Skip to content

24 Birds to Watch in Lilongwe

Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, is home to a wide variety of birds. The city is situated near Lake Malawi, which is home to many different species of waterfowl, and its lush vegetation provides a habitat for many other species of birds.

The city also contains several parks and nature reserves, which are excellent locations for bird watching and bird photography. The diversity of bird species in Lilongwe is amazing, ranging from egrets and herons to eagles, hawks, and vultures.

Seeing birds in their natural environment is a great way to experience the beauty of the city.

1. Helmeted Guineafowl


The helmeted guineafowl is a unique bird species belonging to the family Numididae. It is the only member of the genus Numida, and is native to Africa, mainly south of the Sahara desert.

This guineafowl has been widely introduced to other parts of the world, such as the West Indies, North America, Colombia, Brazil, Australia, and Europe. It has been domesticated in these regions and is now kept in many countries as a pet and game bird.

The helmeted guineafowl is a hardy bird and is easily recognizable by its distinctive black and white plumage and helmet-like crest. It feeds mainly on insects, fruits, and seeds, and can often be seen scratching in the ground foraging for food.

In addition, it has an array of loud vocalizations and is known to make a variety of loud calls and clucking noises.

The helmeted guineafowl is an important species in its native habitat, where it is hunted for its meat and for its feathers, which are used to make traditional headdresses.

SpeciesN. meleagris

2. Laughing Dove


The laughing dove is a species of small pigeon that is native to Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Western Australia. It is a resident breeder, meaning it breeds in the same area in which it lives.

In Western Australia, the laughing dove has been able to establish itself in the wild after being released from Perth Zoo in 1898. This species of bird is notable for its distinctive calls, which sound like a soft chuckle.

It has a grey-brown back, a pale pinkish breast, and a black-and-white neck patch. It feeds mainly on seeds and small insects and usually nests in small trees and shrubs.

The laughing dove is quite common in its range, although its numbers have been declining due to habitat destruction and other human activities.

SpeciesS. senegalensis

3. Great Cormorant


The great cormorant is a species of seabird that is common across the Northern Hemisphere and other regions around the world.

It is known by different names in different places, such as the black shag or kawau in New Zealand, the great black cormorant in the Northern Hemisphere, the black cormorant in Australia, and the large cormorant in India.

It is a member of the cormorant family and can be found in a variety of habitats, from coastal regions to inland lakes. The great cormorant is easily recognizable due to its black body with a yellowish-green bill and feet.

It has a wingspan of up to 1.2 meters and can reach a length of up to 90 cm. It feeds mainly on fish, although it can also eat crustaceans, amphibians, and other aquatic animals.

Its diet changes with the availability of prey, and the bird is capable of diving to depths of up to 10 meters in order to catch its food. The great cormorant is a social species and can often be seen in large flocks, roosting on rocks, or in trees near the water’s edge.

It nests in colonies, often building its nest in the same tree as other cormorants or in cavities in cliffs.

The birds lay two to four eggs per clutch and the chicks are cared for by both parents. Overall, the great cormorant is a widespread and successful species of seabird that is commonly found across the world.

It is highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, making it a resilient species that will continue to thrive in the future.

SpeciesP. carbo

4. African Black Duck


The African black duck (Anas sparsa) is a species of duck belonging to the genus Anas. It is closely related to the mallard group of ducks, but it has some distinct differences in its behavior and physical features.

These unique characteristics have led scientists to place the African black duck into a subgenus, Melananas, until further research can be done. The African black duck has a dark brown or black plumage, with lighter brown or gray feathers on its head, neck, and breast.

Its bill is yellowish-green and its legs are dark olive-green. It is similar in size to a mallard, and males and females look alike.

In terms of behavior, the African black duck is usually found in pairs or small groups, whereas the mallard is more likely to be found in larger flocks. The African black duck also tends to be more secretive than the mallard and is rarely seen in open areas.

Additionally, the African black duck’s call is usually quieter than the mallard’s.In conclusion, the African black duck is a species of duck that is closely related to the mallard, but it has some unique features that set it apart.

