Mzimba is home to a wide variety of birds, ranging from small, colorful songbirds to majestic raptors. The diverse habitat of Mzimba provides a safe haven for many species of birds, some of which are endangered or threatened.
Bird watching in Mzimba is a popular activity that attracts birders from all around the world. From the intricate beauty of the weaver birds to the sharp cries of the Fish Eagles, Mzimba is a paradise for bird enthusiasts.
With its expansive wetlands, lush forests, and rolling hills, birders in Mzimba have the opportunity to observe some of the world’s most incredible species of birds.
1. Black-winged Stilt
The black-winged stilt is a wading bird of the avocet and stilt family, found in many regions around the globe. It is a tall bird, with extremely long legs, an adaptation that helps it to wade in search of food in shallow waters.
Its scientific name is Himantopus himantopus, and it is sometimes referred to as a single, almost cosmopolitan species. This means that it can be found in most places, although there may be slight variations in the species.
The bird is a migratory species, and its range extends from southern Europe, through Africa, and as far as Australia and New Zealand.
It is mainly found in shallow wetlands, which provide the ideal habitat for insect larvae, crustaceans, mollusks, and small fish that make up its diet.
The black-winged stilt is a highly-visible bird, and its striking black and white plumage is an effective camouflage when it hunts among the reeds and shallow waters of its wetland habitats.
2. Yellow-billed Duck
The yellow-billed duck is a medium-sized dabbling duck that is native to southern and eastern Africa. It is characterized by its bright yellow bill, which is why it is named as such.
This duck is typically around 51–58 cm long and is a very abundant resident breeder in these regions, meaning that it spends most of its life in the area.
It does not migrate, but instead, it wanders during the dry season to find suitable bodies of water for it to live in. Outside of the breeding season, the yellow-billed duck is incredibly social and forms large flocks with other ducks.
This is a unique feature for a duck that is not migratory and it shows that the yellow-billed duck is a truly remarkable species. Its social nature is one of the main reasons why it is so successful in its native habitat.
3. Great Cormorant
The great cormorant is a widely distributed seabird that is known by many different names.
In New Zealand, it is often referred to as the black shag or kawau, while it is called the great black cormorant in the Northern Hemisphere, the black cormorant in Australia, and the large cormorant in India.
It belongs to the cormorant family of seabirds, which are characterized by their black feathers, long necks, and webbed feet that make them excellent swimmers.
The great cormorant is a large bird, with a wingspan of up to five feet, and they are found in coastal areas around the world. They feed mainly on fish and are known to be quite skilled swimmers and divers. They are also social birds and often hunt in large groups.
Their populations are generally stable, though their numbers in some areas may be declining due to human activities such as fishing and pollution.
4. Lesser Jacana
The lesser jacana is a species of bird that belongs to the family Jacanidae. This family consists of waders that are found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. The lesser jacana is monotypic, meaning that it is the only species included in its genus, Microparra.
This species is known for its large feet, which it uses to walk on aquatic plants. It has a long, slender bill that is used for probing for food in the mud. The plumage of the lesser jacana is brown to black, with a white stripe running along the back and wings.
The underside is white in color. The lesser jacana is found in wetland areas, such as ponds, marshes, and swamps. Its diet consists of insects, crustaceans, worms, and other small aquatic animals.
The lesser jacana is an important species in its environment as its presence helps to maintain a healthy balance of species diversity.
5. Crested Francolin
The crested francolin is a species of bird in the family Phasianidae found in southern Africa. It is a medium-sized bird, typically measuring about 40 cm in length. It has reddish-brown and white streaks on its body and a white-tipped crest on its forehead.
Its diet consists mainly of seeds and insects. One of the subspecies of the crested francolin, Ortygornis sephaena rovuma, is sometimes considered a separate species, Kirk’s francolin. It is slightly smaller than the crested francolin and has a more reddish coloration.
