Welcome to the second edition of Shakati Bush Facts. The aim of these Bush Facts is to share some of the spectacular wildlife, birds, reptiles and insects facts and photographs. Shakati is committed to Nature Conservation, and as part of Nature Conservation comes awareness. Thus, the more we learn the more we are aware of what happens in the bush.
In this article, we will focus on the Kingfisher family, and will share some of the interesting facts around these beautiful birds.
About the Kingfisher Family
Kingfishers are a group of small to medium-sized, brightly coloured birds and can be found next to running water or in the bushveld. Kingfishers nest in cavities, usually tunnels dug into the natural or artificial banks in the ground. A quarter of all kingfishers nest in abandoned termite nests.
Scientific classification: Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Aves, Order: Coraciiformes
What kind of Kingfisher birds can be seen at Shakati?
Shakati Private Game Reserve has been blessed with nine different types of Kingfishers. These include Pied Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher Half-collared Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, African Pygmy, Kingfisher, Woodland Kingfisher, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Grey-headed Kingfisher, and Striped Kingfisher
The following table provides a quick reference guide to the Kingfishers found in Shakati Private Game Reserve:
- (Wikipedia) the photos were sourced from Wikipedia (please refer to the references section)
- Other photographs by Johan Fourie
|428||Pied Kingfisher||Bontviesvanger||Ceryle rudis|
Pied kingfisher can usually be found next to the water, and is distinguishable via its black and white plumage, crest and the habit of hovering over clear rivers before diving for fish. Males have a double band across the breast while females have a single gorget that is often broken in the middle
Scientific Classification: Family: Alcedinidae, Subfamily: Cerylinae, Genus: Ceryle (F. Boie, 1828), Species: C. rudis
Colour: white with a black mask, a white supercilium and black breast bands. The crest is neat and the upperparts are barred in black
Diet: Fish, large aquatic insects such as dragonfly larvae
|429||Giant Kingfisher||Reuse Visvanger||Megaceryle maxima|
The Giant Kingfisher is the largest kingfisher in Africa, and can easily be spotted next to rivers or dams.
Scientific classification: Family: Alcedinidae, Subfamily: Cerylinae, Genus: Megaceryle , Species: M. maxima
Length: 42–48 cm
Colour: 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
Call: The call is a loud wak wak wak.
Diet: crabs, fish, and frog
|430||Half-collared Kingfisher||Blouvisvanger||Alcedo semitorquata|
The Half Collared Kingfisher is approximately the size of a house sparrow, and can be found near water at all times. It differs from the Malachite Kingfisher by having a blue beak and blue sides to its face.
Scientific classification: Family: Alcedinidae, Subfamily: Alcedininae, Genus: Alcedo, Species: A. semitorquata
Colour: The male and female Half-collared Kingfisher has the same plumage and colours. Head is blue, Eye is brown, Bill is black, Throat is white, Back is blue and Legs are red.
Diet: Fish and Invertebrates
|431||Malachite Kingfisher||Kuifkopvisvanger||Alcedo cristata|
The Malachite Kingfisher can be found near water, and is one of the most common kingfishers. Interesting fact: It is estimated that the Malachite Kingfisher is one of the most photographed birds in southern Africa.
Scientific classification: Family: Alcedinidae, Subfamily: Alcedininae, Genus: Corythornis, Species: C. cristatus
Colour: Head is greenish blue, Eye is brown, Bill is red, Throat is white, Back is blue, and Legs are orange
African Pygmy Kingfisher
|432||African Pygmy Kingfisher||Dwergvisvanger||Ispidina picta|
The African Pygmy Kingfisher is very rarely spotted as it migrates a lot through trees looking for food, and is one of the smallest kingfishers. The primary difference between the African Pygmy Kingfisher is the shape of the crown and the violet wash on the ear.
Scientific Classification: Family: Alcedinidae, Subfamily: Alcedininae, Genus: Ispidina, Species: I. picta
Colour: rufous underparts and a blue back extending down to the tail, dark blue crown and violet wash on the ear
Diet: insects like grasshoppers, praying mantis, worms, crickets, dragonflies, cockroaches and moths
Photographs by Jane and Steen Damgaard and Johan Fourie
|433||Woodland Kingfisher||Bosveldvisvanger||Halcyon senegalensis|
The Woodland Kingfisher is mainly found in the bushveld trees on Shakati, and its call is a loud trill sounding like a nail run down the teeth of a comb.
Scientific Classification: Family: Alcedinidae, Subfamily: Halcyoninae, Genus: Halcyon, Species: H. senegalensis
Colour: 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 dark gray.
Call: loud trill sounding like a nail run down the teeth of a comb
|435||Brown-hooded Kingfisher||Bruinkopvisvanger||Halcyon albiventris|
The Brown Hooded Kingfisher is easily mistaken with the Striped Kingfisher, with the Brown Hooded Kingfishers head looking totally brown whereas the Striped Kingfisher has a white throat and dark stripe across the eye , and is usually found perching on river banks or branches overlooking the river. .
Scientific Classification: Family: Alcedinidae, Subfamily: Halcyoninae, Genus: Halcyon, Species: H. albiventris
Colour: Head is brown, Eye is brown, Bill is red, Throat is white, Back is black, Legs are orange.
Diet: fish and other aquatic life forms
|436||Grey-headed Kingfisher||Gryskopvisvanger||Halcyon leucocephala|
The Grey-headed Kingfisher is found in woodland, scrub and cultivated areas, up to altitudes of about 2,200 metres, often found near water but don’t feed on fish. . In appearance very like the brown-hooded kingfisher but with a red rather than red and black bill and similar to the woodland kingfisher, but the woodland kingfisher lacks the chestnut belly and has greater coverage of cyan feathers on the back.
Scientific Classification: Family: Alcedinidae, Genus: Halcyon, Species: H. leucocephala
Colour: a pale grey head, black mantle and back, bright blue rump, wings and tail, and chestnut underparts
Call: succession of notes, ascending, descending and then ascending again, becoming increasingly strident. The warning call is a series of sharp notes, “tchk, tchk, tchk, tchk”
|437||Striped Kingfisher||Gestreepte Visvanger||Halcyon chelicuti|
The Striped Kingfisher 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.
Scientific Classification: Family: Alcedinidae, Subfamily: Halcyoninae, Genus: Halcyon, Species: H. chelicuti
Colour: greyish brown on the upper part of the body, secondary flight feathers, and tail are metallic blue. The wing linings are white with a black border, and in males a black bar at the base of the primaries. The underparts are off-white, buffier on the breast, with brown streaks on the sides. Also streaked dark brown is the top of the head, with the background buffy grey in males and brownish in females. The sides of the head, throat, and a collar around the back of the neck continue the off-white of the underparts. A black line goes around the back of the neck, above the white collar, and through the eyes. The bill is blackish above and at the tip, otherwise reddish-orange below
Diet: Insects, small lizards, snakes and rodents
Kingfishers are some of the wonders of nature where the species are extremely colourful, and light up the sky at river banks or in the woods.
Hope you enjoyed the second of the Shakati Bush facts. Please post any comments suggestions or feedback around this article. See you next time.