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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Alcedinidae (alcedinid kingfishers)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora >Aves (birds) > Order: Coraciiformes

Species indigenous to southern Africa

Alcedo cristata (Malachite kingfisher) 

The Malachite kingfisher is common in many areas of southern Africa, living in a wide variety of aquatic habitats. It feeds mainly on fish, as well as amphibians and insects. Both sexes dig a burrow, which is used as a nesting site, and placed in the banks of rivers or streams. It lays 3-6 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes, for 14-16 days. The chicks are brooded for the first few weeks of their lives, before leaving the nest at 22-25 days old. They start fishing within one week of fledging, sometimes "catching" twigs and leaves. They are chased away by their parents at 36-41 days old.

Alcedo semitorquata (Half-collared kingfisher) 

The Half-collared kingfisher is widespread but uncommon, with populations scattered across sub-Saharan Africa. In southern Africa, it is most common in Zimbabwe and South Africa's rivers, streams and estuaries. Its diet consists mostly of fish, which it hunts by sitting on a perch for long periods then, once it spots a fish, diving in to catch it. It nests in burrows dug into vertical riverbanks, excavated by both sexes. Here it lays 1-6, usually 3-4 eggs which are incubated by both sexes. The chicks probably remain in the nest for about 27 days, learning to fly soon after emerging.

Ispidina picta (African pygmy-kingfisher, Pygmy kingfisher)

The African pygmy-kingfisher is widespread across sub-Saharan Africa, partly due to its ability to live in a wide range of woodland types. Unlike many other Alcedinid kingfishers, the African pygmy-kingfisher rarely eats fish, but rather feeds mainly insects, occasionally small vertebrates. It is an intra-African breeding migrant, arriving here in September-October. Soon afterwards, it starts breeding, laying 3-6 eggs in a burrow dug into a sandbank. The chicks stay in the nest for a 2-3 weeks, after which they rapidly develop hunting skills, becoming fully independent soon after fledging. Then, the juveniles and adults migrate back to other parts of Africa.