It is found in Tanzania and Mozambique, and it is believed to be closely related to the crested francolin. It is less common than the crested francolin and is listed as a near-threatened species by the IUCN..
6. Greater Flamingo
The greater flamingo is the most widespread and largest species of the flamingo family.
Found all over the world, they are particularly numerous in the Old World, with their habitat covering 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.
These majestic birds are easily recognizable by their size, with an average height of around four feet, and their distinctive pink plumage. Their long legs make them well-suited to wading through shallow waters, where they can forage for food.
They feed primarily on brine shrimp and plankton and have a unique filter-feeding mechanism that allows them to strain tiny organisms from the water.
Flamingos also supplement their diet with insects, molluscs, and small fish. The greater flamingo is a social bird and is often seen in large flocks.
Their flocks can range from a few dozen to thousands of individuals, and they’re known to communicate with one another through a series of honks, grunts, and clicks.
They form strong pair bonds and even remain close to their family group after mating. The greater flamingo is an impressive bird, and its wide range has made it an iconic species around the world.
Its distinct size and coloring make it easy to spot in its habitat, and its social behavior is a source of fascination for bird lovers. With its impressive range and unique characteristics, the greater flamingo is a bird species that is sure to remain admired for years to come.
7. Southern Ground Hornbill
The southern ground hornbill is a type of bird that belongs to the hornbill order. It is one of only two species of ground hornbill found in Africa and is the largest species of hornbill in the world.
This bird is endemic to the southern regions of Africa, stretching from Kenya to South Africa. It is a large and striking bird, with black feathers, a white belly, and a bright red bill.
The bird often forms large flocks, which can be seen foraging on the ground or perched in trees. They have a wide range of vocalizations, including deep hooting sounds, and sometimes even mimic the calls of other birds.
The southern ground hornbill is an omnivorous species, feeding on insects, small vertebrates, fruits, and seeds. To protect themselves from predators, they roost in large trees and keep a vigilant eye out for danger.
They are an important part of the African ecosystem, helping to keep insect and small vertebrate populations in balance.
8. Pennant-winged Nightjar
The pennant-winged nightjar is a species of nightjar found in Africa, occurring from Nigeria to northern South Africa. These birds are intra-African migrants, meaning that they migrate within Africa rather than outside the continent.
During the breeding season, the pennant-winged nightjar exhibits remarkable sexual dimorphism, meaning that males and females display different physical characteristics.
Male birds have deep rufous-brown upperparts with a white throat and breast, while females have a more grey-brown head and upperparts with a greyish-white throat and breast and barring on the wings.
This dimorphism is thought to be a result of the birds’ adaptation to their environment, allowing them to better camouflage and remain undetected by predators.
9. Egyptian Goose
The Egyptian goose is a species of duck found across Africa, typically found in large wetlands, rivers, and lakes. It belongs to the family Anatidae, which includes all ducks, geese, and swans. The Egyptian goose is a popular ornamental bird, often kept in parks and gardens.
As a result, it has been introduced to parts of Europe, the United States, and other areas outside its natural range. This has allowed the species to thrive in its introduced range, making it a common sight in many cities and towns.
The Egyptian goose is known for its striking plumage, which includes a grey-brown body with white patches on the wings, chest, and belly. It is also known for its loud, honking call, which is often heard in the early morning and evening.
10. Red-chested Cuckoo
The red-chested cuckoo is a species of bird from the Cuculidae family, which is commonly found in the area of Africa south of the Sahara. This species of cuckoo is medium-sized, with distinctive red coloring on its chest.
In Afrikaans, a dialect spoken in some parts of Africa, the bird is known as the “Piet-my-vrou,” which is derived from the sound of its call. The red-chested cuckoo is an interesting bird, as it is both visually striking and culturally significant for the Afrikaans language.
11. 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 found in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and is known to inhabit open ground such as agricultural land, grassland, floodplains, and burnt fynbos.
