Brown-hooded kingfishers are fairly widespread in Africa, being found as far north as Somalia and as far south as the Cape in South Africa. Within the southern African region its distribution is limited to the wetter eastern half of the country and it is virtually absent from the arid west. It favours well wooded areas along streams, rivers or dams, where it spends a great deal of time just sitting quietly in the shade.

It is a medium sized kingfisher, with a length of about 24 cm.; a pretty bird, with a black back and wings, with a bright blue rump and greyish-blue tail; its forehead and crown are brown, its throat white and the remainder of the under parts light brown. The long bill is red with a darker tip; eyes are dark brown; legs and feet are red or orange. Sexes are similar in colouration and the females are slightly larger than the females.

The call of the Brown-hooded kingfisher is a weakly trilled “ki-ti-ti-ti”. It is a solitary bird and is usually found singly or in pairs.

The Brown-hooded kingfisher usually hunts from a perch and  feeds mainly on insects, chameleons, small snakes and rodents as well as fish.

The Brown-hooded kingfisher is monogamous and nests in a horizontal tunnel, up to 1.2 metres in length, which it excavates in a vertical sand bank. The female lays a clutch of between two and five white eggs that hatch after an incubation period of approximately 14 days.

The scientific binomial for the Brown-hooded kingfisher is Halcyon albiventris; Halcyon from the Greek name for a mythical bird, now associated with the kingfisher, that was able to calm the sea, particularly around the December solstice (thus the English term “halcyon days”), and albiventris from the Latin for “white below”. Thus the name describes a bird that calms the sea and has white under parts. Well, the white under parts is correct, but that’s it!

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