World Migratory Bird Day 2017 feature– a look at Liwonde’s migrant birds

This World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD), our team is pleased to share an overview of common migrant bird species that can be found in Liwonde National Park, one of Malawi’s premier wildlife destinations. The theme for WMBD 2017 is ‘Their Future is Our Future – A Healthy Planet for Migratory Birds and People’.  Migratory birds are facing increasing threats whilst travelling across countries and continents. WMBD was initiated in 2006 to celebrate the need to conserve the world’s migratory bird species and their habitats. Liwonde is a haven for many migrant species and year-round guests from across the world embark on birding safaris in the park, which is home to a total of 400 species.

CAWS guide Samuel Chihana explains more about the different groups of birds that can be seen in the park and he highlights a few migratory groups and species that you can expect to see on a visit to Mvuu Camp and Lodge in Liwonde National Park.

There are four groups of birds that can be seen in Liwonde. Resident birds usually breed in the area or may be seen in the park throughout the year.

Some examples include the below:

Pel’s Fishing Owl, Bohm’s Bee-eater, Brown Breasted Barbet, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Collared Palm Thrush, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Hildebrandt’s Spur-fowl, African Marsh Harrier, African Harrier Hawk, Lesser Jacana, African Jacana, White backed Vultures, African Hawk Eagle, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Palm-nut Vulture to mention a few.

Palearctic migrants, migrate from Europe and Asia and are generally present as non-breeding visitors between October and March.

Some examples include the below:

White Stork, Honey Buzzard, Lesser Spotted Eagles, Steppe Eagle, Booted Eagle, European Marsh Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Osprey, European Hobby, Eastern Red Footed Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, Common Ringed Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpipers, Marsh Sandpipers, Common Greenshank, Little Stint, Ruff, Whimbrel, Gull-billed Terns, White winged Terns, European Swift, European Bee-eater, Blue cheeked Bee-eater, European Roller, European House Martin, European sand Martin, European Golden Oriole, Willow Warbler, European Marsh Warbler, Red backed Shrike to mention a few not forgetting our Northern Wheateater which visited us this year.

Intra-African migrants are species which spend parts of the year in different African countries. Some of these species visit Malawi to breed in the rainy season, others either breed during winter or the dry season.

Some examples include the below:

Abdim’s Stork, Tawny Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, African Crake, Lesser Moorhen, Kittlitz’s Plover, Temminck’s Courser, Bronzy Winged Courser, African  Cuckoo, Red chested Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Striped Cuckoo, Jacobin Cuckoo, Thick billed Cuckoo, Emerald Cuckoo, Diederik Cuckoo, Black Coucal, Alpine Swift, Pygmy Kingfisher, Woodland Kingfisher, Grey headed Kingfisher, Olive Bee-eaters (Madagascar), Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters, Broad-billed Roller, African Hoope, White-throated Swallow, Plum Colored Starling, Red-headed Quelea.

Finally, vagrant species refer to irregular visitors from other parts of Malawi, Zambia or other countries.

Some examples include the below:

The Caspien Tern just joined this list recently, Great White Pelican, Black Stork, Greater Flamingo, White backed Duck, Yellow billed Ducks, Hottentot Teal, Red billed Teal, Southern Pochard, African Pygmy Goose, Black Eagle, African Goshawk, Peregrine Falcon, Lanner Falcon, Purple Gallinule, Allen’s( Lesser) Gallinule, Spur-winged Lapwing which has become Resident now, Three-banded Plover, African Snipe(Ethiopian), Pied Avocet, Common Plantincole, Whiskered Tern, African Skimmers, Namaqua Dove, African Black Swift, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark, Banded Martin, Black Cuckooshrike, Red-capped Robin, Fiscal Shrike, Wattled Starling, Miombo Blue-eared Starling, Purple Banded Sunbird, Dark-backed Weaver, Locust finch to mention a few.

Birds migrate in search of food, a conducive place to breed or to simply escape adverse weather conditions such as very cold climates.  If you’re interested in joining a birding safari in Liwonde National Park or if you’d like to find out more about the many bird species that live and visit the park throughout the year, then kindly contact

 Photo Credits: Featured photo by Dr. Ruth Shakespeare.'