Having traveled with my son Pat’s family to Africa, I wanted to share about African birds. (FYI: We made this trip in 2019!) 

We visited my daughter, Andrea.  Since Andy lives and works in Malawi, we visited this East African country! Among the animals we were privileged to see, I rank birds rank pretty high.

Back in the United States, I always notice and listen to the Virginia birds in my neighborhood. I love the cardinals because I have mastered most of their calls. Embarrassingly, I even whistle a “Hello, how are you?” to the birds in my neighborhood.  At times, I feel connected as I send out a gentle vibration of “Hello, neighbor!”

And watching the starlings perform their acrobatic dance during their murmurations takes my breath away.  (Google this if you have never experienced this almost-mystical movement.)

JB tells all about African birds

While in Africa, I requested information from our guides about the African birds we saw. Justin Ngulube (JB) was a master bird watcher in Liwonde National Park. He shared tons of information with us. I was awed to see so many birds around the river and the lake. Here are a few of my favorites!

The Hornbill (Zazu in the movie, The Lion King)


JB explained Zazu was a Swahili word (how cool that Disney created a character using an African language). Also, I discovered this African bird is an omnivore. It eats insects and reptiles, as well as fruit.

African Fish-Eagle

African fish eagle

The African Fish Eagle reminded me of the American Bald Eagle. Seeing bald eagles in Virginia is a rare treat. And so we loved seeing the fish-eagle swoop down to grab a fish thrown by our boat captain!

Red-eyed Dove

The lively hoot of this particular African bird entrances me. To hear the hoot, go to 2:01 timestamp in this video. But it’s in the background, so you have to listen closely. Surprisingly delightful, you can hear an infectious rhythm in its hoot. It’s much more fun than my Virginia doves’ hoots. (Sorry, Virginia doves.)

Listen to my “unique” (hah!) rendition of the red-eyed dove’s song.


Maribeth practices the call of the African red-eyed dove

Village Weaver

Village Weaver bird and next

Once I knew what I was looking for, I noticed Village Weaver nests everywhere.  I first thought the nests were leftover foliage, then realized how well they were designed and built.

There was a nest so big, it looked like it might actually be a three-story townhouse. I thought, maybe this bird has an extended family living with her! But most nests are smaller.




Malachite Kingfisher

African bird malachite kingfisher

Many times, these African birds hover over the water like a hummingbird, then dive in to catch fish. And they’re gorgeous! Their nests are dug out of the riverbank, rather like the Anasazi cliff dwellings in the southwest United States.

Watch a Kingfisher in action!

Common Kingfisher. Bird catching a fish. David Attenborough's opinion.


Hamerkop bird


Hamerkops are waders related to pelicans. Honestly, their head shape intrigues me. We saw them everywhere on the Shire River.


Lilac-breasted Roller

Lilac-breasted roller bird

We searched for this beauty and finally saw it! It was quite a challenge because it was so small. But it’s incredibly beautiful, don’t you think?

5 Practices for listening to the language of birds.

Watch more videos from my trip to Africa on my YouTube Channel.

Read my blog, Meeting Animals in Africa.