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Brown-hooded Kingfisher

April’s bird of the month is the Brown-hooded Kingfisher (Halcyon albiventris).

Brown-hooded Kingfisher

Colouring: Iris brown; bill deep red, tip blackish; legs and feet dark pinkish red; crown brown; upper back black or brown; lower back, rump, tail and wings blue; below buffy white, washed ochre on breast and flanks.

Voice: Repeated phrase of 3-5 sharp notes, falling in pitch, accented on first note, KI-ti-ti-ti, KI-ti-ti-ti; also a long series of even louder notes at the same pitch, ti-ti-ti-ti-ti-ti...; trilling in display.

Habitat: Thickets in woodland and denser savanna, forest edge, riverine and coastal bush, gardens and parks.

Distribution: Common in southern Africa, but absent from most of the highveld and all of the dry western parts and the Kalahari sandveld.

Habits: Solitary or in pairs; pairs display to each other with open wings, bobbing, pivoting and calling. Perches on branches, post or telephone wires, scanning ground below for prey; sometimes dives for fish but less expertly than aquatic kingfishers.

Food: Mainly insects; also lizards (including chameleons), crabs, small rodents, birds (warblers, waxbills, sunbirds), small snakes (up to 25cm long), scorpions.

Breeding season: Mainly September to December.

Incubation and fledging: Incubation: About 14 days. Nestling: Unrecorded; fed by both parents. Clutch: 2-5 white eggs.


Gordon Lindsay Maclean: Roberts’ Birds of Southern Africa, Sixth Edition. 1993.

Kenneth Newman: Newman’s Birds by Colour. 2000.

Photographs are courtesy of Gavin Orbel, Eris Stockenstroom and Mercia Komen of the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy/Oori; this series is a joint venture with Hartebeestfontein Conservancy (text)