Olive-flanked Robin-Chat (Cossypha anomala) lives in the forest understory in northern Malawi. This photo was taken in Mwenembwe Forest in Nyika National Park. Photo © Josh Engel.

The Field Museum has collaborated with the National Museums of Malawi since 2003 to make a comprehensive inventory of birds throughout this small central African country. While Malawi may be best known for the huge Rift Valley lake along it’s eastern border from which the country's name is derived, the country has a fantastic diversity of habitats, from the high-altitude grasslands and montane forests of the Nyika Plateau in the north to extensive miombo woodland--a woodland type unique to south-central Africa--to the isolated massifs in the south like Mount Mulanje and the Zomba Plateau.

Few collections had been made in Malawi in the last half-century until the Field Museum’s recent work. Continued responsible collecting in Malawi provides baseline data that can be compared with both historical collections and will be available for a wide variety of studies far into the future.

Our work in Malawi has included small mammal surveys in addition to the birds. This work resulted in the discovery and description of a very small new species of shrew on the Nyika Plateau, Myosorex gnoskei (Kerbis Peterhans et al. 2008; a pdf of this paper can be found on the publications page).

Also see the students page to learn about projects involving Malawian biodiversity.

African Pygmy Kingfisher (Ispidina picta) is not closely associated with water. In fact, it eats mostly insects and other terrestrial arthropods. Photo © Jason D. Weckstein..
Babbling Starling (Neocichla gutteralis) belongs to a monotypic genus and has a patchy distribution across miombo woodlands of south-central Africa. It is common in Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve, where this photo was taken. Photo © Jason D. Weckstein.