It is a resident species in these areas, but some of the inland populations may migrate to lower altitudes during the winter months. The bird is a solitary species and is typically found in pairs or small groups, although it is sometimes seen in larger flocks.
Its diet consists of seeds, insects, and small vertebrates. The bird is threatened by habitat loss and hunting, and its conservation status is currently listed as near threatened.
12. Grey-headed Gull
The grey-headed gull is a species of gull found in South America and Africa south of the Sahara. It is not a migratory species, but it can be found in more locations during winter. The grey-headed gull has also been seen as a rare vagrant in North America, Italy, and Spain.
This means that it has been spotted on rare occasions in these places. The grey-headed gull is a small species of gull. It has a grey head and is also known as the gray-hooded gull. Its breeding grounds are scattered throughout South America and Africa.
It is not a migratory species, but it may be more widely spread during the winter months. Grey-headed gulls have been seen as a rare vagrant in North America, Italy, and Spain.
It is believed that these sightings were of birds that had strayed from their original breeding grounds.
These sightings are quite rare however, and it is likely that the birds have not established a breeding population in these countries. The grey-headed gull is an important species to the ecosystem in its native habitat.
It helps to control the insect population and its presence is a vital part of the food chain. It is important to ensure that this species is protected and that its breeding grounds remain intact.
The bateleur is a medium-sized eagle belonging to the family Accipitridae, which includes many other species of raptors such as hawks, kites, and harriers. It is commonly thought to be related to the snake eagles and is the only species in the genus Terathopius.
It is also believed to be the source of the iconic “Zimbabwe Bird” which serves as the national emblem of Zimbabwe.The bateleur is a striking bird, with a black beak, reddish-brown feathers, and a distinctive white patch on its underwing.
Its wingspan ranges from 1.2 to 1.5 meters, and it typically inhabits open habitats such as grasslands and savannas.
It feeds mainly on small mammals and reptiles and is a skilled hunter with excellent eyesight. The bateleur is an important species in its range, as it plays a crucial role in controlling the populations of small mammals and reptiles.
It is also an important symbol in Zimbabwe, representing strength and determination. The iconic Zimbabwe Bird has been used on Zimbabwean currency since 1980 and is a popular symbol throughout the country.
The bateleur is listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, its population is believed to be declining due to habitat destruction and other human activities.
As such, conservation efforts are needed to ensure the species’ continued survival.
Hornbills are birds that are found in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Melanesia. These birds are easily identifiable by their long, down-curved bills.
The bill is often brightly colored and has a casque, which is a bony structure that is found on the upper mandible. Hornbills have been an important part of different cultures in many parts of the world, and are even featured in some myths and legends.
They are omnivorous birds, meaning they eat both plants and animals, and they are also able to fly long distances.
Hornbills are important to the ecosystems in which they live, as they help to disperse seeds of various plants, and also eat insects, which helps to control insect populations. The bright colors of the bill can also be used for communication among the bird species.
Hornbills are a unique and fascinating species of bird, and they are sure to continue to captivate us for many years to come.
Phalacrocoracidae is a family of aquatic birds that includes around 40 species, commonly known as cormorants and shags. Over the years, different classifications of the family have been proposed by ornithologists.
However, in 2021, the International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU) reached a consensus on a new taxonomy for the family, which consists of seven genera.
This taxonomy is now widely accepted by ornithologists around the world. Cormorants and shags are known for their varied appearances, from the sleek and slender Great Cormorant to the stocky Double-crested Cormorant.
They are also known for their fishing skills, as they are able to dive deep underwater in search of food.
Cormorants and shags are found all over the world, in both saltwater and freshwater habitats. The new classification of the Phalacrocoracidae family considers several characteristics, such as body size, plumage color, and bill morphology.
This allows ornithologists to better understand the evolutionary relationships between species and genera. It also allows them to make better conservation decisions for the species in the family. The Phalacrocoracidae family is an important part of the world’s avian biodiversity.
With the new taxonomy, ornithologists can better understand this family and ensure its continued survival.
