Over 750 bird species have been recorded in Zambia, making it a fabulous country for serious bird-watchers. The best time for birds is in the rainy season (November through April), particularly during November and December. It is harder to get around at this time of year, although the national-park lodges that stay open offer good low-season deals. Don’t despair though – bird-watching in Zambia is rewarding in any season.
The best places to watch birds are probably the national parks, with their pristine wildernesses and varied range of habitats. Most of the lodges will have guides who are expert at identifying birds, but if you’re keen to learn more beware the town-based budget-safari operators who don’t know a wattled crane from a saddle-billed stork!
Zambia has only one endemic species, the Chaplin’s barbet, but has a number of near endemics, and also boasts some of the finest bird sights in the region. Paddling through papyrus swamp in a dugout canoe in search of the elusive shoebill stork is an unforgettable experience, while watching a flock of nesting carmine bee-eaters ranks as one of the world’s great wildlife spectacles; and nobody could fail to be thrilled by the sight of an African fish eagle swooping down to seize its prey from the water.
As with anywhere, the species of birds you are likely to see will depend on the surrounding habitat.