Woodland Kingfisher

Halcyon senegalensis

The Woodland Kingfisher is a bird of tall, open woodlands and savannas (as well as suburban gardens and parks), and despite a preference for wooded river courses does not follow an aquatic diet at all. Instead, they feed primarily on insects, especially grasshoppers, though they have been recorded taking small reptiles and chicks from Red-billed Quelea nests. Adults weigh between 55 and 80g and measure up to 24cm from the tip of the beak to the tip of the tail.

Woodland Kingfishers migrate to South Africa (North West Province, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and northern Kwazulu-Natal) to breed here in summer, arriving from September and departing again by end of April. They are mostly seen singly or in pairs. Pairs defend their territories aggressively against others of their kind as well as other species of birds and even humans. They nest in holes in trees, often taken over from woodpeckers and barbets. Clutches normally contain 2-4 eggs and are incubated by both parents for around two weeks. Although the chicks leave the nest at about 3 weeks old, the parents continue to care for the young for as long as 5 weeks after they’ve fledged.

The Woodland Kingfisher occurs over much of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east and south to South Africa, at least for parts of the year, while they are resident in Africa’s equatorial regions throughout the year. The IUCN lists it as least concern.

The call of the Woodland Kingfisher is an unmissable part of the summer soundtrack in many of our favourite wild places, which must be why I’ve set it as the ringtone on my phone…

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50 thoughts on “Woodland Kingfisher

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Wow Maurice, what a way to sneak in some good news! When are you coming, and where will you be visiting?

      I’m afraid all my literature only states that they migrate from “equatorial Africa”, Maurice, without giving specific locations.

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      1. iAMsafari

        We’re in the process of planning a visit in April – WA school holidays start when SA’s finishes. Itinerary is still open, although we’d like to plan some walking elements in it. A few years back our daughter Zuza was too young to participate in the treks offered in Imfolozi, but is old enough now to do something similar in Kruger maybe – your reports on the wilderness trails were tantalising!

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  1. John

    Very beautiful bird, and it reminds of ours kingfisher we have here in Sweden, but your is much bigger. Indeed they have a beautiful sound, I understand why you set it as your ringtone! 🙂

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  2. exploringcolour

    I keep on finding new kinds of kingfishers on different people’s blogs! We have a pretty one in New Zealand but I’m amazed there are so many different ones in various parts of the world. Perhaps this is the most beautiful I’ve seen … I love turquoise!

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