The Malachite Kingfisher (Alcedo cristata)

The flight of the Malachite Kingfisher is rapid, the short rounded wings whirring until they appear a mere blur. It usually flies low over water

Malachite Kingfisher in the Kruger Park

Malachite Kingfisher is a small bird, 13 cm in length. The general colour of the upper parts of the adult bird is bright metallic blue. The head has a short crest of black and blue feathers, which gives rise to the scientific name. The face, cheeks and underparts are rufous and there are white patches on the throat and rear neck sides.

The bill is black in young birds and reddish orange in adults; the legs are bright red. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are a duller version of the adult.


  • Mass: 80g
  • Length: 13cm

A common species found in reeds and rank vegetation near slow moving water or ponds. Malachite kingfishers are found throughout most of the southern African subregions like the Kruger National Park, other than the drier areas of the western Karoo and the Kalahari basin.

Their diet considte of Fish, frogs, aquatic insects, crabs and tadpoles.

Malachite Kingfisher has regular perches or stands from which it fishes. These are usually low over the water. It sits upright, its tail pointed downwards. It drops suddenly with a splash and usually returns at once with a struggling captive.

The Malachite Kingfisher breeds from August to November. The nest is a tunnel in a sandy bank, usually, though not always, over water. Both birds excavate. Most burrows incline upward before the nesting chamber is reached. The female lays between three and six white eggs, which are incubated for about 15 days. Their life expectancy is only 3 to 4 years

They are preyed on by jackals, big cats, owls and hawks. Snakes and other reptiles will sometimes raid their nests.

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