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Although Southern Carmine Bee-eaters are a common sight in South Luangwa at this time of year, they are classed as ‘intra-African migrants’ rather than as true residents. These birds occur all over sub-equatorial Africa, but have a fairly unique, complex migratory pattern, which is split into three distinct parts. The birds over-winter in the equatorial savannahs of central Africa, fattening themselves up for their journey southward. Then as August comes around they are on the move, heading southward to their breeding grounds all along Zambia’s rivers, such as the Luangwa and Zambezi , where they excavate holes in the steep riverbanks to nest and raise their chicks in large colonies. By December, once breeding season is over, they begin to move further south for a few months before heading back northwards towards the equator, where they will remain until the next breeding season. Although not considered residents of South Luangwa, some birds may get left behind and can occasionally be spotted at other times of year, especially during the winter when migrating north again.

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