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Kingfishers: African Pygmy-Kingfisher

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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Jose
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Kingfishers: African Pygmy-Kingfisher

Unread postby Jose » Fri May 19, 2006 6:31 pm

African Pygmy-Kingfisher (Ispidina picta synonym: Ceyx pictus)

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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. :D
(Photo: November 2005, Limpopo)


Classification:
Order: Coraciformes
Family: Alcedinidae
Genus: Ispidina

Other names:
Afrikaans: Dwergvisvanger
French: Martin-pêcheur pygmée
German: Natalzwergfischer
Dutch: Afrikaanse dwergijsvogel
Portuguese: Pica-peixe-pigmeu

Distribution: 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.

Identification: 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.

Call: A high-pitched "cheep-cheep" flight note.

Habitat: Woodland, savanna and coastal forests. Although non-aquatic, it is generally found in close association with water.

Breeding: October to December. The nest is a tunnel in a sandy bank or in the wall of an Aardvark burrow. Clutch: 3-6 eggs.

Status: 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.

Conservation: Not globally threatened; 2006 IUCN Red List Category: Least Concern.

Some very nice photos of a pair with various types of prey.

naomi c
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African Pygmy Kingfisher

Unread postby naomi c » Wed May 24, 2006 1:47 pm

When we were staying at Sirheni we had beautifull sightings of both the Pygmy and the Malachilte Kingfisher. A must-visit camp for birding enthusiasts - we had the privilege of staying there twice. During our last visit, I never even left the camp!!

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deefstes
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Unread postby deefstes » Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:39 am

These buggers are terribly difficult to photograph as they rarely sit still and in the open. This one was very obliging though and allowed me enough time to get my camera and binoculars ready to snap off some shots through the bins.

Pictures were taken at Sanbonani near Hazyview this December after our trip through Kruger.

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Last edited by deefstes on Mon Jan 07, 2008 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Boulder
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Unread postby Boulder » Fri Jan 19, 2007 5:16 pm

a Very Long Shot and HEAVILY cropped so excuse the quality. Taken from the Shimuwini Bird Hide left into the bush 50 metres away!!! for such a BIG bird!!

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Re: Kingfishers: African Pygmy-Kingfisher

Unread postby wingman » Wed Sep 23, 2009 8:41 pm

Ive only ever seen one at BergnDal in the dry stream below hut 70

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Lizet Grobbelaar
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Re: Kingfishers: African Pygmy-Kingfisher

Unread postby Lizet Grobbelaar » Wed Dec 09, 2009 9:15 pm

This one came so close that I almost couldn't focus on it! Taken in Mozambique.
Image

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Robbie A
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Pygmy Kingfishers

Unread postby Robbie A » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:19 pm

I will be in the KNP from the 29th Dec to the 7th Jan and will be staying over at Mopani, Shingwedsi, Sirheni and Punda and will obviously be going up to Pafuri. I spend most of my time in the park photographing birds and this time will be no different. I am doing a Kingfisher calender next year and need some images of Pygmy Kingfishers.

Are there any tips as to where I can find these guys in particular?
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Re: Pygmy Kingfishers

Unread postby Robbie A » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:42 pm

I find it quite amazing that nobody can help.. that nobody knows where the critters hang out.. they are birds of habit frequenting the same areas many times over...
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flying cheetah
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Re: Pygmy Kingfishers

Unread postby flying cheetah » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:18 pm

I really would like to help but I never saw one myself so far :roll:
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oddesy
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Re: Pygmy Kingfishers

Unread postby oddesy » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:48 pm

RobbieA, i would like to know as well, wish I did :pray:
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Re: Pygmy Kingfishers

Unread postby Robbie A » Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:34 am

LOL.. Well then, I will have to find the elusive birdies and then share their lair.. (oops, I should of been a poet) :mrgreen: :mrgreen: ... or after reading the "Liars" thread, maybe not... hehe..
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Re: Pygmy Kingfishers

Unread postby Manovo-Gounda » Thu Dec 23, 2010 4:23 pm

Hi Robbie,

The African pygmy kingfisher is also on my bird-wishlist. Prime origins "Best Birding in Kruger" does not mention this species at all and the SanParks "complete checklist of birds of the Kruger Park" says "summer and uncommon" but does not give any hints where to find them. At least it seems you will be trying to find them in the right time of the year - I will also try to find them during my next Kruger trip in March.

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Re: Pygmy Kingfishers

Unread postby gmlsmit » Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:00 pm

We spotted two Pygmy Kingfishers at the low water bridge at Shingwedzi, February 2008, the Crocs were awaiting their meal in the company of the little Kings while the water flowed over the bridge. Enjoy your trip.
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Re: Pygmy Kingfishers

Unread postby michel367 » Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:40 pm

Hey Robbie.

They are on my wish-list too and I will be in that area the same time as you.
Be sure to display your yellow ribbon and maybe we will meet up and share a sighting of them. :lol:

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Re: Pygmy Kingfishers

Unread postby Dabchick » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:04 am

gmlsmit wrote:We spotted two Pygmy Kingfishers at the low water bridge at Shingwedzi, February 2008, the Crocs were awaiting their meal in the company of the little Kings while the water flowed over the bridge. Enjoy your trip.


A month ago I would have replied to this post and said that I thought pygmy's are "dryland" hunters, prefering to hunt insects and the like rather than fishing from a river / stream / pool. But at Lake Panic on 13 December 2010, I saw a brownhooded kingfisher (also supposedly a dryland hunter) fishing in the lake. They don't look nearly as elegant dripping-wet as pied and malachite kingfishers! :lol:

Seriously though, Robbie and michel367, if you find any pygmy's let us know, they've been on top of my wishlist for the past 10 years and I have yet to see one. There was a possible spotting at Gudzani dam (near Satara), but it was so far away that I could not be sure, so I decided that it was more likely to be a malachite.

I understand that near Albisini dam (outside the park, somewhere in Limpopo Province), is a fairly reliable place to find pygmy's, but, I've never been there myself so I can't verify this...


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