Skip to content

22 Birds to Watch in Blantyre

Welcome to Blantyre, a vibrant city full of life and activity. Home to a diverse array of wildlife, the city boasts some of the most stunning birds in the world. From the majestic African Fish Eagle to the iconic Crested Crane, Blantyre is brimming with avian life.

The city is a popular destination for birdwatchers, who come from all over the world to observe the incredible variety of species. With plenty of habitats to explore, it’s no wonder that birding in Blantyre is an experience not to be missed.

1. Mallard


The mallard, or wild duck, is a species of dabbling duck that is found in a wide range of habitats. It is native to temperate and subtropical regions of the Americas, Eurasia, and North Africa.

It has also been introduced to a number of other countries, including New Zealand, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Falkland Islands, and South Africa. The mallard is an adaptable species, able to thrive in a variety of conditions.

They prefer wetland habitats such as marshes, swamps, estuaries, and wetlands, but can also be found in grasslands, meadows, and even agricultural fields.

They are often seen in urban parks and gardens, as well as on rivers and ponds.Mallards are medium-sized ducks, typically weighing between 1-2.5 pounds. They have a distinctive green head and yellow bill, with a white ring around their neck.

The male mallard is generally more colorful than the female, with a purple-blue chest and a blackish back. The mallard is a social bird, often seen in flocks during migration and breeding season.

They feed on a variety of plant and animal material, such as insects, seeds, and aquatic invertebrates. They will also scavenge for food, such as in fields or near farms.

The mallard is also a popular game bird, hunted for both sport and food. Overall, the mallard is a widespread species that is found in a variety of habitats.

Its ability to adapt to different environments, along with its popularity as a game bird, has allowed it to spread across the globe.

SpeciesA. platyrhynchos

2. Laughing Dove


The laughing dove is a species of pigeon that is native to a wide variety of habitats across Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Western Australia. It is a small bird, with a grey-brown plumage and a distinctive, low-pitched cooing call.

This species of pigeon is a resident breeder, meaning that it breeds in the same area year-round. It is also an introduced species in Australia, having been released from Perth Zoo in 1898.

After its release, the laughing dove quickly established itself in the wild, and it has been present in Australia ever since. This species of pigeon is not considered to be threatened and is common in many of the areas it inhabits.

They are known to form strong pair bonds, and will typically return to the same nesting site year after year. The laughing dove is a fascinating species and is a wonderful addition to any birdwatcher’s list.

SpeciesS. senegalensis

3. Pied Kingfisher


The Pied Kingfisher is a species of water kingfisher that is found all over Africa and Asia. This species of bird was first discovered and identified by a famous scientist named Carl Linnaeus in the year 1758.

After its discovery, the species was further studied and five different subspecies were identified.

These subspecies are differentiated based on physical features such as size, color, and other characteristics. Pied Kingfishers are usually found near bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and streams.

They have a black and white color pattern, with a white head, a white chest, and grey wings. They also have a long, pointed bill that they use to catch their prey, which mostly consists of small fish. Pied Kingfishers are also known to be quite agile and fast in the air.

They often hover over the water before diving down into the water to catch their prey. They usually make their nests in cliff faces or holes made in riverbanks.

The Pied Kingfisher is an important species in its ecosystems, as it helps to keep the populations of fish and other aquatic species in check. They also act as indicators of the health of the aquatic environment and can be used to measure water quality.

They are also an important source of food for many animals, such as otters, mongooses, and snakes. Overall, the Pied Kingfisher is a species of great importance, both in terms of the environment and the many people who depend on it for food.

It is our responsibility to ensure that their populations remain healthy in order to preserve their essential roles in the ecosystem.

SpeciesC. rudis

4. Denham’s Bustard


Denham’s bustard, also known as Stanley bustard or Stanley’s bustard is a species of large bird that belongs to the bustard family. It is native to Sub-Saharan Africa and can be found in a variety of habitats, such as agricultural land, grasslands, floodplains and burnt fynbos.

