Southern Africa

390,760 km²


Afrotropical avifauna
Approximately 670 recorded species

Swynnerton’s Robin (Pete Morris)
Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon (Paul van Giersbergen)
Boulder Chat (Paul van Giersbergen)

Near-endemics (NE)
Boulder Chat

Birds best found in Zimbabwe but occurring more widely (BT), including endemic subspecies (ESS)
Streaky-breasted Flufftail
Stripe-cheeked Greenbul
Roberts’s Warbler
Chirinda Apalis (ESS vumbae)
Swynnerton’s Robin (swynnertoni)

Birds occurring in only two territories of the ABC region but not NE or BT (1/2)
Melodious Lark

Birds best found in two territories but occurring in more (B2)
Natal Spurfowl
Cinnamon-breasted Tit (stenotopicus)
Cape Grassbird (excisus)
Barratt’s Warbler (priesti)
Gurney’s Sugarbird (ardens)
Olive Thrush (swynnertoni)
Lesser Seedcracker
Streaky-headed Seedeater (mendosa)
Cape Canary (griseitergum)

Proposed splits not yet accepted by IOC
Chestnut-breasted Flufftail (BT)
Ngami Owlet
Northern Olive Woodpecker
Grey-headed Parrot
East African Pitta
Anchieta’s Tchagra
Eastern Saw-wing (B2)
African Reed Warbler
Red-backed Mannikin
Spectacled Quailfinch

Striped Crake (Adam Riley)
Silvery-cheeked Hornbill (Adam Riley)

Other taxa of interest, including ESS
Common Ostrich
White-backed Duck
Southern Crested Guineafowl
Blue Quail
Red-billed Spurfowl
Swainson’s Spurfowl
Rufous-cheeked Nightjar
Böhm’s Spinetail
Mottled Swift (ESS gelidus)
African Black Swift (hollidayi + oreobates)
Livingstone’s Turaco
Red-crested Korhaan
Black Coucal
Thick-billed Cuckoo
Double-banded Sandgrouse
Burchell’s Sandgrouse
Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon
African Finfoot
White-winged Flufftail
Striped Flufftail
Lesser Moorhen
Striped Crake
Black-rumped Buttonquail
Lesser Jacana
African Snipe
Rock Pratincole
African Skimmer
Abdim’s Stork
Western Banded Snake Eagle
Verreaux’s Eagle
Pale Chanting Goshawk
Marsh Owl
Southern Ground Hornbill
Southern Red-billed Hornbill
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
Bradfield’s Hornbill
Silvery-cheeked Hornbill
Racket-tailed Roller
Southern Carmine Bee-eater
Whyte’s Barbet
Acacia Pied Barbet
Pallid Honeyguide
Dickinson’s Kestrel
Amur Falcon
Lilian’s Lovebird | Nyasa Lovebird
Black-throated Wattle-eye
Cape Batis (ESS kennedyi)
Woodwards’ Batis
Pale Batis
Black-fronted Bushshrike (sandgroundi)
Olive Bushshrike (interfluvius)
Gorgeous Bushshrike (quartus)
Bokmakierie (restrictus)
Crimson-breasted Shrike
Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike
White-breasted Cuckooshrike
Southern White-crowned Shrike
White-tailed Crested Flycatcher (swynnertoni)
Miombo Tit
Ashy Tit
Cape Penduline Tit
Dusky Lark
Sabota Lark
Fawn-colored Lark
Monotonous Lark
Yellow-streaked Greenbul
Lowland Tiny Greenbul
Blue Swallow
White-throated Swallow
Greater Striped Swallow
Long-billed Crombec
Red-capped Crombec
Livingstone’s Flycatcher
Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler (alacris)
Lazy Cisticola
Tinkling Cisticola (ESS vicinior)
Wailing Cisticola (mashona)
Luapula Cisticola
Chirping Cisticola
Pale-crowned Cisticola
Bar-throated Apalis (quarta + arnoldi)
Stierling’s Wren-Warbler
Barred Wren-Warbler
Green-capped Eremomela
Burnt-necked Eremomela
Chestnut-vented Warbler
Southern Pied Babbler
Hartlaub’s Babbler
Southern Hyliota (australis)
African Spotted Creeper (xylodromus)
Miombo Blue-eared Starling
Orange Ground Thrush (disruptans)
Kurrichane Thrush
Kalahari Scrub Robin
Marico Flycatcher
African Dusky Flycatcher (ESS mesica)
White-throated Robin-Chat
Collared Palm Thrush
Miombo Rock Thrush
Mocking Cliff Chat (ESS odica)
Arnot’s Chat
Bronzy Sunbird (arturi)
Eastern Miombo Sunbird
Copper Sunbird
Cape Sparrow
Great Sparrow
Scaly-feathered Weaver
Southern Brown-throated Weaver
Dark-backed Weaver (stictifrons)
Yellow-mantled Widowbird
Red-collared Widowbird
Yellow-bellied Waxbill (stuartirwini)
Swee Waxbill
Red-faced Crimsonwing (australis)
Grey Waxbill
Locust Finch
Red-headed Finch
Violet-eared Waxbill
Red-throated Twinspot
Brown Firefinch
Zambezi Indigobird
Cape Longclaw
Rosy-throated Longclaw
Wood Pipit (frondicolus)
Lemon-breasted Canary
Black-eared Seedeater
Lark-like Bunting
Cape Bunting (smithersii)
Cabanis’s Bunting

