Cisticola | Cloud-scraping Cisticola (dambo)
Bar-winged Weaver
Red-throated Twinspot | Peters’s Twinspot
Grimwood’s Longclaw

Birds occurring in only two territories of the ABC region but not NE or BT (1/2)
Katanga Masked Weaver
Tanzanian Masked Weaver

Birds best found in two territories but occurring in more (B2)
Whyte’s Francolin | Rufous-throated Francolin
Streaky-breasted Flufftail
Anchieta’s Barbet
Miombo Pied Barbet
Margaret’s Batis | Boulton’s Batis (kathleenae)
Angola Lark
Black-and-rufous Swallow
Livingstone’s Flycatcher
Luapula Cisticola
Black-necked Eremomela
Sharp-tailed Starling
Bocage’s Akalat (chapini)
Böhm’s Flycatcher
Bannerman’s Sunbird
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Weaver
Bocage’s Weaver
Locust Finch
Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah
Fülleborn’s Longclaw
Short-tailed Pipit
Reichard’s Seedeater
Black-eared Seedeater

Black-necked Eremomela (Pete Morris)
Anchieta’s Barbet (Pete Morris)

Proposed new species or splits not yet accepted by IOC
Chestnut-breasted Francolin
Crawshay’s Francolin
Cranch’s Spurfowl
Rwenzori Nightjar
Black-faced Go-away-bird
Barrow’s Bustard
Ngami Owlet
White-faced Barbet (BT)
Northern Olive Woodpecker
Grey-headed Parrot (B2)
East African Pitta (BT)
Anchieta’s Tchagra
Eastern Saw-wing
African Reed Warbler
Zambian Yellow Warbler (BT)
Rufous-crowned Cisticola (awemba)
Angola Cisticola (angolensis)
Northern Olive-flanked Ground Robin | Rusty-flanked Robin-Chat (macclounii)
Stuhlmann’s Weaver (nyikae)
Red-backed Mannikin (woltersi)
Spectacled Quailfinch (ESS smithersi)
Black-chinned Quailfinch (fuscata)
Benguela Seedeater (B2)

Livingstone’s Flycatcher (Pete Morris)
Miombo Pied Barbet (Pete Morris)
Bannerman’s Sunbird (Nik Borrow)