It has darker plumage and is found in smaller groups, and its behavior is more secretive. As a result, it has been placed in its own subgenus until further research can be conducted.

SpeciesA. sparsa

5. Livingstone’s Turaco


Livingstone’s turaco is a species of bird found in southeastern Africa. It belongs to the family Musophagidae, which includes many species of turacos, also known as plantain-eaters. The species is named after Charles Livingstone, the brother of famous explorer David Livingstone.

This species of bird is found in the subtropical lowlands of southeastern Africa, mainly in Zambia, Mozambique, and Malawi. Livingstone’s turaco is a medium-sized bird, with males reaching lengths of around 25 cm and females slightly smaller.

They have bright green and yellow feathers, with a red bill and legs. The birds typically live in woodlands, open scrublands, and swamps, where they forage for berries, fruits, and insects. They often build their nests in trees and lay one to two eggs at a time.

Livingstone’s turaco is a threatened species due to habitat destruction and hunting for food. Conservation efforts are underway to protect the species from extinction.

This includes reforestation of its natural habitats, as well as educational campaigns to promote the protection of the species.

SpeciesT. livingstonii

6. Turacos


The turacos are a family of birds known as Musophagidae. This family includes the plantain eaters and go-away-birds. In southern Africa, both of these birds are commonly referred to as “loeries”.

They have a unique type of feet known as semi-zygodactylous, which means that their fourth toe can be switched back and forth. This adaptation allows them to have a better grip while climbing and hopping between branches.

It also helps them to have a better grip on their prey while they are hunting. The combination of their strong feet and their diet of mainly fruits, plants, and insects make them an important part of the African ecosystem.


7. Guineafowl


Guineafowl are birds native to Africa and belong to the family Numididae in the order Galliformes. This family of birds is one of the oldest among the gallinaceous birds, meaning they have been around for a long time.

Phylogenetically, they are classified as having branched off from the core Galliformes, which are the main group of birds in the order, after the Cracidae, and before the Odontophoridae.

This means that guineafowl are closer in evolution to the Cracidae than they are to the Odontophoridae. This is important information as it provides us with insight into the evolution of this family of birds and their relationship to other birds in the order.


8. African Harrier-hawk


The African harrier-hawk is a bird of prey native to the continent of Africa. It is a medium-sized bird, measuring about 60-66 cm in length. It is found in most parts of Africa south of the Sahara desert.

It is the only member of its genus and is closely related to the allopatric Madagascar harrier-hawk, which is found on the nearby island of Madagascar. The African harrier-hawk is an opportunistic hunter, preying on small animals such as rodents, frogs, and lizards.

When hunting, it often uses the element of surprise, swooping down suddenly from the sky onto its unsuspecting prey.

It is also known to hunt in pairs, with one bird driving its prey towards the other. The African harrier-hawk is mainly a solitary species, but during the breeding season, they form pairs and can be seen nesting in tall trees or on cliffs.

They feed their young with small animals that they have caught. The female harrier-hawk often incubates the eggs, and both parents take part in feeding the young. The African harrier-hawk is a species of conservation concern due to habitat loss and degradation.

It is listed as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List. Conservation efforts are needed to protect this majestic bird and its unique habitat.

SpeciesP. typus

9. Kingfishers


Kingfishers belong to the family Alcedinidae, which is part of the order Coraciiformes. This family of birds is known for being small to medium-sized and brightly colored.

They are found all over the world, with the majority of species located in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Oceania. However, some species can also be seen in Europe.

Kingfishers tend to live near rivers, lakes, and other water bodies, where they can be seen perched near the shoreline, often diving into the water to catch fish. They have a unique hunting technique, using their sharp, pointed beaks to quickly snatch up their prey.

Kingfishers also have a distinctive call, which is a loud and repetitive “k-k-k” sound.


10. Greater Flamingo


The greater flamingo is a species of flamingo that is the most widespread and largest of its kind.

It is found in many parts of the world, including Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East, the Levant, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean countries of Southern Europe.

This species of flamingo is a common sight in the Old World, as it inhabits many regions in this region. The greater flamingo is a large, tall bird with a long neck and a curved bill.

