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Zimbabwe is known to have over 700 bird species that have been recorded and all these stay in the different habitats across the country. It should however be noted that Zimbabwe’s Birding is not all that recognized and has roughly eight to ten tour guides who know about birds.
The best time to visit the Zimbabwe for bird watching is from October to March as this is the time that most immigrant birds fly into the country. There are a few things that you might need for birding like binoculars, identity books, hides and telescopes.
Birding destinations in Zimbabwe
There are several birding destinations when it comes to Zimbabwe and there are a lot of bird species located in these different birding spots and some of these are listed below:
The Victoria Falls
These are one of the best birding spots in Zimbabwe with a recorded number of 470 bird species found in the park the best time to visit is during the rainy summer season as birds are attracted to the different swamp, water bodies and the thick vegetation which act a habitats and also provide both food and water for the birds.
The Zambezi River bank is where you can view most of the birds as they laze around in search of food and water. You will need to go with a tour guide if you are to visit the Victoria Falls and you should also note that there are no birds to see during the winter.
There are different bird species in Victoria Falls and some of them are known to be migratory birds from European countries which fly into the country in search of warm weather and some of these bird species both endemic and migratory include the African paradise flycatcher, African fish Eagle, Verreaux’s black Eagle, Lilac breasted Roller, little egrets, Fork billed Drongo, Marabou stork, white browed sparrow weaver.
The Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens
These are located in Zimbabwe and they are known to be controlled by the Department of National parks and wildlife management. The botanical gardens have a wide range of bird species most especially the nectar eating birds.
You can go bird watching here throughout the year but note that the best time to watch the birds is from June to August as you will be able to watch a lot of bird species within this time. The different bird habitats include the woodland, wetlands and different grasslands.
Located only 41 kilometers from the city center, you are bound to view birds like the Grey rumped swallow, Miombo double collared sunbird, Cattle Egret, Greater blue eared starling, copper sunbird, spotted creeper, violet backed sunbird, Abdim’s stork, Red faced crombec, Amethyst sunbird, southern Hyliota and the yellow bellied Eremomela.
The Mana pools
The Mana pools have over 380 bird species that have been recorded and it is known as a good birding spot in Zimbabwe. Mana pools has different bird habitats some of which include the savannah grasslands, the Escarpment and the woodlands.
Mana pools is surrounded by the Zambezi River and most of the bird species can be seen lounging around the banks of the river and the different four pools that always get flooded especially when it rains heavily during the rainy season.
It has a lot of water birds and other dry land birds that are located in the area and these include the Nyasa lovebird, Carmine bee-eaters, African skimmer, rufous bellied Heron, the long toed lapwing, the Dwarf bittern, the Red necked falcon and the pel’s fishing owl.
South East Lowveld
This is located at the borders of South Africa and Mozambique and it is known to be a very dry and hot area in Zimbabwe. This has a lot if bird species found in its vicinity and some of these include the
Matobo National Park
Matobo National park has a recorded number of bird species of about 380. It is quite a small park with clearly marked birding routes that one can take while birding and also as one drives through. The park has quite a number of raptors which have become an interesting tourist attraction and it also has nocturnal bird species that have been recorded and this amount to nine nocturnal birds.
The best time to visit this park is from November to April as many birds can be seen during this time including the migratory birds. The different bird species include the Black collared barbet, Coqui Francolin, Black shouldered kite, Augur buzzard, the Black Eagle, Mocking cliff chat, African fish Eagle, the African crowned Eagle, Martial Eagle, Brown snake Eagle and the Verreaux’s Eagles.
The Honde Valley
The Honde valley has quite a number of different bird species some of which include the Pallid Honeyguide, Red faced Crimsoning, Black winged Bishop, Lesser seedcracker, Moustached grass warbler, Red throated twin spot, Green backed wood pecker, Anchieta’s Tchagra and the scarce swift.
The Mcllwaine Recreational Park
Mcllwaine Recreational Park has different bird habitats and some of these are detailed below with the different birds that are found on each of the habitats.
- The rocky outcrop, these have the Boulder chat which is a rare bird species.
- The woodland which covers a large part of the park is a good spot when it comes to birding and some of the bird species found in these woodlands include the Miombo Tit, Western violet backed sunbird, white breasted cuckooshrike, southern hyliota, Whyte’s Barbet, spotted creeper and the Retz’s Helmet shrike.
You will be sure to also see a variety of the kingfishers, starlings, woodpeckers, barbets and the hoopoes in the woodlands.
- The lake around the park is another habitat for the different bird species and some of these include the African Fish Eagle, The Augur Buzzard, Black eagle, African Marsh Harrier, Amur Falcon, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Ayres’ Hawk and the Eurasian Hobby.
- The grasslands located in the area also act as habitats for the different bird species and these include the Lesser Moorhen, Red collared widowbird, White winged widowbird, croaking Cisticola, Rosy throated longclaw, African purple swamphen, common Moorhen, the black crake and the pale crowned Cisticola.
Note that it also has night birds that are relatively hard to see during day and one of them is the Pennant winged Nightjar.
The Chimanimani Mountains
Chimanimani Mountains have a population of 186 bird species that have been recorded and these can be located in the different habitats around the Mountain and they include the woodland, grasslands, the various cedar trees and these harbor the different bird species which include Eagles, swifts, Laughing doves and swallows.
It has clearly marked out routes that are used for birding and birders can walk through the mountain tracks or drive though.
The Harare Botanical Gardens
Located almost next to the city center, Harare botanical gardens have different types of woodland which act as habitats for the birds and these are the lowveld Tree savannah, Zimbabwean Rainforest and the Miombo acacia.
Harare has over 215 bird species some of which migrate from Europe, south and central Africa and some of the bird species include the Bronze winged cursors, Red throated twinspot, Whyte’s Barbets, White breasted cuckooshrike, Black throated Wattle eye, Miombo tit, the tinkerbird, the Green backed woodpeckers and the Dusky Larks.
Matusadona National park
Located on the shores of Lake Kariba, Matusadona has a variety of bird species that have been recorded in the area with a population of 240 birds and most of the bird species located in the area are water birds.
In order to see the birds properly, one will need to take a walk along the banks of Kariba or take a boat ride to get a good view of the different birds. Some of the bird species found here include the African Finfoot, African fish eagle, the Malachote kingfisher, the Grey headed gull, the grey heron and the Reed cormorant.
Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park has a recorded number of bird species amounting to 420 species and it is commonly known due to the large number of raptors. A variety of bird species and some of them include the Racket tailed roller, the Southern ground Hornbill, Martial eagle, The pearl spotted Owlet, Kori Bustard, the Dickenson’s Kestrel, yellow billed kite, carmine bee-eater, the cape griffon, the yellow crimson breasted shrike, Bradfield’s hornbill, Rufous naped lark, Burchell’s sandgrouse, the Red billed francolin, the Bronze winged course and the African hobby.
The Vumba Mountains
The Vumba Mountains in Zimbabwe are a good birding spot for birding and the most commonly seen bird here is the Apalis Chirindensis and the best way to see other bird species is by climbing up the mountain. The best time to visit is between June and July since this is the time when the temperature does not drop below zero degrees.
The mountains are also a home to the Eastern saw wing, Robert’s warbler and the Swynnerton’s robin and all these mostly prefer to stay in places of higher altitudes.