Tag Archives: kingfisher

Bird of the Week – Week 120 – Brown-hooded kingfisher

Brown-hooded kingfishers are fairly widespread in Africa, being found as far north as Somalia and as far south as the Cape in South Africa. Within the southern African region its distribution is limited to the wetter eastern half of the country and it is virtually absent from the arid west. It favours well wooded areas along streams, rivers or dams, where it spends a great deal of time just sitting quietly in the shade.

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It is a medium sized kingfisher, with a length of about 24 cm.; a pretty bird, with a black back and wings, with a bright blue rump and greyish-blue tail; its forehead and crown are brown, its throat white and the remainder of the under parts light brown. The long bill is red with a darker tip; eyes are dark brown; legs and feet are red or orange. Sexes are similar in colouration and the females are slightly larger than the females.

Brown-hooded kingfisher

The call of the Brown-hooded kingfisher is a weakly trilled “ki-ti-ti-ti”. It is a solitary bird and is usually found singly or in pairs.

The Brown-hooded kingfisher usually hunts from a perch and  feeds mainly on insects, chameleons, small snakes and rodents as well as fish.

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The Brown-hooded kingfisher is monogamous and nests in a horizontal tunnel, up to 1.2 metres in length, which it excavates in a vertical sand bank. The female lays a clutch of between two and five white eggs that hatch after an incubation period of approximately 14 days.

Brown-hooded kingfisher

The scientific binomial for the Brown-hooded kingfisher is Halcyon albiventris; Halcyon from the Greek name for a mythical bird, now associated with the kingfisher, that was able to calm the sea, particularly around the December solstice (thus the English term “halcyon days”), and albiventris from the Latin for “white below”. Thus the name describes a bird that calms the sea and has white under parts. Well, the white under parts is correct, but that’s it!

Brown-hooded kingfisher

Bird of the Week – Week 99 – Malachite kingfisher

The Malachite kingfisher is one of the smallest of the kingfishers found in the southern African region and is also one of the most beautiful. Its range includes most of Africa south of the Sahara, but within the southern African region its presence is limited to the areas of higher rainfall and it is largely absent from Namibia and Botswana.

Malachite kingfisher

The Malachite kingfisher is approximately 14 cm in length and the males and females are similar in size and plumage. They have bright metallic blue upper parts; the face, cheeks and under parts are rufous and they have white patches on the throat and neck. The head carries a short crest of black and blue feathers; the bill is redish-orange; the legs and feet are red and the eyes are dark brown.

Malachite kingfisher

Malachite kingfishers are commonly found along slow moving rivers, lakes and ponds, where they can be seen amongst the reeds or perched on a convenient branch, usually low over the water, from which it fishes. Large fish are usually beaten on a branch or other convenient hard surface before being swallowed head first, while small fish and insects are quickly eaten.

The call of the Malachite kingfisher is a shrill “seek“.

Malachite kingfisher

They are monogamous and build a nest by excavating a tunnel, which may be up to a metre in length, into a sandy bank. The female lays a clutch of white eggs on the sand at the end of the tunnel, without the benefit of a real nest, although the eggs are often surrounded by discarded fish bones. The eggs hatch after an incubation period of approximately 15 days days.

Malachite kingfisher

The scientific binomial for the Malachite kingfisher is Alcedo cristata; Alcedo from the Latin for a “kingfisher”, and cristata from the Latin for “crested”. Thus a crested kingfisher, which is accurate enough, although several of the other kingfishers have crests that are more noticeable than the Malachite’s.

Malachite kingfisher