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Halcyon albiventris (Brown-hooded kingfisher) 

Bruinkopvisvanger [Afrikaans]; Undozela [Xhosa]; iNdwazela, uNongobotsha, uNongozolo [Zulu]; Muningi (generic term for kingfisher) [Kwangali]; Sipholoti (also applied to Malachite kingfisher) [Swazi]; Tshololwana (generic term for kingfisher) [Tsonga]; Bruinkapijsvogel [Dutch]; Martin-chasseur à tête brune [French]; Braunkopfliest [German]; Pica-peixe-de-barrete-castanho [Portuguese]

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 > Family: Dacelonidae

Halcyon albiventris (Brown-hooded kingfisher)  Halcyon albiventris (Brown-hooded kingfisher)

Brown-hooded kingfisher, Raisethorpe, Kwa-Zulu Natal. [photo Alan Manson ©]

Brown-hooded kingfisher with frog. [photo Peter Steyn ©]

The Brown-hooded kingfisher is common in the eastern half of southern Africa, mainly living in woodland habitats, as well as heavily wooded gardens and parks. It has a broad and varied diet, eating a wide variety of animals, rarely eating fish. Both sexes excavate the nest, which is a burrow, normally dug into the walls of gullies. It lays 2-5, rarely 6 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female, for about 14 days. Very little is known about the young. It seems that they are fed mainly fed by the female, and they are fed by their parents after fledging.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from the Congo and Kenya south to southern Africa, where it is common in the Caprivi Strip (Namibia), northern and eastern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa, due its adaptability and broad diet. Unlike many other kingfishers it does not fish often, so it can often be found far from water. It generally prefers dense woodland, riverine woodland, thickets, edges of evergreen forest, plantations, wooded grassland, large gardens and parks.

Distribution of Brown-hooded kingfisher in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Greater honeyguide.


It has a varied diet which includes insects, mammals, birds, reptiles and rarely  fish. It hunts by sitting on a perch, searching for prey. Once prey is located, it rapidly flies down to grab it with its bill, before flying back to its perch. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Both sexes excavate a burrow, which is used as their nesting site. It is normally dug into the banks of gullies, consisting of a roughly one metre long tunnel, ending in a 25-30cm wide chamber.
  • Egg-laying season is normally from September-December.
  • It lays 2-5, rarely 6 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 14 days.
  • Very little is known about the young, besides that they are fed mainly fed by the female.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.