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Malawi is a popular destination for bird-watchers. For its size, Malawi contains more bird species than most African countries, reflecting the variety of natural habitats, ranging from mountain plateaus to lake shores. Some 645 species have been recorded in Malawi, and about 530 species probably breed here. Those that don.t breed here are mainly long-distance migrants from Europe or Asia (mostly present in Malawi either just before or during the rainy season from about October to April).

Some of Malawi.s breeding birds leave the region during the dry season, so probably the most productive time of year for bird-watching is November and December, but any time is likely to be very rewarding. There are many good places for bird-watching, some of the best being the national parks of Liwonde, Kasungu, Lengwe and the Nyika Plateau, and Dzalanyama Forest Reserve and Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary.

Some indication of the bird-watching opportunities in Malawi can be gleaned from the number and beauty of birds that you may well see in the gardens of the towns and cities. The lilac-breasted roller, little bee-eater, green loerie, a number of sunbirds, the paradise flycatcher and the African hoopoe are just a few of the parade of birds that you may see in the gardens of Le Meridien Capital Hotel for instance.

As with anywhere, the species of birds you are likely to see will depend on the surrounding habitat. Main vegetation zones are listed above.