Tuesday 21 May
Grey-headed kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala)
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Grey-headed kingfisher fact file
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Grey-headed kingfisher description
The grey-headed kingfisher is an insect-eating kingfisher with a silvery-grey head, nape and breast and a distinctive chestnut belly (3) (4) (5).The wing primaries are black, while the secondaries and the tail are cobalt-blue (3) (5). The straight, dagger shaped bill is bright orangey-red (3) (5) (6). Although the sexes are alike in appearance, immature birds tend to be duller and have a blackish bill and dark barring across the chest (3) (5).
- Also known as
- Chestnut-bellied kingfisher, gray-headed kingfisher, gray-hooded kingfisher.
- Martin-chasseur à tête grise.
- Length: 20 cm (2)
- The African Bird Club:
- BirdLife International:
- The act of keeping eggs warm so that development is possible.
- In birds, the main flight feathers projecting along the outer edge of the wing.
- In birds, the shorter flight feathers projecting along the inner edge of the wing.
- IUCN Red List (December, 2008)
- Alden, P.C., Estes, R.D., Schlitter, D. and McBride, B. (1996) Collins Guide to African Wildlife. HarperCollins Publishers, London.
- Richards, D. (2001) A Photographic Guide to Birds of East Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
- Sinclair, I. (1994) Ian Sinclair's Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
- Sinclair, I. and Davidson, I. (2006) Southern African Birds: A Photographic Guide. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
- Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
- BirdLife International (April, 2009)
- Biodiversity Explorer: The Web of Life in Southern Africa (April, 2009)
- World Database on Protected Areas (April, 2009)
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Grey-headed kingfisher biology
Despite the name, the grey-headed kingfisher does not feed on fish, but instead thrives on a wide variety of insects, such as grasshoppers, cockroaches and beetles, and occasionally takes small vertebrates such as lizards (3) (8). Like other kingfishers, this species generally sits still on a perch, before diving steeply down to the ground in pursuit of prey (6) (8).
The nest, which is excavated by both sexes, consists of a tunnel up to a metre long, dug into a riverbank, gully or termite mound (2) (8). Egg-laying occurs between September and December, with three to four eggs incubated by both parent birds for around 20 days (8).Top
Grey-headed kingfisher rangeTop
Grey-headed kingfisher habitatTop
Grey-headed kingfisher status
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Grey-headed kingfisher threatsTop
Grey-headed kingfisher conservation
There are currently no known conservation measures in place for the grey-headed kingfisher. However, given its widespread distribution, it is likely to occur in numerous protected areas across its range (9).Top
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