16. African Emerald Cuckoo
The African emerald cuckoo is a species of bird found in the avifauna of Africa. It is part of the cuckoo family, a group of birds that is characterized by their distinct call and unique behavior.
The African emerald cuckoo is mainly found in the moist forests and montane woodlands of equatorial Africa, although it may occasionally be seen in more arid regions. This species has a beautiful green-bluish coloration which is why it is called the emerald cuckoo.
The African emerald cuckoo is a solitary bird and is usually seen alone or in pairs. It feeds mainly on insects which it finds among the foliage of trees. The African emerald cuckoo has a very melodic call which is loud enough to be heard from a distance.
This species is not considered to be threatened and its population is thought to be stable.
17. Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo
The barred long-tailed cuckoo is a type of bird in the family Cuculidae, which is a large group of birds that includes cuckoos, roadrunners, and anis.
This species is found in the Albertine Rift montane forests, which are a unique set of mountainous forests located in East Africa. Additionally, the barred long-tailed cuckoo can also be found disjunctly, or sporadically, throughout East Africa.
This means that it is not found in one continuous area, but instead in scattered locations. The barred long-tailed cuckoo is an important species in East African ecosystems and is worth protecting.
18. Fiery-necked Nightjar
The Fiery-necked Nightjar is a unique bird found in Africa south of the equator. This bird is part of the Caprimulgidae family, which consists of nightjars. This species is known for its distinct and loud call which is often heard in its natural environment.
The call is described as a “good-lord-deliver-us” sound. The Fiery-necked Nightjar features a distinctive red/orange neck and head. This coloration is an adaptation to its environment, helping it to blend in with its surroundings.
The bird has a greyish brown back and wings, with white spots on its wings. Its belly is white with dark streaks. The legs and feet are grey in color. The Fiery-necked Nightjar is nocturnal, spending most of its time in the night foraging for food.
It feeds mainly on insects, such as moths, grasshoppers, and beetles. The bird can be seen perching on trees or on the ground.
It also flies low to the ground in search of food. The Fiery-necked Nightjar is an important part of its environment, providing both food and shelter to other animals. Its distinctive call is also an important way of communication between birds.
This species is an important part of the African ecosystem and is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
19. Great Spotted Cuckoo
The great spotted cuckoo is a species of bird belonging to the Cuculiformes order, which also includes some other species such as roadrunners, anis, and coucals. It is a widespread species, found in many places throughout Africa and the Mediterranean Basin.
It is notable for its behavior as a brood parasite, meaning that it will lay its eggs in the nests of other bird species, especially the Eurasian magpie. This behavior is seen in some other birds as well, but the great spotted cuckoo is especially well-known for it.
This adaptation helps the species to ensure the survival of their young, as the host birds will unknowingly take care of the cuckoo’s offspring. The great spotted cuckoo is an important part of the African and Mediterranean ecosystems, playing a vital role in the cycle of life.
20. Mourning Collared Dove
The mourning collared dove, also known as the African mourning dove, is a species of dove found in and around Africa south of the Sahara. Despite the name, it is not related to the North American mourning dove.
This species is often seen close to water and is a common or abundant resident breeding bird in the areas it inhabits.
They have been observed to peacefully coexist with other doves in the same environment, suggesting that they have adapted to living in close proximity to other species of birds.
The mourning collared dove has a wide range of habitats, from woodlands and savannas to grasslands and mangroves, where it can be seen in small flocks or pairs. They feed mainly on grains, seeds, and occasional insects.
They are highly adaptable and are able to survive in a variety of climates, making them a valuable species for conservation.
Birds in Mzimba are an important part of the local ecosystem and the local culture. They provide important ecosystem services such as pollination, pest control, and seed dispersal, as well as providing food and aesthetic beauty to the local people.
As such, it is important for the people of Mzimba to take steps to protect birds and their habitats, ensuring they can continue to provide these important benefits to the community for years to come.