It is a resident species, but some of the populations that live farther inland tend to move to lower altitudes during winter. This species of bird is quite large and can grow up to 80 cm in length, with males typically larger than females.

It has a unique coloring, with a sandy brown body, and white and black markings on its wings and neck. Its head and neck are a deep brown color, and its tail is a pale gray. Denham’s bustard is a gregarious species, usually found in small flocks of up to 10 individuals.

It feeds on a variety of plant matter, such as seeds, fruits, and leaves, as well as small invertebrates.

It will also take advantage of any food sources it finds, such as insects, small mammals, and other birds.The Denham’s bustard has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2000, due to its declining population.

This is mainly caused by habitat loss and degradation, as well as hunting and trapping. Conservation efforts are being made to protect this species, such as creating protected areas, and educating communities about the importance of this species.

SpeciesN. denhami

5. Little Grebe


The little grebe, also known as dabchick, is a small water bird of the grebe family. Its genus name, takhus, is derived from Ancient Greek language and means ‘fast’, while ‘bapto’ is derived from Greek and means ‘to sink under’.

The species name, ruficollis, is derived from Latin and is composed of ‘rufus’ which means ‘red’, and ‘collis’ which is derived from Latin and means ‘necked’. This name was given to this species of grebe due to its reddish-brown neck.

The little grebe is an interesting species of water bird that can be found in many places around the world.

SpeciesT. ruficollis

6. Reed Cormorant


The reed cormorant is a bird that belongs to the cormorant family Phalacrocoracidae. It is also known as the long-tailed cormorant. This species of bird is native to much of Africa south of the Sahara, as well as Madagascar.

The reed cormorant is usually a resident species, but it does undertake some seasonal movements. These movements are most likely related to their breeding behavior, as well as their search for food.

For instance, the reed cormorant may move to different areas during the season in order to find food sources that are more abundant at different times of the year.

Additionally, they may migrate to different areas during times of breeding in order to find suitable nesting sites.

SpeciesM. africanus

7. Crowned Crane


The grey-crowned crane is a bird species belonging to the crane family, known by a number of different names. The scientific name for the species is Gruidae.

It is commonly referred to as the African crowned crane, golden crested crane, golden-crowned crane, East African crane, East African crowned crane, African crane, Eastern crowned crane, Kavirondo crane, South African crane and crested crane.

This species is the only crane found in Africa that is not considered threatened. It is found in wetlands, savanna grasslands, and farmlands throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa.

The grey-crowned crane is a large bird, measuring up to five feet in height, with a wingspan of up to seven feet. It is generally grey or white in colour, with a distinctive head crest, and red or yellow legs.

The grey-crowned crane is a social species, living in flocks of up to 20 individuals. They feed on a variety of items, including insects, small mammals, fish, reptiles, grain, and even carrion.

They are known for their courtship displays, which involve jumping, bowing, and dancing. The grey crowned crane is an important species for many African cultures and is featured in traditional dances, art, and folklore.

Its striking appearance and ability to survive in a variety of habitats make it an important species to study and conserve.

SpeciesB. regulorum

8. Red-eyed Dove


The red-eyed dove is a species that is found in Sub-Saharan Africa and is a very common bird. It is known for its distinctive red eyes and is considered to be a species of least concern in terms of conservation.

The IUCN Red List, which is an international conservation organization, has included the red-eyed dove in its list since 2004. This means that the species is not in immediate danger of extinction and that it is relatively safe.

The commonness of this species and its wide range in Sub-Saharan Africa make it a species worth conserving. Although the red-eyed dove is not considered to be endangered, conservation efforts are still needed in order to ensure that the species remains common in the future.

SpeciesS. semitorquata

9. White-browed Coucal


The white-browed coucal, also known as the lark-heeled cuckoo, is a species of cuckoo in the family Cuculidae. It is native to sub-Saharan Africa and typically inhabits thickly vegetated areas such as rank undergrowth and scrub, as well as coastal regions.

