SHAKATI BUSH FACTS #2 – KINGFISHERS

Overview

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:

Kingfishers

  • (Wikipedia) the photos were sourced from Wikipedia (please refer to the references section)
  • Other photographs by Johan Fourie

Pied Kingfisher

Roberts Name Afrikaans Latin Name
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

Length: 17cm

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

Giant Kingfisher

Roberts Name Afrikaans Latin Name
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

Half-collared Kingfisher

Roberts Name Afrikaans Latin Name
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

Height: 18cm

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

Malachite Kingfisher

Roberts Name Afrikaans Latin Name
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

Height: 14cm

Colour: Head is greenish blue, Eye is brown, Bill is red, Throat is white, Back is blue, and Legs are orange

Diet: Fish

African Pygmy Kingfisher

Roberts Name Afrikaans Latin Name
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

Height: 12-13cm

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

Call: tsip-tsip

Woodland Kingfisher

Photographs by Jane and Steen Damgaard and Johan Fourie

Roberts Name Afrikaans Latin Name
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

Height: 20-23cm

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.

Diet: Insects

Call: loud trill sounding like a nail run down the teeth of a comb

Brown-hooded Kingfisher

Brown-Hooded Kingfisher

Roberts Name Afrikaans Latin Name
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

Height: 24cm

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

Grey-headed Kingfisher

Roberts Name Afrikaans Latin Name
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

Height: 21cm

Colour: a pale grey head, black mantle and back, bright blue rump, wings and tail, and chestnut underparts

Diet: Insects

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”

Striped Kingfisher

Roberts Name Afrikaans Latin Name
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

Height: 16-18cm

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

Conclusion

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.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingfisher

http://www.thekruger.com/knpbirds/alcedosemitorquata.htm

http://www.thekruger.com/knpbirds/alcedocristata.htm

http://www.thekruger.com/knpbirds/ispidinapicta.htm

http://www.thekruger.com/knpbirds/halcyonalbiventris.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown-hooded_kingfisher

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey-headed_kingfisher

http://sabap2.adu.org.za/docs/sabap1/436.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Striped_kingfisher

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half-collared_kingfisher

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_pygmy_kingfisher

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