During the twentieth century human activity has created many new habitats now utilised by birds. The House Sparrow is entirely dependent on man-made structures and is new to the Zambian avifauna. Several species, particularly of Swallow, are now much more common than previously.
Buildings and Permanent Structures
Buildings made of permanent materials are used for nesting by the Grey-headed Sparrow. This sparrow and the Mosque Swallow regularly nest in electrical installations. The House Sparrow, which first appeared in Zambia in 1965, is more strictly confined to towns than the Grey-headed Sparrow and is particularly common at grain milling factories. Several other birds originally associated with rocky habitats have occupied towns. Thus the Little Swift nests under overhangs at the top of tall structures such as silos. Less frequently, the Peregrine Falcon and African Rock Martin occur at modern buildings. The Barn and Spotted Eagle Owls often nest in roofs and on the Nyika Plateau the Red-rumped and Blue (m) Swallows nest under eaves.
Concrete bridges are regularly used for nesting by the Little African White-rumped Swifts (m) and Lesser Striped and Wire-tailed Swallows. In northern Zambia the Red-throated Cliff Swallow (m) nests mainly under bridges and is currently expanding its range. In the Mbala areas, the Red-rumped Swallow also nests under bridges. Culverts under roads are the main nesting site of the Red-breasted Swallow.
A number of nocturnal birds perch on roads at night and may be killed by traffic. These include the Three-banded and Bronze-winged Coursers, Spotted Eagle Owl and nightjars. During the day doves, particularly the Cape Turtle Dove, come to untarred roads to ingest grit. At times, European Swallows (m) perch in flocks on tarred roads.
In some areas Pied Crows regularly nest in pylons. Raptors that frequently perch on pylons include the Brown Snake Eagle and Dark Chanting Goshawk. Electricity and telephone wires are used as perches by many species including Black-shouldered Kite, Namaqua Dove (m) European (m) and Lilac-breasted Rollers, European Swallow (m), Sooty Chat, Red-backed (m), Lesser Grey (m) and Fiscal Shrikes, Fork-tailed Drongo and the various species of indigobird.
Suburban gardens may have a relatively rich avifauna. The presence of water attracts such seed-eating species as weavers, bishops, whydahs, firefinches, waxbills, mannikins, indigobirds, widows and canaries. Nectar-bearing flowers attract sunbirds. Dense shrubbery provides suitable habitat for Heuglin’s Robin and Tropical Boubou. Fruit trees may attract the Red-faced Mousebird.
In Eastern Zambia the African Pied Wagtail often occurs in villages. Within its range, the Red-billed Firefinch may nest in thatched roofs. Where eucalyptus trees have been planted in rural settlements, they are often used for nesting by the Pied Crow and Village Weaver.
Farm dams are common in commercial farming areas and usually attract many species of waterbird. The standing dead trees in new dams may be used as nesting sites by the scarce White-breasted Cormorant.
On commercial farms, extensive cleared areas may attract migrant raptors such as Lesser spotted and Steppe Eagles, Lesser kestrel and Eastern Red-footed Falcon. Bare fields may be used by Abdim’s Stork (m), Crowned Plover (m), Red-capped Lark (m), Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark, Richard’s and Buffy (m) Pipits and Capped Wheatear (m). Wheat crops may be attacked by flocks of Red-billed Quelea.
Land cleared for more traditional agriculture is often used by such species as Kurrichane Buttonquail, Laughing and Cape Turtle Doves, Red Bishop, Yellow Bishop, Black-winged, White-winged, and Red-collared Whydahs, and Common Waxbill.