Southern Africa

390,757 km²


Afrotropical avifauna
Approximately 680 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 | Stripe-cheeked Bulbul
Roberts’s Warbler | Briar Warbler
Chirinda Apalis (ESS vumbae)
Swynnerton’s Robin (swynnertoni)

Birds best found in two territories of the ABC region 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)

Zambezian endemics or near-endemics occurring in Zimbabwe, including ESS
Coppery-tailed Coucal
Slaty Egret
Racket-tailed Roller
Whyte’s Barbet
Dickinson’s Kestrel
Lilian’s Lovebird | Nyasa Lovebird
Cinnamon-breasted Tit (B2)
Miombo Tit
Tinkling Cisticola (ESS vicinior)
Chirping Cisticola
Stierling’s Wren-Warbler
Hartlaub’s Babbler
Miombo Blue-eared Starling
Meves’s Starling
Boulder Chat (NE)
Kurrichane Thrush
Collared Palm Thrush
Miombo Rock Thrush
Arnot’s Chat | White-headed Black Chat
Eastern Miombo Sunbird
White-bellied Sunbird | White-breasted Sunbird
Red-throated Twinspot | Peters’s Twinspot
Brown Firefinch
Zambezi Indigobird | Green Indigobird
Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah
Black-eared Seedeater

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

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

Other taxa of interest (see also under Birding Sites), including ESS
Common Ostrich
White-backed Duck
African Pygmy Goose
Cape Shoveler
Cape Teal
Southern Pochard
Maccoa Duck
Southern Crested Guineafowl
Crested Francolin
Shelley’s Francolin
Blue Quail
Red-billed Spurfowl
Swainson’s Spurfowl
Red-necked Spurfowl
Rufous-cheeked Nightjar
Fiery-necked Nightjar
Square-tailed Nightjar
Pennant-winged Nightjar
Böhm’s Spinetail | Bat-like Spinetail
Mottled Swift (ESS gelidus)
African Black Swift (hollidayi + oreobates)
Horus Swift
Grey Go-away-bird
Purple-crested Turaco
Kori Bustard
Denham’s Bustard
Red-crested Korhaan | Red-crested Bustard
White-browed Coucal
Burchell’s Coucal
Black Coucal
Thick-billed Cuckoo
Double-banded Sandgrouse
African Finfoot
Striped Flufftail
Lesser Moorhen
Striped Crake
Grey Crowned Crane
Wattled Crane
Black-rumped Buttonquail
Long-toed Lapwing
Blacksmith Lapwing
White-crowned Lapwing
Senegal Lapwing
Crowned Lapwing
Greater Painted-snipe
Lesser Jacana
African Snipe
Three-banded Courser
Rock Pratincole
African Skimmer
Saddle-billed Stork
White-backed Night Heron
Rufous-bellied Heron
Cape Vulture | Cape Griffon
Western Banded Snake Eagle | Banded Snake Eagle
Verreaux’s Eagle
Augur Buzzard
African Marsh Harrier
African Grass Owl
Southern White-faced Owl
Marsh Owl
Red-faced Mousebird
Common Scimitarbill
Southern Ground Hornbill
Southern Red-billed Hornbill
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
Crowned Hornbill
Trumpeter Hornbill
Lilac-breasted Roller
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
Half-collared Kingfisher
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater
White-fronted Bee-eater
Olive Bee-eater | Madagascar Bee-eater
Southern Carmine Bee-eater
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird
Acacia Pied Barbet | Pied Barbet
Black-collared Barbet
Crested Barbet
Green-backed Honeybird
Scaly-throated Honeyguide
Bennett’s Woodpecker
Bearded Woodpecker
Greater Kestrel
Taita Falcon
Meyer’s Parrot
Cape Batis (ESS kennedyi)
Chinspot Batis
Black-throated Wattle-eye
Black-backed Puffback | Southern Puffback (hamatus/okavangensis)
Southern Boubou (savensis)
White-breasted Cuckooshrike
Magpie Shrike
Southern White-crowned Shrike | White-crowned Shrike
Southern Fiscal
Black-headed Oriole | African Black-headed Oriole
Cape Crow
Southern Black Tit
Ashy Tit
Grey Penduline Tit | African Penduline Tit (ESS rankinei)
Cape Penduline Tit | Southern Penduline Tit
Eastern Nicator
Dusky Lark
Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark
Sabota Lark
Fawn-colored Lark
Monotonous Lark
Melodious Lark | Latakoo Lark
Red-capped Lark
Sombre Greenbul
Yellow-bellied Greenbul
Terrestrial Brownbul
Pearl-breasted Swallow
White-throated Swallow
South African Cliff Swallow | South African Swallow
Red-faced Crombec
Long-billed Crombec | Cape Crombec
Livingstone’s Flycatcher
Lesser Swamp Warbler (leptorhynchus/cunenensis/gracilirostris)
Little Rush Warbler (transvaalensis)
Lazy Cisticola (nyika)
Rufous-winged Cisticola (isodactylus)
Levaillant’s Cisticola (tinniens)
Neddicky | Piping Cisticola
Pale-crowned Cisticola (cinnamomeus)
Wing-snapping Cisticola (ayresii)
Black-chested Prinia (nubilosa)
Bar-throated Apalis (rhodesiae)
Green-backed Camaroptera (constans)
Yellow-bellied Eremomela
Green-capped Eremomela | Greencap Eremomela
Burnt-necked Eremomela
Chestnut-vented Warbler (orpheana)
Southern Yellow White-eye (tongensis)
Arrow-marked Babbler
Southern Hyliota | Mashona Hyliota (australis)
African Spotted Creeper (xylodromus)
Cape Starling
Red-winged Starling
Yellow-billed Oxpecker
Red-billed Oxpecker
Groundscraper Thrush
Bearded Scrub Robin
Marico Flycatcher | Mariqua Flycatcher
African Dusky Flycatcher (ESS mesica)
White-throated Robin-Chat
Mocking Cliff Chat (ESS odica)
Capped Wheatear
Western Violet-backed Sunbird (nyassae)
Amethyst Sunbird
Marico Sunbird | Mariqua Sunbird
Purple-banded Sunbird
Yellow-throated Bush Sparrow
Cape Sparrow
Great Sparrow | Great Rufous Sparrow
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow
Red-billed Buffalo Weaver
White-browed Sparrow-Weaver
Scaly-feathered Weaver | Scaly Weaver
Spectacled Weaver (crocatus/suahelicus)
Holub’s Golden Weaver
Southern Brown-throated Weaver
Lesser Masked Weaver
Southern Masked Weaver
Southern Red Bishop
Yellow Bishop
Yellow-mantled Widowbird
Red-collared Widowbird
Swee Waxbill
Black-faced Waxbill
Locust Finch
Red-headed Finch
Violet-eared Waxbill
Blue Waxbill | Southern Cordon-bleu
Jameson’s Firefinch
Purple Indigobird
Dusky Indigobird | Variable Indigobird
Shaft-tailed Whydah
Long-tailed Paradise Whydah | Eastern Paradise Whydah
Cuckoo-finch | Parasitic Weaver
Cape Wagtail
Cape Longclaw | Orange-throated Longclaw
Rosy-throated Longclaw | Rosy-breasted Longclaw
Wood Pipit | Woodland Pipit (frondicolus)
Buffy Pipit
Striped Pipit
Bushveld Pipit | Bush Pipit
Black-throated Canary
Lark-like Bunting
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting
Cape Bunting

