Brown-Hooded Kingfisher @ Eastern Shores - iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Photo: Håvard Rosenlund

Brown-Hooded Kingfisher

Brown-Hooded Kingfisher - Halcyon albiventris - Distribution MapThe brown-hooded kingfisher (Halcyon albiventris) is a very common species of kingfisher in sub-equatorial Africa. It is part of the tree kingfisher family, which is a group of kingfishers that rarely actually fish and are not dependent on substantial water bodies. It is 20-22 cm (8 in) in size and weighs 50-75 g (0.1-02 lb). It differs from similar species with its brown to greyish-brown head and streaked flanks. It can sometimes be confused with the smaller striped kingfisher (Halcyon chelicuti). The striped kingfisher has a black and red bill, and not all red like the brown-hooded, as well as more prominent stripes on the belly.

Diet and habitat

Although it is present in most sub-equatorial countries, it is most common along the eastern side of the continent away from the driest and most barren habitats. It is a woodland species, but also common in urban areas with sufficient abundance of trees, gardens and parks. The brown-hooded kingfisher generally hunts from a perch and will often dive to catch its prey. It has a varied diet consisting of insects, spiders, small reptiles, amphibians, and smaller birds.


A breeding pair generally escavates a burrow in a gully. The burrow consists of a tunnel at about a meter long, ending in a chamber with a width of 25-30 cm (9-11 in). The female lays 2-5 (rarely 6) eggs in the burrow around the period September-December. The eggs are then incubated by the female for 14 days.


The brown-hooded kingfisher is very common within its range and there are no threats to the species. It is listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List.


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