​Birds – Malawi

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Bradt guidebooks to African destinations, including the guide to Malawi.

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Bradt guidebooks to African destinations, including the guide to Malawi.

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Bradt guidebook to Malawi.

Philip is the author of the Bradt guidebook to Malawi.

Malawi offers over 650 bird species, which is an impressive number for a small country. Lake Malawi is great for general waterbirds such as kingfishers, cormorants and egrets, and fish eagles, impressive creatures with a two-meter wingspan, are never far away. Of greater interest to birders are the high-mountain plateaus of Nyika and Viphya, as well as the woodlands of Dzalanyama. Liwonde offers common country specials like Böhm’s bee-eater and Pel’s fishing-owl. Migratory birds are present from October to April.

Notable Birds in Malawi
African openbill
Common
Black heron
Locally common
Böhm’s bee-eater
Locally common
Burchell’s coucal
Common
Pied kingfisher
Common

Birding Rating

Endemic & Near-endemic Birds

(NE) near-endemic = also lives in neighboring countries

Other Birding SpecialsTreats for Avid Birders

Facts & Figures

Birds in Malawi
Bird Species
650+
Migratory Birds
Oct to Apr

Best Time for Bird Watching

Bird watching in Malawi is excellent throughout the year. The best time however is the Wet season, from November to April – this is when migratory birds are present. Wildlife viewing, however, is better in the Dry season (May to October).

Best Parks for Birding Includes Birding Rating

Liwonde NP is very good for general water and woodland birds, as well as some of the Malawi specials. Nyika NP has a different range of specials, many of which are associated with the grassland and forest habitats. Nkhotakota WR is less developed but its miombo woodland is very rewarding birding territory and raptors are especially well represented.

Recommended Birding Books

  • Field Guide to Birds of Greater Southern Africa
    The one southern African guide with complete Malawi coverage.

    John Fanshawe, Terry Stevenson and Keith Barnes
  • Birds of Africa: South of the Sahara
    Complete for Malawi, but within a vast area of coverage.

    Ian Sinclair and Peter Ryan
  • Birds of Zambia (app)
    Dedicated Zambia field guide that’s near complete for Malawi.

    Rory McDougall, Derek Solomon and Frank Willems
  • Roberts Bird Guide (2nd edition; book and app)
    Superb but focused on species recorded south of the Zambezi.

    Hugh Chittenden, Greg Davies and Ingrid Weiersbye

Want To Visit Malawi?

20 Malawi Safaris

Birding Rating

Facts & Figures

Birds in Malawi
Bird Species
650+
Migratory Birds
Oct to Apr