African Pygmy-Kingfisher (Ispidina picta synonym: Ceyx pictus)
This little guy was catapulted into a plant pot after flying into the mosquito netting on a window. One wing looked a bit odd, so I picked it up to check. Everything felt alright and I put it back on top of the soil in the pot, where it sat just long enough to allow me to get my camera and take a few pics. Then it called me "cheep" and flew off as if nothing had happened.
(Photo: November 2005, Limpopo)
French: Martin-pêcheur pygmée
Dutch: Afrikaanse dwergijsvogel
Widely distributed in Africa S of 15° N. It tends to be associated with water so is mostly absent from Eastern Somalia and the South-West of the continent. It is also missing from some areas North of the Congo Basin.
This tiny (size 12-13 cm, weight± 15 g) brilliantly coloured bird is the smallest kingfisher in the region but its dazzling orange and bright blue plumage makes it a glorious sight.
It can be distinguished from the similar Malachite Kingfisher
by its smaller size, its uniform blue crown which does not extend down to the eye, and the violet wash around the ear coverts. The throat is white and the bill and legs are red.
Male and female are alike, and the juvenile resembles the adult but has a blackish bill.
The African Pygmy-Kingfisher is one of the kingfishers that do not fish. Its diet consists of terrestrial insects, arachnids and small vertebrates which are mostly captured after a dive onto dry land. It is usually solitary and prefers to perch fairly low in shady areas and, being not shy but unobtrusive, it can be difficult to spot.
The bird in the photo belongs to the most common race Ispidina picta picta
, which can be distinguished from the less common I. p. natalensis
by its lilac ear coverts.
A high-pitched "cheep-cheep" flight note.
Woodland, savanna and coastal forests. Although non-aquatic, it is generally found in close association with water.
October to December. The nest is a tunnel in a sandy bank or in the wall of an Aardvark burrow. Clutch: 3-6 eggs.
Common summer visitor. An intra-Africa migrant to Southern Africa from the tropics, it undertakes its long journeys after dark. Sadly, many of these gorgeous kingfishers are killed when flying into glass windows of buildings after dark. Southern populations are present in South Africa and Zimbabwe from October to April/May. After breeding they migrate North. Some may overwinter in coastal Mozambique, South Africa and scattered localities in Zimbabwe.
Not globally threatened; 2006 IUCN Red List Category: Least Concern.
Some very nice photos of a pair with various types of prey.