Burchell’s coucal is sometimes classified as a subspecies of the white-browed coucal. These birds have a unique call, consisting of a series of loud, deep croaks, and are usually solitary in nature.

They feed on insects, fruits, and small vertebrates, and may also scavenge for food. They construct their nests in trees, shrubs, and other vegetation, typically laying up to three eggs.

The white-browed coucal is a vulnerable species, threatened by habitat destruction and degradation. Conservation efforts are needed to protect this species and their habitats.

SpeciesC. superciliosus

10. Rock Pigeon


The rock dove, rock pigeon, or common pigeon is a type of bird from the Columbidae family. It is often referred to simply as a “pigeon”, and it is the ancestor of the domestic pigeon.

Domestic pigeons have been bred for centuries, and some of them have escaped captivity, leading to the formation of large populations of wild or “feral” pigeons throughout the world.

These feral pigeons, descendants of the rock dove, still resemble their ancestral species but have adapted to living independently in the wild.

SpeciesC. livia

11. Hornbills


Hornbills belong to a family of birds found in regions of Africa, Asia and Melanesia. These birds can be easily identified by their unique and distinctive feature of long, curved, and often brightly colored bills.

In addition to this, many hornbills also have a small, bony growth called a casque on the upper part of their mandible. The size of the hornbill family is quite diverse, with some species being quite small while others can be quite large.

Generally, they have a stocky body and relatively short legs and wings. Hornbills can be found in a variety of habitats, from open woodlands to tropical rainforests. Hornbills are omnivores, meaning that they will consume both animal and plant matter.

They feed mainly on fruits and small animals such as insects, lizards, and frogs. They also sometimes eat eggs, carrion, and small birds.

Some species of hornbill have been known to eat other animals such as snakes, bats, and even small mammals. Hornbills are considered to be a keystone species in their respective ecosystems, as they help to disperse the seeds of fruit-bearing trees, which in turn helps to regenerate the forests.

They are also known to be important pollinators of trees. Hornbills are social birds and are often found in small flocks. They are vocal birds and are known to make a variety of sounds from loud honking noises to softer chirping.

They are also known to be quite territorial and will defend their nests fiercely. Overall, the hornbill family is a fascinating group of birds, with a variety of unique characteristics and behaviors.

They are important species to the ecosystems in which they live, and their bright and colorful bills make them a joy to observe.


12. Scarlet-chested Sunbird


The scarlet-chested sunbird is a species of bird found in various parts of the world. It belongs to the family Nectariniidae, which is a large family of small, brightly-colored birds that can be found throughout the tropics and subtropics.

Generally, this species of bird is small in size, about 4.3 to 5.1 inches in length, and has a slender body. Its wings are usually a dark black or brown color and its tail is long and forked.

The most distinctive feature of the scarlet-chested sunbird is its bright red chest, which is usually accented with a darker shade of red. The head and throat of this species of bird are usually a bright blue or purple color, and their eyes are black.

They have long, curved beaks which they use to feed on nectar and insects. The scarlet-chested sunbird is an active species of bird and is often seen flitting from flower to flower in search of nectar and insects.

They also have a beautiful, high-pitched song that they use to attract mates. All in all, the scarlet-chested sunbird is a beautiful species of bird that is found in various parts of the world.

SpeciesC. senegalensis

13. Fork-tailed Drongo


The fork-tailed drongo, also known as the common drongo or African drongo, is a small bird found in many countries in Africa, ranging from the Sahel to South Africa. It prefers wooded habitats such as woodlands and savannas but is rarely found in dense forests.

It is a member of the Dicruridae family and is divided into four distinct subspecies – D. a adsimilis, D. a. badius, D. a. imerinae, and D. a. schoutedeni. These birds are mostly black or slate-gray in color and have long forked tails, giving them their name.