It is primarily pink or white in color, with a bright pink or reddish hue on its face, neck, and wings. Its long legs help it to wade in shallow water and its bill is adapted to sifting through mud to find food.

The greater flamingo is a social bird that forms large colonies with hundreds or even thousands of individuals. The greater flamingo is an omnivore, meaning it eats both animal and plant material.

Its diet consists of small crabs, insects, mollusks, and other invertebrates, as well as algae and plant matter.

This species of flamingo migrates seasonally and can travel up to thousands of miles in order to find suitable breeding and feeding grounds. The greater flamingo is an iconic species that is a symbol of many of the regions in which it is found.

It is a popular subject of photography, art, and literature, and its beauty and grace make it one of the most captivating species of bird. Unfortunately, its population is declining due to habitat loss, overfishing, and other human activities.

The greater flamingo is an important species that needs to be protected and preserved for future generations.

SpeciesP. roseus

11. Lesser kestrel


The lesser kestrel is a small species of falcon that is distributed across a wide range of habitats in Eurasia. It is found across the Mediterranean, Afghanistan, Central Asia, China, and Mongolia.

During the summer months, the lesser kestrel migrates to warmer climates such as Africa, Pakistan, India, and Iraq. It is a rare sight in northern regions of its breeding range, and its population has seen a decrease in Europe.

The lesser kestrel is considered a vulnerable species due to a decrease in its population size, as well as the destruction of its habitat in areas where it breeds.

Conservation efforts have been implemented to ensure the survival of this species, such as the creation of protected areas, as well as the implementation of captive breeding and release programs.

SpeciesF. naumanni

12. Hamerkop


The hamerkop is a medium-sized wading bird that is the only living species in the genus Scopus and the family Scopidae. For a long time, the species and family were believed to be part of the Ciconiiformes, a group of birds including storks, herons, and ibises.

However, recent studies have suggested that the hamerkop is actually more closely related to the Pelecaniformes, a group of birds that includes pelicans and shoebills.

This means that the hamerkop is now placed in the same family as pelicans and shoebills, making them its closest relatives.

Despite the fact that they look very different, the hamerkop shares some important features with these two species, such as a bill structure and a similar style of feeding. This further confirms the hamerkop’s place in the Pelecaniformes.

SpeciesS. umbretta

13. Red-winged Francolin


The red-winged francolin is a species of bird that belongs to the Phasianidae family, which is also known as the pheasant family.

This species of bird can be found in many countries across Africa, such as Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Eswatini, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Elgon francolin may be a hybrid between the red-winged francolin and the moorland francolin.

This hybridization occurs when two different species of birds mate and produce offspring. In this case, the red-winged francolin and the moorland francolin may have produced a new species of bird, known as the Elogon francolin.

This hybrid species could have adapted to the environment in which it lives and could possess characteristics of both of its parent species. This hybrid species could help increase the diversity of bird populations in Africa, and could potentially become a new species of bird.

SpeciesS. levaillantii

14. Pallid Harrier

Pallid Harrier


The pale or pallid harrier is a migratory bird of prey belonging to the harrier subfamily. This bird is scientifically named after Ancient Greek words, as the term ‘Circus’ comes from the Greek word ‘kirkos’ which translates to ‘bird of prey’.

This is likely a reference to the hen harrier, the most common species of harrier.

The second part of the scientific name, macrourus, is derived from two different Greek words, ‘makros’ meaning ‘long’ and ‘ouros’ meaning ‘tailed’, combined to create a word for a ‘long-tailed’ bird.

Therefore, the scientific name of this bird of prey refers to its circling flight, likely referencing the hen harrier and its long tail.

SpeciesC. macrourus

15. Long-crested Eagle


The long-crested eagle is an African bird of prey that belongs to the Accipitridae family. This type of eagle is placed in its own genus, Lophaetus.

The long-crested eagle stands out from other species in the Accipitridae family because of its distinctively shaggy feathers that make up its crest. This long crest covers the entire back of the head and neck and is a characteristic feature of this bird of prey.

