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2012-08-19
Aves bird of the week – Giant Kingfisher – Megaceryle maxima


Giant Kingfisher

The Giant Kingfisher - Megaceryle maxima - is the largest Kingfisher in the world. It is found across much of sub-Saharan Africa and is fairly common in South Africa.

Description

The Giant Kingfisher has a long, large black bill, large crest and finely spotted white and black upperparts. The male has a chestnut breast band and otherwise white underparts with dark flank barring, and the female has a white-spotted black breast band and chestnut belly.

Call

The call is a loud wak wak wak.

Food

They feed mainly crabs, with fish and frogs making up the rest of the diet. Prey is caught in the typical kingfisher way by a dive from a perch.

Breeding

The breeding season is normally between July to January. The nest is excavated by both sexes, into a vertical sandbank close to the waterline. It consists of a long tunnel, ending in a chamber.  The female lays 3 to 5 eggs, which are incubated for 25 to 27 days by both sexes. The chicks are fed mainly by the male every one to four hours and stay dependent on the parents for between 56 to 60 days.

Conservation Status – Least Concern

This species has an extremely large range and is fairly common in protected areas. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to pesticide run-off from adjacent farmland. It is shot as a pest at some trout hatcheries.

Birdwatching

Ask Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures to create a tour for you or book on one of the following Aves Birding Tour/Safaris/Adventures scheduled tours to see these large kingfishers: -

Aves Eastern Cape Birding Tour / Safari /Adventure.

Aves Highlands / Tembe Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves KZN Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North East Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North West Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves Western Cape Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves West Coast Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

 Photographed by Peter Sievers

 


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