The Luangwa boasts the rich tropical birdlife that you would expect of such a fertile valley. This includes species that prefer a dry habitat of plains and forests, and those that live close to water. As the Luangwa is situated between southern and east Africa, keen birdwatchers may want to arrive with two field guides, each describing birds from one region, so that between them they will cover the full range of species encountered in the valley.
Better still, bring a good guide to southern Africa's birds, like Newmann's guide, and buy Aspinwall and Beel's Zambian guide locally. See Further Reading
to explain the logic of this.
Species of note include flocks of crowned cranes occurring on the marshes of the Nsefu Sector; the colonies of iridescent carmine bee-eaters which nest in sandy river banks in September and October; the African skimmers found along the river; and the giant eagle owls which are sometimes picked out by the spotlight on night drives.
The best time for birds is the summer: the rainy season. The birds' food supply is then at its most abundant, and the summer migrants are around. Just drive into the park during the rains and it becomes immediately apparent that both the vegetation and the birdlife are running riot. Dry plains have sprouted thick, green vegetation mirrored all around in shallow water. Flocks of egrets, herons and storks wade through this, around feeding geese and ducks.
Many species breed here, including storks that often form impressive colonies. There are several sites of tall trees in the Nsefu Sector which, when surrounded by shallow water, regularly become breeding colonies. The most amazing of these has half a dozen huge trees filled with nests of yellow-billed storks in their spectacular pink breeding plumage. This is one of the Luangwa's most remarkable sights.