The long-crested eagle also has a unique brown and yellow plumage, with a white belly and broad, black tail. The long-crested eagle is a large bird, usually measuring around 70 cm in length, and weighing up to 2.7 kg. It has a wingspan of up to 150 cm.

This bird of prey is most active during the day, when it can be found soaring in the air, searching for prey. It mainly feeds on small animals such as rodents, birds, and lizards. The long-crested eagle is a solitary creature and is rarely seen in large groups.

It is classified as a species of least concern due to its wide distribution across Africa, and its stable population.

SpeciesL. occipitalis

16. Black Goshawk


The black sparrowhawk is a species of True hawk found in Africa. It is also referred to as the black goshawk or great sparrowhawk. This species is the largest of its kind in all of Africa and is easily recognizable by its black body and white head.

It has a powerful wingspan that can stretch up to three feet in length, allowing it to soar through the air with ease.

Its legs and talons are also strong, allowing it to catch prey with a swift and precise strike.The black sparrowhawk is found in a variety of habitats throughout Africa, including savannahs, grasslands, and forests.

They typically hunt for small mammals, such as rodents and lizards, and will also feed on birds, reptiles, and insects.

It is an opportunistic hunter, with the ability to adapt its hunting strategy based on the availability of food. This species of True Hawk is a solitary bird, typically residing in areas with little human disturbance.

They are often seen perched atop trees, watching for potential prey, or perched on a cliff overlooking a body of water.

They are also very territorial and will aggressively defend their territory from other birds. The black sparrowhawk is an important indicator of the health of the African environment. Its presence indicates a healthy balance of prey and predator species.

It is also a symbol of African wildlife and serves as a reminder of the importance of conservation.

SpeciesA. melanoleucus

17. Double-banded Sandgrouse


The double-banded sandgrouse is a species of bird that is mostly found living on the ground instead of in the air. It is a member of the family Pteroclidae, which is known for its terrestrial birds.

This species of bird is native to arid areas of southern Africa, which is an area that is characterized by very little rainfall and a lack of moisture.

This bird has adapted to thrive in these conditions, as it can easily find food and shelter on the ground instead of having to fly.

The double-banded sandgrouse has a distinctive two-banded pattern on its body, which helps it blend in with its environment and stay safe from predators.

The lack of moisture found in its native habitat does not affect the double-banded sandgrouse, as it is able to find enough food and water sources to survive.

SpeciesP. bicinctus

18. Buttonquail


Buttonquail, also known as hemipodes, are a unique species of bird belonging to the Turnicidae family. They are found in warm grasslands across Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia.

Although they look similar to quails, which are a part of the Phasianidae family, they are not closely related. Buttonquail are small birds, usually measuring between 13 to 18 cm in length.

They are characterized by their short, rounded wings and short legs, which make them well-adapted for running on the ground. They have a strong, curved bill that is used for probing the ground for food.

The feathers are usually patterned with mottled browns and yellows, giving them a camouflaged appearance. These birds feed mainly on insects, spiders, worms, seeds, and leaves. They can also eat small lizards, frogs, and other small vertebrates.

They are usually found in pairs or small groups, nesting in low vegetation.

They are also known to lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, which helps to protect the eggs from predators. Buttonquail are an important part of the ecosystem, as they help to control insect populations.

They are also popular game birds and are hunted for sport and food in many parts of their range. Despite this, their populations remain largely stable, and they are not considered to be at risk of extinction.


19. Little Grebe


The little grebe, also known as the dabchick, is a species of water bird belonging to the grebe family. Its scientific name, Tachybaptus ruficollis, is derived from Ancient Greek and Latin words.

The genus name, Tachybaptus, is derived from the Ancient Greek words takhus, meaning “fast,” and bapto, meaning “to sink under.” The specific name, ruficollis, is derived from Latin words, rufus meaning “red” and -collis, meaning “necked.” The prefix -collis is itself derived from the Latin word collum, which means “neck.” This suggests that the little grebe’s neck is red in colour.

SpeciesT. ruficollis

20. Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo

Barred long-tailed cuckoo


The barred long-tailed cuckoo is a species of cuckoo belonging to the Cuculidae family. This species of cuckoo is found mainly in the Albertine Rift montane forests of East Africa.

