Grey-headed Kingfishers

Also refer to the Grey-headed Kingfisher found on Vanuatu islands.

The Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala) has a wide distribution from the Cape Verde Islands off the north-west coast of Africa to Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia, east to Ethiopia, Somalia and southern Arabia and south to South Africa.

A dry-country kingfisher of scrub and woodland, solitary or in pairs, often found near water, but unlike most kingfishers is not aquatic. This species migrates at night and is often killed by flying into obstacles such as buildings, towers and powerlines.


In appearance very like the Woodland Kingfisher but with a red rather than red and black bill and similar to the Brown-hooded Kingfisher, but the Brown-hooded lacks the chestnut belly.

Nesting / Breeding

Nests in holes in steep riverbanks and is aggressively protective of its nest by repeated dive-bombing of foraging Monitor lizards. It is parasitised by the Greater Honeyguide.

Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala)

Diet / Feeding

Perches on branch, unmoving for long periods while watching the ground for signs of insects or small lizards, bobbing head before diving on prey.

Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala)
Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala)
Photo of author

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