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

National bird
African Fish Eagle | Hungwe | Ikhozi

Miombo woodland, montane forest and grassland, upland marshes, arid savanna

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

Nyanga Highlands, Bvumba Mountains and Chimanimani Mountains for Stripe-cheeked Greenbul, Cape Grassbird, Barratt’s Warbler, Roberts’s Warbler, Chirinda Apalis, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Olive Thrush, Swynnerton’s Robin, Lesser Seedcracker and Cape Canary as well as other highland species including African Black Duck, Common Quail, Scarce Swift, Livingstone’s Turaco, African Olive Pigeon, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Cape Eagle-Owl, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, White-eared Barbet, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Rock Kestrel, Pale Batis, Black-fronted Bushshrike, Olive Bushshrike, Bokmakierie, Grey Cuckooshrike, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, White-necked Raven, White-tailed Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Blue Swallow, Greater Striped Swallow, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Wailing Cisticola, Bar-throated Apalis (quarta/arnoldi), Orange Ground Thrush, African Dusky Flycatcher (subadusta), Cape Robin-Chat, White-starred Robin, Olive Sunbird, Bronzy Sunbird, Malachite Sunbird, Dark-backed Weaver, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Green Twinspot, Grey Waxbill, Red-faced Crimsonwing and Mountain Wagtail
Haroni-Rusitu Confluence for Green Malkoha, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Pallid Honeyguide, Little Spotted Woodpecker, African Broadbill, Woodwards’ Batis, Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Common Square-tailed Drongo, Lowland Tiny Greenbul, Red-winged Prinia, Black-headed Apalis and Black-bellied Starling
Gonarezhou National Park (NP) for Lemon-breasted Canary
Harare Wetlands for upland marsh species including Streaky-breasted Flufftail
Christon Bank and Gosho Park for miombo woodland species
Hwange NP for Bradfield’s Hornbill and arid savanna species including Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Burchell’s Sandgrouse, Double-banded Courser, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Crimson-breasted Shrike, African Red-eyed Bulbul, Barred Wren-Warbler, Southern Pied Babbler, Burchell’s Starling and Kalahari Scrub Robin
Four Corners for Schalow’s Turaco, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Swamp Boubou, Greater Swamp Warbler, Chirping Cisticola, Hartlaub’s Babbler, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow and Brown Firefinch

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

Birding Eastern Zimbabwe – 10,000 Birds by James Currie (2012)

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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