Nature Quest

Activity #16

Migratory Birds

Zimbabwe has 674 bird species. Not all these bird species are resident in the country throughout the year, they migrate to different parts of the world.

How many migrant bird species do you think are found in the country?????
Migration is the seasonal movement of birds from one place to another. Zimbabwe is host to over 140 species of migratory birds.

The birds migrate from Europe, Asia and other parts of Africa.
Most migratory bird species arrive in Zimbabwe in summer (just before the rains starts) and depart at the end of the rainy season (as the rains depart).

You need to complete the Birdwatching Challenge first before completing the Migratory Birds challenge

Did you know Migration can be extremely dangerous for birds, and many don’t often make it back to their starting point. Human activities are the main cause of death for birds during migration?

  • Binoculars
  • Bird ID guide e.g. Enjoy the Birds of Zimbabwe Booklet, Roberts’ Waterbirds of Zimbabwe Booklet, Migratory Birds of Zimbabwe Booklet
  • Bird ID Applications e.g. Apps for sale (Roberts’ Bird Application and Sasol Birds of Southern Africa) free apps (Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab)
  • BirdLasser app
  • Pen and a bird checklist to record birds seen and heard (find a checklist by going to Birding in Zimbabwe, click on the listed area nearest to you and then click on the green Checklist button at the bottom of the area’s page)
  • Camera
  • Migratory birds of Zimbabwe checklist
1. Just like in the Birdwatching challenge head out into your school grounds or local green space (you’ll find different birds in different places but no matter where you go, please make sure you have permission to be there and that the spot you choose is safe).

2. Be still and be quiet and start watching the birds. Which species are you seeing? Are they the regular species or you are seeing something new? If it is something new it might just be a migratory.
What colour is it? What sound is it making? Where are you seeing the bird? How is the bird behaving? Write down all your answers on a piece of paper.

3. Now look through your birding books and try to identify the bird. Is it a resident bird or it’s a migratory bird?

Sites in Harare where you could do this activity: 

  • Mukuvisi Woodlands
  • Haka Park
  • Monavale Vlei
  • Lake Chivero

Other areas:

  • Hillside dams, Bulawayo
  • Cecil Kop, Mutare
  • Gosho Park, Marondera

Migratory birds appear all over the country so try this activity anywhere.



Find a Flock

You will need:
Sets of cards with the following bird names and pictures. You can use as many sets as you need to ensure each child has a card:

Blacksmith Lapwing – ‘klink klink klink’
Pied Crow – ‘kraah khrrr kraah khrrr’
Blue Waxbill – ‘sweep-sweep’
Cape Turtle Dove –‘Work harder, work harder, work harder’
Grey Go-away-bird – ‘go-away g’away’
Crested Barbet ‘tr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r’
Dark-capped Bulbul – ‘quick-chop-toquick’

1. Show the cards illustrating and naming the chosen species and describe their songs or play a recording of them. Get the children to imitate these sounds.

2. Then give each of the children a card. They must keep the name a secret, but have to find the other children with the same cards by imitating the bird song or call loudly.

3. While ‘singing’ or ‘calling’, the children can move around until the various flocks come together.

Don’t forget to email or send us photos/drawings/writing to or to demonstrate you’ve completed this activity.

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