Hunting with the pied kingfisher

These mottled black and white birds are thrilling to watch when they are hunting. A controlled hover far above the water’s surface leads to a dip of the beak until their bodies are almost vertical. Like that of a bullet, the pied kingfisher plunges with great speed into the water after a small splash, the kingfisher emerges again in no time. As everything goes with nature, their hunts are not always successful, but once they are, the pied kingfisher takes it prey to a perch to beat it until it is dead and then proceeds to swallow it. 

Golden hour is upon us at Shenton Safaris, that time of day when the sun is low, the light is warm and golden and the Luangwa Valley shines and glistens. 

We are sitting at Acacia shelf and a small black and white object dart across our line of sight. A pied kingfisher is flying low close to the surface of the river. It swoops up higher into the sky and then begins to hover. It has spotted its target. In one fell swoop, a splash emerges from the river but the kingfisher has not been successful on this occasion. 

Quick facts:

Size: 25-29 cm
Weight: 70-90 g
Habitat: Inland and coastal waters
Colour: Black and white. Females possess a black breast band and males possess two. 

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