The Brown-hooded Kingfisher is a woodland species that is also common in wooded urban areas. For a number of years one was more or less resident in our garden, perching in the branches of a tree close to the swimming pool. It would be so still that we often only noticed its presence when the sun highlighted its pale blue patches. For some reason we have not seen one here for some time, nonetheless, Brown-hooded Kingfishers (Bruinkopvisvanger) are commonly seen throughout sub-equatorial Africa.
The scientific name, Halcyon albiventris, is interesting for Halcyon is the Greek name of a mythical bird that was said to calm the seas and albiventris refers to the white underparts of the bird. It has a brown crown, which is darker in adult females than males, a red bill, and the male has a black back while that of the female and juveniles is brown. Note the brown colouring of the juvenile below.
We have noticed the Brown-hooded Kingfisher can often be seen perching patiently on a branch in the shade, from where it will swoop down on its prey. This one is overlooking a dry dam – clearly fishing is not on its mind! They follow a varied diet consisting of insects, spiders, small reptiles, amphibians, and rodents.
Despite their colouring, Brown-hooded Kingfishers are not all that conspicuous. I almost passed this one perched in an acacia tree above my head while I was walking through a wooded area.