We know that birds are not everybody’s ‘cup of tea’ but be warned, the beauty and the variety of birds that are seen in Africa will awaken passions (or at the very least, interests) that you did not know you had!

Time and time again safari guides are told “oh we are not interested in birds” and by the end of a productive game drive the very same person is shouting STOP more enthusiastically than the most avid ‘twitcher’.

Zimbabwe is home to over 650 bird species, and in the Victoria Falls area, Birdlife SA estimates that there are 470 species for your bird list.   Some of the rare-birds found in our backyard are the African Finfoot, Grey-Headed Parrot, Pel’s Fishing Owl and Rock Pratincole.

Speaking of Pratincoles, birds play such a big part of life in every safari lodge that the rooms at Masuwe were named after the first species spotted on the property when our founders first visiting.  They were:

  • Cisticola – very small and an insect eater
  • Tchagra – either the black or brown-crowned which are both found here
  • Francolin – probably Swainson’s Francolin, now known as Swainson’s Spurfowl
  • Scoops – an owl so keep an eye out late at night
  • Bateleur – a medium sized snake hunting eagle, well known for its distinctive aerial acrobatics
  • Lourie – also known as the go-away-bird because of its distinctive go-away call
  • Pratincole – oddly they are classed as waders, yet they hunt their insect prey on the wing
  • Korhaan – found in woodland and open grasslands their long legs enable them to see over tall grass
  • Hornbill – known to all Disney Lion King fans as Zazu
  • Quelea – little wonder that Stewart & Sally saw one of these, they are said to b the most numerous bird species in the world!!

Around the lodge, bird watching takes place every day but serious bird watchers might like to come during the rainy season from October to March when there is a profusion of food, the migrants are around and many species are sporting breeding plumage.

Five Feathered facts:

  1. At current count, there are 9956 species of bird in the world, and just you know …. There are 5416 species of mammals
  2. Many scientists believe that birds evolved from dinosaurs during the Mesozoic Era about 150 million years ago.
  3. Flamingos pair for a lifetime. Some stay with their mates for 50 years or more.
  4. Approximately 75% of wild birds live for less than a year. The larger the bird, the more likely it is to live longer. The large wandering albatross, for example, can live for up to 80 years.
  5. The heaviest bird in the air is the Kori Bustard, from East and South Africa. It weighs about 31 lb. (14 kg.), with the largest on recorded being 40 lb. (18 kg.). Because it is such hard work to fly, it flies only in emergencies and for only short distances.

 Great books about bird watching:

The Rarest Bird in the World: The Search for the Nechisar Nightjar – Vernon R L Head
The big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession – Mark Obmascik
Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding – Scott Weidensaul
A guide to the Birds of East Africa, A Novel – by Nicholas Drayson

Photo credits this blog, Travis Bester, Chloe Barnett and Joe Wroten