Giant Kingfisher
(Megaceryle maxima)

Giant Kingfisher

General description

The Giant Kingfisher is the largest kingfisher in Africa. It has a large crest and finely spotted white on black upperparts.

The male has a chestnut breast band and otherwise white underparts with dark flank barring.

The female has a white-spotted black breast band and chestnut belly.

The call is a loud wak wak wak.

Name & classification

Scientific name:
Megaceryle maxima

Common names:
Giant Kingfisher (English)
Reusevisvanger (Afrikaans)

Megaceryle maximus

Roberts VII english name:
Giant Kingfisher

Roberts VII scientific name:
Megaceryle maximus

Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Further information



This large species feeds mainly on fish, but also crabs, prawns and frogs, caught in the typical kingfisher way by a dive from a perch. They will also eat aquatic invertebrates.

Fish and frogs and other large prey are vigorously beaten against a solid object until dead, whilst large crabs have their carapaces dismembered before swallowing. Smaller crabs are swallowed whole.

Breeding season is from August to January.

A long (1 to 3 metre) nesting tunnel is excavated in a vertical bank near water by both parents.

3 to 5 eggs are laid and incubated by both parents for 25 to 27 days.

The nestling period is about 37 days when mainly the female feeds the young.

Natural distribution:
Giant Kingfishers are resident breeders over most of the continent of Africa south of the Sahara Desert other than the arid southwest.

Anywhere that has a water body with fish and perches from which to hunt, including rocky marine pools.

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