The giant kingfisher, scientific name Megaceryle maxima is the most important kingfisher in Africa, the place it’s a resident breeding hen over most of the continent south of the Sahara Desert, apart from the arid southwest.
This article will give an overview of the Giant kingfisher trail, call, size, sound, South Africa, etc.
Giant kingfisher Distribution
Giant kingfisher species is a resident breeding bird in most of Africa south of the Sahara aside from the arid southwest.
In northern Namibia, it’s pretty frequent (together with the Caprivi Strip), and in addition in northern and jap Botswana, central and southern Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
Giant kingfisher frequents streams, rivers, lakes, dams, and in addition mountain streams with wooded areas on the margins, each in savannahs and forests.
Giant kingfisher additionally happens in coastal lagoons, estuaries, mangroves, and seashores, and typically close to stagnant swimming pools in dried-up rivers.
The Giant kingfisher is Africa’s largest species of kingfisher. It has a big crest and a giant straight black beak.
Most of its body is roofed with black feathers which can be tipped with white spots. A male has an orange breast and his stomach is white with some black spots.
A feminine’s breast is black and white noticed and the stomach is orange, and the distinction between them will be remembered by pondering of a male as carrying an orange shirt and a feminine carrying an orange skirt.
Giant kingfisher has a particular place in my coronary heart. Their loud, harsh ‘kakh kah kahk’ name brings again many unbelievable recollections of the African bush; from sundowners with my attractive spouse on the banks of the Kunene River in northern Namibia to epic canoe rides down the Umngazi River within the Jap Cape, to household 4×Four adventures within the coronary heart of the Tsavo East Nationwide Park in Kenya.
Giant kingfisher Habitat
It’s all the time discovered near water and infrequently greater than 100 meters away from the water’s edge.
Virtually any water body will be appropriate habitat so long as there are sufficient meals and overhanging branches.
Rivers, streams, lakes, dams, estuaries, and even seashores can all be appropriate habitats, each in open savannahs and in dense forests.
There are two subspecies, the nominate M. m. maxima, which is discovered in additional open habitats, and M. m. gigantea, which is present in dense rain forest habitats.
The rain forest subspecies are darker, much less noticed above, and with heavier black barrings on the underparts than the nominate maxima seen in these pictures.
Giant kingfisher Description
The Giant kingfisher is 42–46 cm (16.5–18 in) lengthy, with a big shaggy crest, a big black bill, and fantastic white spots on black upper parts.
The male has a chestnut breast band and in any other case white underparts with darkish flank barring.
The feminine has a white-spotted black breast band and a chestnut stomach. The forest race M. m. gigantea is darker, much less noticed above, and extra barred beneath than the nominate race, however, the two kinds intergrade alongside the forest edge zone.
The decision is a loud wak wak wak.
Giant kingfisher is monogamous. This means males will mate with just one feminine and females will mate with just one male.
They in all probability carry out aerial flights throughout the courtship, accompanied by calling, with some posturing by the male to indicate off his plumage sample, and feeding of the feminine.
The breeding season is from July to January, peaking in August to October. This species is a solitary nester.
Its nest is a tunnel dug out inside every week by each dad and mom utilizing their payments and toes.
A nest will likely be situated in a river financial institution, sand quarry, or cliff, with the doorway typically hidden behind overhanging vegetation, excessive above the water degree. 3-5 eggs are laid and each dad and mom incubate them for 25-27 days, taking turns 3-4 to occasions every day.
The male removes the eggshells from the nest as soon as the eggs have hatched. Chicks are fed a number of occasions every day with fish.
The daddy stops feeding them after a month, and the mom 5 days later. Younger fledge when they’re 37 days previous, and may dive inside a number of hours, however, their mom feeds them for 3 extra weeks.
Habits and Lifestyle
The Giant kingfisher is a diurnal hen and perches on a rock or department overhanging the water the place it scans for prey.
It can make a steep or shallow dive to then disappear underwater to catch its prey, earlier than returning shortly to its perch. It might additionally hover over open water, as many kingfisher species do.
It can swallow small crabs completely, however, a bigger one is moved to the tip of its bill so it may possibly hit it on its perch with swinging actions, to take away carapace and pincers earlier than swallowing the flesh. Fish are normally eaten head first.
After a profitable catch, the hen strikes a brand new perch. If fishing at sea, a kingfisher will clear its feathers in recent water.
Like many kingfishers, the Giant kingfisher is solitary and territorial and can defend its territory. Its primary residents inside its vary, traveling regionally in keeping with water ranges. Juveniles disperse after the breeding season.
In South, Africa breeding takes place between September and January, in Zimbabwe from August to March, in Zambia from March to April, and in Liberia from December to January.
The Giant kingfisher is monogamous and a solitary breeder. The nest is an extended horizontal tunnel that’s excavated right into a river financial institution by each sexes utilizing their toes and payments. The doorway gap is 11 cm (4.3 in) excessive and 15 cm (5.9 in) huge.
The tunnel is usually 2 m (6 ft 7 in) in size however a tunnel of 8.5 m (28 ft) has been recorded. A clutch of round three eggs is laid in a chamber on the finish of the tunnel.
This massive species feeds on crabs, fish, and frogs, caught by diving from a perch. The Giant kingfisher will predominantly feed on crabs and fish.
Amphibians, different crustaceans, small reptiles, and bugs are additionally included within the eating regimen.
It typically hunts by diving from a perched place into water or by hovering in mid-air earlier than diving. Upon diving, for prey, it typically will get absolutely submerged.
It can devour small crabs completely, however, it will take away carapace and pincers from bigger crabs earlier than consuming.
Fish are swallowed completely, head first. If diving in saltwater, it’ll clear its feather in freshwater afterward, if potential.
Giant kingfisher Nesting
The Giant kingfisher is territorial, monogamous, and a solitary breeder. Eggs are laid within the interval July-January, with peaks in August-October.
A breeding pair will excavate a tunnel and a nesting chamber in a vertical riverbank or a cliff by the water.
The tunnel can fluctuate in lengths between 0.9 to eight.45 m (35-332 in), and the chamber will likely be 20-60 cm (8-23.5 in) huge.
The entrance of the tunnel will typically hide behind overhanging vegetation. Three to 5 eggs are laid and incubated for 25-27 days by each dad and mom.
After hatching, chicks will likely be fed fish on a number of occasions a day. They keep within the nest for about 37 days, and can nonetheless be depending on their dad and mom one other 21 days.
The Giant kingfisher is sort of frequent in protected areas. Nevertheless, it might be threatened by pesticides leaking into the water from farmland, and lack of breeding grounds and habitat.
In keeping with IUCN, the Giant kingfisher is frequent and widespread all through its vary however no general inhabitants estimate is out there.
Presently this species is classed as Least Concern (LC), nonetheless, its numbers at this time are lowering.
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