White-tailed Crested Flycatcher (Kevin Ravno)
Striped Flufftail (Kevin Ravno)

National bird
African Fish Eagle | Hungwe | Ikhozi

Montane forest, upland marshes, miombo woodland

Eastern Zimbabwe mountains Endemic Bird Area (EBA)
South-east African coast EBA
20 Important Bird Areas

Vumba and Nyanga mountains for montane species
Harare marshes for wetland species
Gosho Park for miombo species
Hwange National Park for savanna species

TIMING (Oct, Jan–Feb)
Best just before the rains when most miombo birds breed (Sep–Nov)
Streaky-breasted Flufftail and indigobirds are best Jan–Feb
Mid-winter (May–Aug) is least productive

RESOURCES (see also South Africa)
Birds of Africa (iOS or Android)
Roberts Bird Guide 2
Sasol eBirds Southern Africa

Field guides
Sasol Birds of Southern Africa by Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboton, Niall Perrins, Dominic Rollinson & Peter Ryan (2020)
Hwange Birds: a Guide to the Common Birds of Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe by Peter Steyn (1989)

Southern African Bird Sounds by Guy Gibbon

Site guides
Southern African Birdfinder by Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode & Jonathan Rossouw (2006)
Birdwatch Zimbabwe by Derek Solomon & Jacko Williams (1991)
A Birders’ Guide to Zimbabwe by Dave Sargeant (1992)
A Productive Birding Transect from Highland Zimbabwe to Coastal Mozambique by Chris Lotz (2012)

Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2 (SABAP2), a member of the African Bird Atlas Project

Further reading
Roberts – Birds of Southern Africa edited by P A R Hockey, W R J Dean & P G Ryan (2005)
Zimbabwe by Susan L Childes & Peter J Mundy in Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority Sites for Conservation edited by Lincoln D C Fishpool & Michael I Evans (2001)
Birds of the Botanic Garden, Harare, Zimbabwe by A J Beasley (1995)
The Birds of Zimbabwe by Michael P Stuart Irwin (1981)
Articles in Honeyguide (Journal of Zimbabwean and Regional Ornithology), The Babbler (Newsletter of BirdLife Zimbabwe), Arnoldia Zimbabwe and Ifa Lemvelo (Journal and Newsletter of the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe),The Wagtail (Peterhouse Bird Club Newsletter), Bull. ABC, etc.

UNESCO World Heritage List: Mana Pools National Park, Sapi and Chewore Safari Areas and Victoria Falls

Facebook groups
Everyday Birds – Zimbabwe is a non-partisan group to share everyday Zimbabwean birding experiences and to keep birders in the loop with events, Birdlife Zimbabwe outings and other birding occasions


BirdLife Zimbabwe (BLZ), formerly the Ornithological Society of Zimbabwe, is the BirdLife Partner in Zimbabwe

Other bird or conservation organisations active in Zimbabwe include –
Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe (WEZ)
The Zambezi Society
Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust
Friends of Hwange (FOH)
Conservation & Wildlife Fund (CWF)
Matobo Conservation Society (MCS)
Dambari Wildlife Trust (DWT)
Mat’land Chirpers
BirdLife Youth Club Zimbabwe
Conservation Society of Monavale (COSMO)
Bvumba Highlands Site Support Group (SSG)
Chimanimani SSG
Chinyaure SSG
Chipisa SSG
Markdale SSG
Nyanga SSG
Environment Africa
Biodiversity Foundation for Africa (BFA)
The Malilangwe Trust
The Bhejane Trust
Gonarezhou Conservation Trust/Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS)
African Parks: Matusadona National Park
Peace Parks Foundation: Lower Zambezi-Mana Pools Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA), Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) TFCA, Greater Mapungubwe TFCA and Great Limpopo TFCA
WWF Zimbabwe

The Ornithology Department, Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe has the largest collection of bird skins in Africa

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