Recently I spent some time at a sea-side resort in the Eastern Cape. During one of our walks along the beach we were privileged to witness a Pied Kingfisher in action as it hunted for a meal.
The Kingfisher: Hovering while Hunting
It hovered over the shallows of the ocean, very close to the shore, trying to spy a fish to nab. As far as hovering birds go, the Pied Kingfisher is understood to be the world’s longest bird (in cm from beak to tail) and is capable of sustained hovering in still air. It’s reputed to hover more than any other Kingfisher species.
It was a joy to watch an expert hunter in action; it did a few mock-dives, but pulled out when it probably realised its prey was out of reach. After about three or four half-dives, it swooped down right into the water and came straight back out with quite a decent-sized fish (decent size in relation to the bird).
It then flew with its catch to a tree on the beach not very far from us. After scoping out the surroundings the Kingfisher gobbled down the fish, with us as an intrigued audience.
Click play to watch the video of the ‘Kingfisher and the Fish’.
Appearance and Location of a Kingfisher:
The Pied Kingfisher is located quite widely across the southern part of Africa, as well as the western regions of Asia. They are distinctively identified by their black and white plumage.
The males have a double band across the breast while females have a single one that seems ‘broken’ in the middle. This is commonly referred to as the ‘bra’ and is the usual identifying mark of the bird. Along with the Giant Kingfisher, it is the only species which does not have any blue plumage.
In the coastal regions ofSouthern Africait should not be mistaken with the Brown Hooded Kingfisher which is also found in the area. The main difference being that the Brown Hooded Kingfisher, strangely, actually only eats insects and not fish.
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