The Albertine Rift montane forests are a chain of mountain forests running along the Albertine Rift, and they are known for their diversity of wildlife. These forests are home to many species of birds, including the barred long-tailed cuckoo.

Additionally, this species of cuckoo can also be found disjunctly throughout East Africa, mainly in areas with suitable habitats. The barred long-tailed cuckoo is a small bird, usually gray in color with barred wings and tail, and has a distinctive long tail.

The diet of this species consists of insects, which they hunt for in the forest canopy.

SpeciesC. montanus

21. Lilian’s Lovebird


Lilian’s lovebird, also known as the Nyasa lovebird, is a species of parrot that is native to Africa. It is a member of the lovebird genus and is one of the smallest parrots on mainland Africa, measuring about 13 cm in length.

This species of parrot is mainly green in color but has some orange on its upper chest and head. Unfortunately, it is not a very common species of parrot and is also quite difficult to breed in captivity.

Those who are successful in breeding this species in captivity are usually rewarded with a beautiful and rare pet.

SpeciesA. lilianae

22. Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill


The southern yellow-billed hornbill is a species of hornbill found in the southern regions of Africa. This species of hornbill is characterized by its yellow bill as well as its diet, which consists mainly of seeds, small insects, spiders, and scorpions.

It is a common and widespread resident of dry thornveld and broad-leafed woodlands, where it scavenges for food on the ground.

This species of hornbill is also known to be highly adaptable and is often found in modified habitats, such as open grassland and near human settlements.

The southern yellow-billed hornbill is an important species in the African ecosystem, as it plays a major role in seed dispersal and helps to maintain the balance of the food chain. It is also a valuable source of food for other animals such as leopards, jackals, and baboons.

Furthermore, the species is also important to local human communities, as it helps to control insect populations and thus protect crops. Despite this importance, the southern yellow-billed hornbill is threatened by habitat loss due to human activities.

This includes deforestation, agricultural expansion, and the expansion of urban settlements. As a result, the populations of this species have been declining, and it is now listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

The conservation of this species is of utmost importance, and efforts must be taken to restore and protect its natural habitats.

SpeciesT. leucomelas

23. African Green Pigeon


The African green pigeon is a type of bird that can be found across Sub-Saharan Africa. It belongs to the family Columbidae and is one of five green pigeon species that live in the Afrotropics.

The species has a wide range of habitats and is known to have around 17 accepted races. The African green pigeon can be identified by its distinct green plumage and red bill. It is a medium-sized bird that feeds on fruit and seeds and is known to be quite social.

The African green pigeon plays an important role in the ecosystem, as it helps to disperse the seeds of certain trees and plants. As a result, these species have a positive effect on the environment and contribute to the overall health of the local ecosystem.

SpeciesT. calvus

24. Scarlet-chested Sunbird


The scarlet-chested sunbird is a species of bird that is part of the family of birds known as Nectariniidae. This family of birds is made up of colorful species that are found in mostly tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world.

They are most commonly found in the African continent, but can also be seen in parts of India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia. Scarlet-chested sunbirds are easily identifiable due to their bright red chests and yellow throats.

They are also known for their sharp, pointed bills which they use to feed on nectar and insects. They have long, slender wings that allow them to maneuver quickly and gracefully through the air.

These birds are social and can be seen in small groups, usually consisting of two to four individuals. They have a wide variety of calls and songs that they use to communicate with each other.

They are also renowned for their impressive acrobatic displays, which they use to attract mates and protect their territories. The scarlet-chested sunbird is an important species in the avian world, as it helps to pollinate flowers and disperse seeds.

They are also important in controlling insect populations, which helps to maintain a balanced and healthy ecosystem.

SpeciesC. senegalensis


Birds in Lilongwe are an important part of the city’s natural beauty and wildlife. The presence of these birds contributes to the overall atmosphere and vibrancy of the city. They bring joy to the people of Lilongwe and offer a connection to the natural world.

With proper conservation efforts and protection of their habitats, these birds can continue to thrive in the city for years to come.

Leave a Reply

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