Zambia Birding: Zambia had a bird list of around 750 recorded species, which is a fair number when considering that most of the country falls under the Zambezian biome, which is made up largely of Miombo Woodland. It has only one true endemic species, Chaplin’s Barbet, though Black-cheeked Lovebird is almost an endemic, occurring marginally across the border into Namibia (though the status of birds in Namibia is uncertain). Considering the size of the country, the rates of endemism are very low, but where Zambia comes into its own in birding terms is the Miombo specials of south-central Africa, Zambia being one of the most accessible places for these species, and also offering a shot at some of the Congolese rainforest specials in the far north-west of the country. Another feather in Zambia’s cap is the Shoebill population of the Bangweulu Swamps, this strange, pale ‘stork’ being one of Africa’s most sought-after birds.
In birding terms, Zambia can be divided into Eastern and Western regions.
Eastern Zambia includes several key birding and wildlife regions, such as the Bangweulu Swamps, home to the Shoebill and large numbers of endemic Black Lechwe; Kasanka National Park, famous for the millions of Straw-coloured Fruit Bats which arrive in early December; North and South Luangwa National Parks, two of Africa’s great big game parks; the pristine Miombo of Mutinondo Wilderness, and several other smaller National Parks and game management areas. Major habitats include Miombo Woodland, Mushito (a moist evergreen forest) and Papyrus Swamp. Most of Eastern Zambia, and some of the prime sites of Western Zambia, can be incorporated into a concise route doable by road, while South Luangwa is best accessed by charter flight from Lusaka or by road as part of an extended Zambia / Malawi trip.
Significant Birding Spots: Kasanka National Park, the Bangweulu Swamps, Mutinindo Wilderness, Shiwa Ng’andu, South Luangwa National Park, North Luangwa National Park, Luambe National Park, Lukusuzi National Park.
A few significant species: Shoebill, Ross’s Turaco, Bocage’s Akalat, Anchieta’s Barbet, Bar-winged Weaver, Spotted Creeper, Wattled Crane, Miombo Scrub-Robin, Black-necked Eremomela, Anchieta’s Tchagra, Souza’s Shrike, White-winged Babbling Starling, Swamp Nightjar.
The western ‘bulge’ of Zambia incorporates the capital city of Lusaka as well as Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World; the wilderness regions of Lower Zambezi and Kafue National Parks; some lesser known parks such as Lochinvar, Blue Lagoon and Liuwa Plain; and the exciting birding near the headwaters of the Zambezi River near the Congo border in the north-west. The western region is also where the endemic Chaplin’s Barbet can be found among the fruiting fig trees of the Choma district, and where the near endemic Black-cheeked Lovebird can be found in the dry woodland west of Livingstone. Some of these places are well developed in terms of tourism, others are distinctly undeveloped and require a hefty dose of the adventuring sprit, but either way Western Zambia is a must on the regional birding itinerary.
Significant Birding Spots: Mwinilunga, the Kafue Floodplain, Lower Zambezi, Livingstone.
A few significant species: Chaplin’s Barbet, Black-cheeked Lovebird, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Shelly’s Sunbird, Black-collared Bulbul, Füllerborn’s and Grimwood’s Longclaws, Purple-throated Cuckoo-Shrike, Black-necked Eremomela, Laura’s Woodland Warbler, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Böhm’s Bee-eater, Barreed Long-tailed Cuckoo, Buff-throated Apalis.