South Luangwa: A Birders Paradise

Thousands of visitors flock to South Luangwa National Park each year, and I am not speaking of the 2 legged varieties. South Luangwa welcomes more than 450 bird species each year, what’s more incredible, is that in one day you could see 100 species! The birdlife includes many species typical of Southern Africa and those more usually known from East Africa.

South Luangwa provides spectacular birdlife all-year-round. Not only does the park welcome visiting species, it has a host of resident birds. Including, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Miombo Wren-warbler, Nyasa Lovebird and White-breasted Sunbird.

During the winter months (dry season), the African Spoonbill begins breeding in the winter, which lasts until spring. The Spoonbill’s nest tends to be located in trees above water, making the Luangwa River an ideal breeding for this bird species, and South Luangwa the perfect location to view this bird.

The African Spoonbill isn’t the only bird species to arrive in the Luangwa valley for the purpose of breeding. Much like the African Spoonbill, the yellow-billed stork begins nesting and breeding at the end of long rains. Head to the north of the park to see a huge breeding colony of yellow-billed storks – situated in a stand of tall trees, it’s estimated there 300 breeding pairs in South Luangwa.

A highlight for anyone visiting South Luangwa in late August and early September is the arrival of southern-carmine bee-eaters. This species of bee-eater is a summer migrant to Zambia, gathering in their thousands. The southern carmine bee-eaters gather to nest in the river bank. They come to this area for one reason, to breed. Estimates say there are 10,000 breeding pairs. The best time to view these majestic birds is first thing in the morning when they are busy excavating – later on in the day they are searching for food, so you may miss them.

No matter where you stay in South Luangwa you are guaranteed to see amazing birdlife during your game drive, walking safari or even when relaxing by the pool. If capturing the birdlife is important to you then we highly recommend staying at one of the photography focused camps we work with. These camps provide photographic hides which allow you to get up-close-and-personal to the birds, as well as other wildlife of the Luangwa valley. This offers a unique opportunity to watch them undisturbed in their natural environment.

Birder or not, you can visit South Luangwa and appreciate the magnificent birdlife that makes South Luangwa National Park a true birders paradise. Some say the best time to visit is during the green season (December to March) when summer migrants are lured to the park by plentiful food. However, whenever you decide to come there will be an abundance of birdlife for your viewing pleasure.

If you want to observe the richness of South Luangwa birdlife through your own binoculars contact us or email us directly at [email protected].

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