Other taxa of interest, including endemic subspecies (ESS)
White-backed Duck
African Pygmy Goose
Southern Crested Guineafowl
Blue Quail
Red-billed Spurfowl
Natal Spurfowl
Hildebrandt’s Spurfowl
Swainson’s Spurfowl
Rufous-cheeked Nightjar
Pennant-winged Nightjar
Böhm’s Spinetail | Bat-like Spinetail
African Black Swift (hollidayi)
Ross’s Turaco
Schalow’s Turaco
Denham’s Bustard
Red-crested Korhaan
Coppery-tailed Coucal
Thick-billed Cuckoo
Yellow-throated Sandgrouse
Double-banded Sandgrouse
African Finfoot
Lesser Moorhen
Striped Crake
Grey Crowned Crane
Wattled Crane
Black-rumped Buttonquail
Long-toed Lapwing
Greater Painted-snipe
Lesser Jacana
Bronze-winged Courser
Rock Pratincole
African Skimmer
Slaty Egret
Western Banded Snake Eagle
Ovambo Sparrowhawk
African Grass Owl
Pel’s Fishing Owl
Southern Ground Hornbill
Southern Red-billed Hornbill
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
Bradfield’s Hornbill
Pale-billed Hornbill
Trumpeter Hornbill
Racket-tailed Roller
Blue-breasted Bee-eater (bangweoloensis)
Böhm’s Bee-eater
Olive Bee-eater
Southern Carmine Bee-eater
Whyte’s Barbet (ESS buttoni)
Acacia Pied Barbet
Spot-flanked Barbet
Crested Barbet
Pallid Honeyguide
Bennett’s Woodpecker
Little Spotted Woodpecker | Green-backed Woodpecker
Dickinson’s Kestrel
Lilian’s Lovebird | Nyasa Lovebird
African Broadbill
Black-throated Wattle-eye
Black-fronted Bushshrike (manningi)
Swamp Boubou
Crimson-breasted Shrike
Retz’s Helmetshrike
White-breasted Cuckooshrike
Purple-throated Cuckooshrike
Magpie Shrike
Southern White-crowned Shrike
Souza’s Shrike
Common Square-tailed Drongo
Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher | African Crested Flycatcher
White-necked Raven
White-tailed Blue Flycatcher
White-winged Black Tit
Southern Black Tit
Rufous-bellied Tit
Miombo Tit
Eastern Nicator
Dusky Lark
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark
Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark (ESS harti)
Fischer’s Sparrow-Lark
Fawn-colored Lark
Eastern Clapper Lark (ESS jappi)
Monotonous Lark
Pink-billed Lark (ESS makawai + harti)
Sombre Greenbul
Grey-olive Greenbul
Cabanis’s Greenbul
Angola Swallow
Pearl-breasted Swallow
White-throated Swallow
Red-throated Cliff Swallow
Moustached Grass Warbler (ESS luangwae)
Long-billed Crombec | Cape Crombec (adelphe)
Red-capped Crombec (gephyra)
Evergreen Forest Warbler
White-winged Swamp Warbler
Trilling Cisticola (lufira)
Lazy Cisticola (nyika)
Rattling Cisticola (ESS bensoni)
Tinkling Cisticola
Chirping Cisticola
Levaillant’s Cisticola
Neddicky | Piping Cisticola
Long-tailed Cisticola | Tabora Cisticola
Desert Cisticola (ESS  lobito)
Cloud Cisticola (anselli)
Pale-crowned Cisticola
Black-chested Prinia
Red-winged Prinia
Brown-headed Apalis
Miombo Wren-Warbler
Stierling’s Wren-Warbler
Green-capped Eremomela
Burnt-necked Eremomela
Hartlaub’s Babbler
Yellow-bellied Hyliota (barbozae)
Southern Hyliota (inornata)
African Spotted Creeper
Cape Starling
Miombo Blue-eared Starling
Meves’s Starling
Burchell’s Starling
Babbling Starling
Yellow-billed Oxpecker
Red-billed Oxpecker
Boulder Chat
Groundscraper Thrush
Kurrichane Thrush
Bearded Scrub Robin
Miombo Scrub Robin
Grey Tit-Flycatcher
Marico Flycatcher
Swamp Flycatcher (ESS grimwoodi)
African Dusky Flycatcher
Collared Palm Thrush
Miombo Rock Thrush
Sooty Chat
Arnot’s Chat
Capped Wheatear
Anchieta’s Sunbird
Western Violet-backed Sunbird
Eastern Miombo Sunbird
Western Miombo Sunbird
Purple-banded Sunbird
Oustalet’s Sunbird (rhodesiae)
White-bellied Sunbird
Northern Grey-headed Sparrow
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow (ESS luangwae)
Yellow-throated Bush Sparrow
Red-billed Buffalo Weaver
Scaly-feathered Weaver | Scaly Weaver
Slender-billed Weaver
Southern Brown-throated Weaver
Southern Masked Weaver
Dark-backed Weaver | Forest Weaver
Olive-headed Weaver
Marsh Widowbird (hartlaubi)
Long-tailed Widowbird (delacouri)
Magpie Mannikin
Black-faced Waxbill
Grey Waxbill | Black-tailed Waxbill
Fawn-breasted Waxbill
Violet-eared Waxbill
Blue Waxbill | Southern Cordon-bleu
Orange-winged Pytilia
Jameson’s Firefinch
Brown Firefinch
Purple Indigobird
Dusky Indigobird
Zambezi Indigobird
Shaft-tailed Whydah
Long-tailed Paradise Whydah | Eastern Paradise Whydah
Cuckoo-finch | Parasitic Weaver
Rosy-throated Longclaw
Wood Pipit | Woodland Pipit
Buffy Pipit
Striped Pipit
Bushveld Pipit | Bush Pipit
Black-faced Canary
Black-throated Canary
Vincent’s Bunting
Cabanis’s Bunting

African Finfoot (Pete Morris)
Wattled Crane (John Caddick)
Böhm’s Spinetail (Pete Morris)
Souza’s Shrike (Pete Morris)
African Fish Eagle (Kevin Ravno)

National bird
African Fish Eagle | Cembe

Miombo woodland, dambo grasslands, mopane woodland, moist savanna, gallery forest

Tanzania – Malawi mountains Endemic Bird Area
North-west Zambia Secondary Area (SA)
South-west Tanzanian swamps SA
Southern Zambia SA
42 Important Bird Areas

