Woodland Kingfisher

It has loud and distinct high-pitched call “tuuui,” succeeded by a halt and then a descending “trrrrrrrrrrrr.” Moreover, the small and colorful bird is quickly recognized through is bright blue back feathers, wings, and tails, accented by its black shoulders and white underpart. Despite its name, it is part of the non-fishing kingfisher group and mainly prefers to hunt other creatures as its prey.

Read further to know more about the Woodland Kingfisher.

What is a Woodland Kingfisher?

The Woodland Kingfisher (Halcyon senegalensis) is an intra-African migrant bird belonging to the tree kingfisher family. They arrive in Souther Africa from September to December to breed, then moves to Central Africa around March to April.

Woodland Kingfishers are quite agile hunters, whose diet focus mainly on insects, but may also munch down small vertebrates, such as snakes, fish, and even other birds. They are fast, direct, and are aggressively territorial, ready to attacks intruders, even humans.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order:          Coraciiformes

Family: Alcedinidae

Genus: Halcyon

Species: H. senegalensis

Woodland Kingfisher Physical Description

The Woodland Kingfisher is a medium-sized kingfisher, growing 7.9 to 9.4 inches or 20 to 24 centimeters and weighing around 54 to 81 grams.

Mature birds have bright blue back feathers, wings, and tail. Its shoulder is accented by striking black color, while its underpart, neck, and head sport bright white plumage. Their large bills have a black lower mandible and a red upper mandible. They are often confused with the similarly-colored Mangrove Kingfisher, but the difference is that their bills are all red.

The Woodland Kingfishers’ lores, or the area between the eye and bill on the side of their head, are dark, producing a dark loral stripe through their eyes. Their primary, upper arm feathers, and underwings are black with white tectrix. On the other hand, the inner region of the flight feathers and breast are white.

Females and males look similar. Their juveniles or immature birds have duller plumage than adults and are have murky-brown bills.

Where can they be spotted?

The Woodland Kingfisher spreads throughout in the tropical regions south of Sahara and starting from Pretoria going northwards. They typically reside and thrive within 8 degrees of the equator, though, there are populations in the north and south that migrates to the equatorial zone during the dry, arid season.

While they come from the kingfisher family, they prefer drier areas and can be quite far from water sources. They love wooded habitats with abundant trees, specifically Acacias, even those near places inhabited by humans. These birds are often solitary but may appear in small groups. 

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Woodland Kingfisher

 The Woodland Kingfisher commonly hunts from a perch, waiting and searching for prey. Once it sees a victim, it swoops down to catch the prey, grabbing it using their bills. They then go back to the perch, where they kill the creature and consume them. Some insects on their diet include crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, ants, scorpions, millipedes, and termites.

However, they are agile hunters, which can also feed on vertebrates, such as lizards, snakes, frogs, and even other birds, like the Bronze mannikin, White-eared barbets, Black-collared barbers, and the red-throated wryneck.

Woodland Kingfishers tend to nests to tree cavities, both in natural or those made by woodpeckers and barbets. They also thrive in nest boxes and holes found underneath the eaves of houses and buildings.

The egg-laying season usually starts in November and ends in March, but its peak happens from December to January. They often lay 2-4 bright, glossy white eggs, which they incubated for about two weeks. As the chicks are being cared for by the parents jointly, they grow quite fast and fledge in 3-4 weeks. However, they will rely on their parents for five more weeks before eventually dispersing.



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Woodland Kingfisher