They have a strong, direct flight and often soar high above the ground on thermals. They are omnivorous, eating small insects, fruits, and nectar.

They have also been known to steal food from other birds. The fork-tailed drongo is a highly social bird that often forms large flocks. These flocks communicate with each other using a variety of calls and songs.

They are also quite vocal, with a variety of loud calls that can be heard over long distances. These birds are also known to be quite intelligent and have been observed using tools to forage for food.

They have also been known to mimic the calls of other species, which can help them to identify potential prey. Overall, the fork-tailed drongo is a fascinating bird that is found in many parts of Africa.

Its unique features, social behavior, and intelligence make it a species worth studying and protecting.

SpeciesD. adsimilis

14. Heron


Herons are a type of bird that can be found in both fresh and coastal areas. They are part of the family Ardeidae and there are currently 72 species of herons in existence. These species can also be referred to as egrets or bitterns.

Herons are best recognized by their long legs and necks. They can be found in a variety of habitats, from wetlands to woodlands, and their diet consists mainly of fish and other aquatic life. Herons can be found all over the world, from North America to Europe, Africa, and Asia.

They are an important part of the ecosystem, helping to maintain the balance of the environment by controlling insect populations and representing a food source for other animals.


15. Red-winged Francolin


The red-winged francolin is a species of bird that is part of the Phasianidae family.

It is native to a number of countries in Africa, including Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Eswatini, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. It is a ground-dwelling bird, typically found in grasslands and open woodlands.

The Elgon francolin is a species of bird that is believed to be a hybrid of the red-winged francolin and the moorland francolin. It is found in the same countries as the red-winged francolin, although it is not as common.

This species is also a ground-dwelling bird, typically found in higher altitudes than its counterpart. The Elgon francolin is unique in its appearance, with a mottled brown and white coloring and streaks of red and orange on their wings.

SpeciesS. levaillantii

16. Bustard


Bustards are a family of large, terrestrial birds known as Otididae. They are found in dry grasslands and steppes in the Old World. They range in size from 40 to 150 cm, so they can be quite large. Bustards can be divided into two main groups: floricans and korhaans.

Floricans are found in open areas in tropical and subtropical regions. They are also known for their loud and distinctive calls. Korhaans are found in Africa and Eurasia.

They have a distinctive white patch on their wings and they are known for their elaborate courtship displays. Bustards typically feed on the ground, but they are able to fly to escape predators. They are shy and wary birds that usually live in small groups.


17. Common Waxbill


The common waxbill, or St Helena waxbill, is a species of passerine bird belonging to the estrildid finch family. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, it is a small bird, usually around five to six inches in length.

It has a distinctive call and a bright red bill, which gives it its common name.

The species has been introduced to many other regions of the world, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 10,000,000 km², making it one of the most widely distributed species of bird. The common waxbill is found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, savannas, and woodlands.

They inhabit areas with plenty of shrubs and trees, which provide them with food and shelter. The species feeds mainly on grass and weed seeds, but will also consume insects and other small invertebrates.

They are gregarious birds, usually seen in flocks of up to twenty individuals. The common waxbill is a monogamous species, with both parents taking part in nest construction and chick rearing.

The female usually lays three to seven eggs, which are incubated for around two weeks before hatching.

The chicks are independent after around three weeks, and the parents will often mate and have a second brood. The common waxbill is a hardy species, and its introduction to other regions of the world has had a positive effect on local bird populations.

Its presence in some areas has helped to reduce the number of crop pests, while the species is also a popular aviary bird. It is listed as being of least concern on the IUCN Red List, due to its wide distribution and stable population..

SpeciesE. astrild

18. Trumpeter Hornbill


The Trumpeter Hornbill is a medium-sized bird belonging to the hornbill family. It is between 58 and 65 cm in length, with males being slightly larger than females.

