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Kingfisher, Malachite

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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cybeR@NGER
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Kingfisher, Malachite

Unread postby cybeR@NGER » Sat Apr 08, 2006 1:59 pm

Malachite Kingfisher (Alcedo criatata)

Other Names:
Afrikaans: Kuifkopvisvanger
Dutch: malachietijsvogel
French: Martin-pêcheur huppé
German: Malachiteisvogel, Haubenzwergfischer
Portuguese: Pica-peixe-de-poupa

Classification:
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Alcedinidae
Genus: Alcedo

Identification: This is a common, small, aquatic kingfisher, 14 cm in length. Sexes are alike, but juveniles are a duller version of the adult. The general colour of the upper parts of the adult bird is bright metallic blue. The head has a short crest of black and blue feathers, which gives rise to the scientific name. The face, cheeks and underparts are rufous and there are white patches on the throat and rear neck sides. The bill is black in juveniles up to three months and reddish orange in adults. The eyes are dark brown and legs and feet bright red.

Voice: Call is a short, sharp, kweek or seek, given in flight, often rapidly repeated. They sing in duet, ii-tiii-cha-cha, chui chui tiiichui, ending in chuckle. Chuckle is given by perching pair. Nestling wheezes.

Distribution: Throughout more central areas of Africa, from Senegambia to western Ethipia, south to South Africa; also São Tomé, Pemba, Zanzibar and Mafia Is, Tanzania. In southern Africa, from northern Namibia to northern Botswana and eastern South Africa; also along Orange River valley, and in southern coastal districts.

Habitat: This bird is strictly aquatic. Prefers well vegetated, slow flowing rivers and streams, but not with canopy closed over water. Also on dams, sheltered shores, coastal lagoons, tidal estuaries, mangrove swamps, sewage ponds and irrigation canals. They are less common in tropical forest zone (where it is largely replaced by congeners) than in savannas and absent from arid zones.

General Habits: Solitary or in pairs. When disturbed flies fast and low over water for a short distance before reaching next perch again. Bathes by repeatedly diving with splashing belly flop and flying out to land on perch on opposite bank, shaking after each dip, then preening. When handled, performs Head-twisting dispaly, stiffly turning head repeatedly from side to side, through nearly 180°, with bill slightly open, forehead feathers raised high.

Foraging & Food: Perches usually low over the water, sitting motionless, peering intently into the water, occasionally flicking tail or head-bobbing once or twice, or turning rapidly to scan in opposite direction. Occasionally, suddenly raises then lowers crest. Dives steeply into water, fishing mainly within a few centimetres of surface. Carries prey back to perch, where it is beaten and swallowed whole. Also dives obliquely towards ground at the edge of the water to seize insects, or hawks flying insects from perch.
Eats small fish, tadpoles, frogs, aquatic insects ( water bettles,water boatman, larvae), dragonflies, mantids, beetles, grasshoppers, small crustaceans (including prawns and crabs) and lizards.

Breeding: The breeding season is from August to November. Monogamous, solitary nester and territorial. The nest is a burrow excavated by both sexes in earthen bank, eg along streams, in road cutting, earth mound, soil around upturned roots of fallen tree.

Status: Common resident.

Conservation: Not threatened, but locally vulnerable to river pollution, application of pesticides, and habitat destruction.
Last edited by cybeR@NGER on Sat Apr 08, 2006 2:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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bert
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Unread postby bert » Sat Apr 08, 2006 2:15 pm

Great place to see them is the Sunset dam
They use the concrete block as a diving platform
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Unread postby leopardspotter » Sat Apr 08, 2006 4:05 pm

They are so small and colourful, seen them a few times at Sunset dam and river crossing at Shingwedzi.
I normally see them in pairs during August-December. :)

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Unread postby Nico » Sun Apr 09, 2006 10:55 am

Shingwedzi river near Shingwedzi camp. :shock:

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Unread postby wildtuinman » Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:53 am

Best place to photograph this beauty is Lake Panic hide.
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Unread postby peterpiper » Sun Apr 23, 2006 6:51 pm

Thanks cybeR@NGER for some great bird threads

Just had to share this pic seeing as though I use it now as my avatar. I photoraphed this little guy after hours of fussing, building hides. sitting cramped and much waiting. Such is the pull of this beautiful lttle gem that sometimes only allows a distant view of it's glittering colours.

Image

Image
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arks
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Unread postby arks » Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:51 pm

Saw this one on the Shingwedzi low level bridge on 27 April 2006. There was a malachite there (likely the same one?) each time I crossed that bridge over a few days.

Image

Love the concentration!! This bird couldn't have cared less that I was there 8) Pic was taken at full 300mm zoom, but I was still quite close to the bird :wink:
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Unread postby katydownunder » Sat Feb 10, 2007 10:46 pm

Arks you are right ,the bridge near Shingwedzi is a fantastic spot to see Malachite (lovely pic) . We saw one there as well for a few days in a row (November 2006).

Image ; Image

And Lake Panic is a great place as well (also November 2006).
Here we found this little fellow. Right beside the bird hide.

Image ; Image
Last edited by katydownunder on Sun Feb 11, 2007 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby Impisi08 » Fri Feb 23, 2007 11:24 pm

Great pictures Bucky and Kathydownunder.

Found this one on the S 44:

Image

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Elsa
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Unread postby Elsa » Mon Mar 12, 2007 3:14 pm

This little beauty seen at the Biyamiti Weir last month.

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Unread postby Candy's Style » Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:44 pm

Does anyone have a picture of them lifting up their crest? I only have this picture but my dad is convinced that the wind blew the feathers and that they are unable to lift their 'crest' :roll:

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Neil Crawford
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Unread postby Neil Crawford » Sat Mar 15, 2008 12:15 am

I think you're correct Candy, and your dad's wrong!
(and lovely photos too)
We were talking about this and we think the crown might be why they're called Kingfishers?
In any case heres one from the rondevlei hide at Wilderness,
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2008/233 ... e03b_m.jpg
Image

I'm afraid there must have been something in the way, its a bit foggy around the eye, but it does show the crown well, and there was absolutely no wind in amongst the reeds.
/Neil

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Unread postby Candy's Style » Sun Mar 16, 2008 9:23 am

Thanx Neil :D

My dad believes me now :lol:
I did a little research on why they are called Kingfishers but I only found this:

Wikipedia wrote:The etymology of kingfisher is obscure; the term comes from king's fisher, but why that name was applied is not known.

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Elsa
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Unread postby Elsa » Mon Mar 17, 2008 1:38 pm

My Roberts V11 talks about the crest raising and lowering in the mating ritual, or occasionally when sitting on a perch looking for prey and when being handled.
So well documented. :D
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Unread postby Laine » Thu Mar 20, 2008 9:09 am

Seen at Biyamithi Weir...

Image


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