Spacer Spacer
I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Kingfisher

   

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. There are 93 species worldwide and 9 species which occur in Namibia.

Half-collared Kingfisher Alcedo semitorquata


The Half-collared Kingfisher Alcedo semitorquata is a species of kingfisher that feeds almost exclusively on fish and can be found near water at all times. It can be found on shores and around larger bodies of water in Southern and Eastern Africa.

Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata

The Malachite Kingfisher (Alcedo cristata) is a river kingfisher which is widely distributed in Africa south of the Sahara. It is largely resident except for seasonal climate related movements.

This is a small kingfisher, 13 cm in length. The general colour of the upper parts of the adult bird is bright metallic blue. The head has a short crest of black and blue feathers, which gives rise to the scientific name. The face, cheeks and underparts are rufous and there are white patches on the throat and rear neck sides.

The bill is black in young birds and reddish orange in adults; the legs are bright red. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are a duller version of the adult.

This is a common species of reeds and rank vegetation near slow moving water or ponds. The flight of the Malachite Kingfisher is rapid, the short rounded wings whirring until they appear a mere blur. It usually flies low over water.

The bird has regular perches or stands from which it fishes. These are usually low over the water. It sits upright, its tail pointed downwards. It drops suddenly with a splash and usually returns at once with a struggling captive.

Large food items are beaten on a bough or rail; small fish and insects are promptly swallowed. A fish is usually lifted and carried by its middle, but its position is changed, sometimes by tossing it into the air, before it is swallowed head downwards. Fish, aquatic insects and crustaceans are eaten.

The nest is a tunnel in a sandy bank, usually, though not always, over water. Both birds excavate. Most burrows incline upward before the nesting chamber is reached.
There is no nest, but three or four clutches of 3-6 round white eggs are placed on a litter of fish bones and disgorged pellets.

The call of this kingfisher is then a short shrill seek. The breeding song is a chuckling li-cha-cha-chui-chui.

There is a closely related species in Madagascar, the Madagascar Malachite Kingfisher, or Malagasy Kingfisher, (Alcedo vintsioides). This has a black bill and greenish crest, and is not quite as dependent on water as the African species. It is otherwise similar in plumage and behaviour to the more widespread species.

African Pygmy-Kingfisher Ispidina picta

The African Pygmy Kingfisher (Ispidina picta) is a small insectivorous kingfisher found in the Afrotropics, mostly in woodland habitats. Some texts refer to this species as Ceyx pictus.

The African Pygmy Kingfisher is approximately 12-13 cm in length. A very small kingfisher with rufous underparts and a blue back extending down to the tail. The dark blue crown of the adult separates it from the African Dwarf Kingfisher. The smaller size and violet wash on the ear coverts distinguish it from the similar Malachite Kingfisher.

The natalensis subspecies occurring in the south of the range has paler underparts and a blue spot above the white ear patch. Juveniles have less extensive violet on their ear coverts and a black rather than orange bill. Usually found singly or in pairs. Secretive and unobtrusive. The call is a high-pitched insect-like "tsip-tsip" given in flight. The African Pygmy-Kingfisher is found in woodland, savanna and coastal forest. Being insectivorous, it is not bound to water.

Grey-headed Kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala

The Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala) has a wide distribution from the Cape Verde Islands off the north-west coast of Africa to Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia, east to Ethiopia, Somalia and southern Arabia and south to South Africa.

A dry-country kingfisher of scrub and woodland, solitary or in pairs, often found near water, but unlike most kingfishers is not aquatic. Perches on branch, unmoving for long periods while watching the ground for signs of insects or small lizards, bobbing head before diving on prey. In appearance very like the Woodland Kingfisher but with a red rather than red and black bill and similar to the Brown-hooded Kingfisher, but the Brown-hooded lacks the chestnut belly. Nests in holes in steep riverbanks and is aggressively protective of its nest by repeated dive-bombing of foraging Monitor lizards. It is parasitised by the Greater Honeyguide. This species migrates at night and is often killed by flying into obstacles such as buildings, towers and powerlines.

Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis


The Woodland Kingfisher (Halcyon senegalensis) is a tree kingfisher.

This is a medium-sized kingfisher, 20–23 cm in length. The adult has a bright blue back, wing panel and tail. Its head, neck and underparts are white, and its shoulders are black. The flight of the Woodland Kingfisher is rapid and direct.

The large bill has a red upper mandible and black lower mandible. The legs are bright red. Some birds may have greyish heads, causing confusion with Mangrove Kingfisher.

However, the lores are dark, creating a dark stripe through the eye (the stripe does not extend through the eye in Mangrove Kingfisher), and the underwing, primaries and secondaries are black with white underwing coverts (there is a black carpal patch on the white coverts in Manrgove Kingfisher). The inner webs of the base of the flight feathers are white, creating an indistinct white wingbar (white completely absent from wings in Mangrove Kingfisher). The breast is white (tends to be much greyer in Mangrove Kingfisher). The sexes are similar, but juveniles are duller than adults and have a brown bill.

Brown-hooded Kingfisher Halcyon albiventris

The Brown-hooded Kingfisher (Halcyon albiventris) is a species of bird in the Halcyonidae family. It is found in Angola, Botswana, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Striped Kingfisher Halcyon chelicuti

The Striped Kingfisher (Halcyon chelicuti) is a species of bird in the tree kingfisher family. It was first described by Edward, Lord Stanley, in Salt's Voyage to Abyssinia in 1814 as "Chelicut Kingfisher" Alaudo Chelicuti.

The genus name Halcyon comes from a bird in Greek legend generally associated with the kingfisher. There was an ancient belief that the halcyon nested on the sea, which it calmed in order to lay its eggs on a floating nest. The species' name chelicuti derives from Chelicut in Ethiopia, the location at which Stanley's type specimen was obtained.

This is a highly territorial bird which will chase off not only others of the same species, but also shrikes, doves and rollers. The territory may be up to three hectares (7.4 acres) in size, and hold 100 tall trees. It is surveyed from a treetop by its owner, who sings from before dawn intermittently until
after midday.

Giant Kingfisher Megaceryle maximus

The Giant Kingfisher (Megaceryle maxima) is the largest kingfisher in Africa, where it is a resident breeding bird over most of the continent south of the Sahara Desert other than the arid southwest.

There are two subspecies, M. m. maxima, found in open country, and M. m. gigantea in the rainforest. The forest race is darker, less spotted above, and more barred below than maxima, but the two forms intergrade along the forest edge zone.

Breeding is from August to January, 3–5 eggs being laid in a riverbank tunnel.

Giant Kingfisher is 42–48 cm long, with a large crest and finely spotted white on black upperparts. The male has a chestnut breast band and otherwise white underparts with dark flank barring, and the female has a white-spotted black breast band and chestnut belly.

The call is a loud wak wak wak.

This large species feeds on crabs, fish, and frogs, caught in the typical kingfisher way by a dive from a perch.

Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis


The Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) is a water kingfisher and is found widely distributed across Africa and Asia. Their black and white plumage, crest and the habit of hovering over clear lakes and rivers before diving for fish makes it distinctive.

This kingfisher is about 17 cm long and is white with a black mask, a white supercilium and black breast bands. The crest is neat and the upperparts are barred in black. Several subspecies are recognized within the broad distribution. The nominate race is found in sub-Saharan Africa, extending into West Asia. A former subspecies syriaca is considered as merely a larger northern bird of the nominate species (following Bergmann's rule).[2] Subspecies leucomelanura is found from Afghanistan east into India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Laos. The subspecies travancoreensis of the Western Ghats is darker with the white reduced. Subspecies C. r. insignis is found in Hainan and southeastern China and has a much larger bill. Males have a narrow second breast-band while females have a single broken breast band.

   
For more information you can visit our website at www.idreamafrica.com.na