The most identifiable feature of the bird is its large grey casque, which is a bony protrusion on the bill that is smaller for females. The eyes of the bird are brown or red in color and have pink surrounding skin.

The body mass of the Trumpeter Hornbill ranges from 0.45 to 1 kg. The bird is quite similar to the Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, another species of hornbill that shares many physical characteristics, such as its distinctive bill shape and eye color.

The Trumpeter Hornbill is a unique and interesting species, making it a fascinating bird to observe and study.

SpeciesB. bucinator

19. Pel’s Fishing Owl


Pel’s Fishing Owl is a species of owl that belongs to the Strigidae family and is found in Africa. It usually prefers to live near rivers and lakes, where it can hunt for its food during the night.

It mainly feeds on fish and frogs which it snatches from the surface of the water. To roost and forage, the species generally chooses slow-moving rivers with large, overhanging trees.

This species has adapted to living in these areas, as it is able to take advantage of the slow water and the trees above to find its prey. The Pel’s Fishing Owl is an impressive bird, as it is able to make a living in a variety of environments.

SpeciesS. peli

20. Collared Palm Thrush


The Collared Palm Thrush is a species of bird that belongs to the family Muscicapidae.

This species of bird is native to a large region of eastern and central Africa, including Botswana, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The Collared Palm Thrush is typically found inhabiting dry savannah and subtropical or tropical moist shrubland habitats. These birds prefer to live in open woodlands and areas with thickets of tall grass or scrub.

They may also be found in lightly wooded agricultural areas, especially if there is a nearby source of water. The Collared Palm Thrush is an omnivorous species, primarily eating insects, as well as fruit, berries, and seeds.

This species of bird is relatively common and is not considered to be threatened.

SpeciesC. arquata

21. Lilian’s Lovebird


The Lilian’s lovebird, also known as the Nyasa lovebird, is a small African parrot species within the lovebird genus. It is easily identifiable by its bright green plumage, with a distinctive orange coloring on its upper chest and head.

The Lilian’s lovebird is the smallest parrot species in mainland Africa, measuring only 13 cm in length. Despite its beauty, the Lilian’s lovebird is quite uncommon in captivity and notoriously difficult to breed due to its delicate nature.

Captive breeding of Lilian’s lovebirds is highly specialized and requires a great amount of knowledge and expertise.

SpeciesA. lilianae

22. White-browed Sparrow-weaver


The white-browed sparrow-weaver is a small bird species found mainly in central and north-central parts of southern Africa. This brown-colored bird has a sparrow-like size and shape.

It is often seen in groups of two to eleven, usually consisting of one breeding pair and other non-reproductive individuals. This species has a white eyebrow, hence the name. Its bill is short and thick and its tail is short and broad.

The wings are short and rounded and the legs and feet are brown. The white-browed sparrow weaver is found in open habitats such as grasslands, woodlands, and savannahs. In these areas, they can be seen foraging for food on the ground, or in bushes and trees.

The diet of the white-browed sparrow weaver mainly consists of insects, seeds, and fruits. They are also known to eat nectar, and occasionally small lizards and frogs. The white-browed sparrow weaver is an active and social species.

They form colonies and can be seen flying and chirping together. They are known to be quite vocal and use a variety of calls including a loud ‘chip’ call.

During the breeding season, the pair will build a dome-shaped nest made of grass, twigs, and other materials, which they will line with feathers. The female usually lays two to four eggs which are incubated for approximately two weeks.

The chicks are then raised by both parents and are ready to leave the nest after another two weeks.The white-browed sparrow-weaver is a species of least concern according to the IUCN Red List. This is mainly due to its large range and stable population.

The species is not threatened by any major threats at this time.

SpeciesP. mahali


The birds of Blantyre are an integral part of the city’s ecosystem and provide a unique opportunity to observe a variety of species in their natural habitats.

Whether one is a birder or just enjoys the beauty of nature, Blantyre is a great place to visit and appreciate the avian diversity of the region.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *