(aka grey-headed kingfisher) Halcyon
This colorful bird is about 7 inches long. It
has a gray head, white breast and chest, cobalt
back, chestnut belly, and bright blue flight
feathers, rump, and tail. The straight
dagger-shaped bill and feet are bright scarlet.
Both sexes are similarly colored, but immature
birds tend to be duller and have a blackish bill
and dark barring across the chest.
The gray-headed kingfisher is common
throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa. It
inhabits a variety of woodland and savannah
habitats, but is most commonly found along rivers
Despite its name, this
kingfisher feeds on a variety of insects, as well
as the occasional small lizard. It generally
sits still on a perch, before diving steeply down
to the ground in pursuit of prey.
Gray-headed kingfishers are believed to mate
for life. Breeding takes place from September to
December. Both sexes work to excavate a tunnel up
to 3 feet long into a riverbank, gully or termite
mound, into which 3-4 pinkish-white eggs are
laid. The eggs are incubated by both parents for
about 20 days, and both parents take care of the
offspring until they fledge at about one month.
Gray-headed kingfishers are extremely
territorial, and will chase off any trespassers.
genus & species Halcyon leucocephala
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