The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Giant Kingfisher

Afrikaans name: Reuse Visvanger

Giant Kingfisher

Giant Kingfisher

Photo © Steven Herbert

Ceryle maxima

The Giant Kingfisher is common in South Africa. It can be found over most of the country, other than the arid western regions. Any water habitat suits this species including seashores, estuaries, sewage ponds and freshwater rivers, dams and lakes.

It has a powerful bill which is designed to help it eat its favourite food of crabs. It also catches fish and has been recorded catch fish nearly 18 cm in length. Frogs are also on the menu.

The male and female are fairly similar in looks but there is an easy way to separate them. The male has the brown patch on its chest higher up than the female. It is said that his brown is a waistcoat and her brown is an apron.

The Giant Kingfisher doesn't mess around when it comes to breeding. It excavates a tunnel in a sandbank and these entrance tunnels can be between 1 and 8 metres long! Between 3 and 5 eggs are laid and are tended to by both parents.

References and further reading

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 124

Wildlife of the Cape Peninsula - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 2001 - Page: 55

The Coastal Guide of South Africa - Author: Jacana Media - Published: 2007 - Page: 98

The Birds of South Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Published: 1949 - Page: 161

Southern African Wildlife - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1989 - Page: 145

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Published: 1989 - Page: 31

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 2011 - Page: 256

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1993 - Page: 370

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 1993 - Page: 248

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1981 - Page: 283

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1985 - Page: 374

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1975 - Page: 270

Readers Digest Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southe - Author: Editor - Alan Duggan - Published: 1991 - Page: 411

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1984 - Page: 248

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 2000 - Page: 248

Newmans Garden Birds - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1991 - Page: 54

Ian Sinclairs Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Published: 1988 - Page: 176

Common Birds of the North Coast - Author: Bing Comrie - Published: 2005 - Page: 43

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Published: 1991 - Page: 122

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Published: 1987 - Page: 142

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Published: 1999 - Page: 46

Birds of the South Western Cape - Author: Joy Frandsen - Published: 0 - Page: 134

Birds of the Transkei - Author: C.D. Quickelberge - Published: 1989 - Page: 75

Birds of the Natal Drakensberg Park - Author: Robin Little and William Bainbridge - Published: 1992 - Page: 55

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Published: 1985 - Page: 126

Bird Atlas of Natal - Author: Digby Cyrus and Nigel Robson - Published: 1980 - Page: 159

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Published: 1987 - Page: 90

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1959 - Page: 98

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1975 - Page: 98

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Published: 1983 - Page: 172


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