Nkanga River Conservation Area for Chaplin’s Barbet
Mulobezi and Simungoma for Black-cheeked Lovebird
Siavonga area for African Pitta
Bangweulu wetlands for Shoebill
Mutinondo Wilderness and Kafue National Park for miombo woodland species
Nyika Plateau and Mafinga Mountains for montane species, including Scarce Swift, African Olive Pigeon, Dusky Turtle Dove, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Bar-tailed Trogon, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Moustached Tinkerbird, Malawi Batis, Fülleborn’s Boubou, White-tailed Crested Flycatcher, Black-browed Greenbul, Placid Greenbul, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Sharpe’s Greenbul, White-headed Saw-wing, Blue Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Black-lored Cisticola, Churring Cisticola, Wailing Cisticola, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Bar-throated Apalis, Chapin’s Apalis, African Hill Babbler, Brown Parisoma, Slender-billed Starling, Waller’s Starling, Orange Ground Thrush, Abyssinian Thrush, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, White-chested Alethe, Cape Robin-Chat, White-starred Robin, Sharpe’s Akalat, Bronzy Sunbird, Malachite Sunbird, Scarlet-tufted Sunbird, Whyte’s Double-collared Sunbird, Forest Double-collared Sunbird, Bertram’s Weaver, Montane Widowbird, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Western Citril, Southern Citril, Yellow-browed Seedeater and Yellow-crowned Canary
Mwinilunga for lowland forest species, including Western Crested Guineafowl, Blue Malkoha, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Afep Pigeon, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, White-spotted Flufftail, Forbes’s Plover, Spot-breasted Ibis, Vermiculated Fishing Owl, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, White-bellied Kingfisher, Shining-blue Kingfisher, Least Honeyguide, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Gorgeous Bushshrike, African Shrike-flycatcher, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Western Nicator, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Honeyguide Greenbul, Black-collared Bulbul, Whistling Cisticola, White-chinned Prinia, Buff-throated Apalis, Salvadori’s Eremomela, Spotted Thrush-Babbler, Fraser’s Rufous Thrush, Splendid Starling, Cassin’s Flycatcher, Sooty Flycatcher, Grey-winged Robin-Chat, Grey-chinned Sunbird, Blue-throated Brown Sunbird, Green-throated Sunbird, Orange-tufted Sunbird, Bates’s Sunbird, Compact Weaver and Black-bellied Seedcracker

TIMING (Sep–Oct, Dec)
Best at the start of the rains when most birds breed (Sep–Dec)
African Pitta starts to display in Dec, and Chestnut-headed Flufftail is best found Dec–Jan
Where Black-cheeked Lovebird occurs is more accessible in the dry season (Jul–Nov)
May–Jul is least productive

Birds of Africa (iOS or Android)
Birds of Zambia

Field guides
Birds of Africa South of the Sahara by Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan (2010)
Birds of Southern Africa by Ber van Perlo (2009)
A Field Guide to Zambian Birds Not Found in Southern Africa by Dylan R Aspinwall & Carl Beel (1998) covers species not treated in Sasol Birds of Southern Africa by Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboton, Niall Perrins, Dominic Rollinson & Peter Ryan (2020)
Pocket Guide Birds of Zambia by Rory McDougall & Derek Solomon (2021)
Common Birds of Zambia: a First Identification Guide by Zambian Ornithological Society (1993)

Sounds of Zambian Wildlife by Bob Stjernstedt features recordings of over 570 bird species
African Bird Sounds Vol 2: West and Central Africa by Claude Chappuis also covers most species
Bird Songs of Zambia by Bob Stjernstedt contains songs and calls of 415 species

Site guides
Southern African Birdfinder by Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode & Jonathan Rossouw (2006)

Further reading
The Birds of Zambia: an Atlas and Handbook by Robert J Dowsett, Dylan R Aspinwall & Françoise Dowsett-Lemaire (2008)
A Contribution to the Ornithology of Zambia edited by Robert J Dowsett (2009)
The Zambia Barn Swallow Project 2007-2008 edited by Bennie van den Brink (2008)
Important Bird Areas in Zambia: Priority Sites for Conservation by Peter Leonard (2005)
Zambia by P M Leonard in Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority Sites for Conservation edited by Lincoln D C Fishpool & Michael I Evans (2001)
Zambia Bird Reports (1997-1999)
Articles in Bull. Zambian Orn. Soc. (1969-1984), Zambia Museums Journal, BWZ/ZOS Newsletter, Bull. ABC, etc.

Birding Zambia
Mosi-oa-Tunya – UNESCO World Heritage List

Facebook groups
Birding Zambia brings Zambia’s top birders and conservationists together, to help you enjoy Zambia’s astounding wilderness areas and its 782 bird species
BirdWatch Zambia Forum is for people interested in birds and birding in Zambia


BirdWatch Zambia (BWZ), formerly the Zambian Ornithological Society (ZOS), is the BirdLife Partner in Zambia

African Cuckoos are a group of evolutionary biologists studying brood parasites in the field in Choma, Zambia

The Zambia Barn Swallow Project was a collaboration between Stichting Hirundo and the BirdLife Partners in Zambia and the Netherlands

Other bird or conservation organisations active in Zambia include –
Wildlife and Environmental Conservation Society of Zambia (WECZ)
Zambia CBNRM (Community-Based Natural Resources Management) Forum
Kasanka Trust
Conservation South Luangwa (CSL)
Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ)
African Parks: Bangweulu Wetlands and Liuwa Plain
Peace Parks Foundation: Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA), Liuwa Plains-Mussuma TFCA, Lower Zambezi-Mana Pools TFCA and Malawi-Zambia TFCA
Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS)
WWF Zambia
The Nature Conservancy (TNC)

The Livingstone Museum’s Ornithology Section curates collections of bird specimens, eggs and nests

Shopping Cart