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Grey-headed Kingfisher | Halcyon leucocephala

The Grey-headed Kingfisher is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Dacelonidae bird family group which includes birds such as Dacelonid Kingfishers.

The description for the Grey-headed Kingfisher (Latin name Halcyon leucocephala) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Halcyon leucocephala can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 436 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 177. You will find a picture of the Grey-headed Kingfisher on page 193.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

This bird is known as Grey-hooded Kingfisher in the Roberts 6th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Grey-headed Kingfisher between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition

The Grey-headed Kingfisher is known in Afrikaans as Gryskopvisvanger.

The Grey-headed Kingfisher has a height of 22 cms and weighs around 45 gms. The head is coloured grey while the bill is coloured carmine. The Halcyon leucocephala has a white coloured throat, red legs and a black coloured back. The eyes are brown.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is grey

Eyes are brown

Bill is carmine

Legs are red

Throat is white

Back is black

Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground

The Halcyon leucocephala attacks its prey aerially and feeds on wing or takes the prey to a secluded venue where it is killed, torn into small pieces and eaten

This bird has a specially adapted bill which helps it hunt for fish, crabs, shrimp and other aquatic animals in the water.

This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten .

Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Grey-headed Kingfisher is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 3 to 4 eggs and they are coloured white.

The bird builds its nest above water as a means of protecting itself from predators and to be close to its main food source which includes fish, shrimp and frogs.

The bird builts its nest in a hole in the ground.

The Grey-headed Kingfisher is mainly found in light and densely wooded forests, where there are Mopane trees.

The Grey-headed Kingfisher is found in the Southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.

The bird is at home in riverine forests and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Grey-headed Kingfisher is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

It is also seen in flocks

The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition * edited by PAR Hockey, WRJ Dean and PG Ryan, published by "The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund."

copyright: Tony Roocroft +27-11-454-0105

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