African Pygmy Kingfisher

© Roger de la Harpe


African Pygmy Kingfisher (Ispidina picta)


The African pygmy kingfisher is around the same size as a sparrow and is the smallest South African kingfisher, around 12 cm. This kingfisher has a blue back, extending down to its tail, with rufous underparts. It has a dark blue crown and violet ear washes.

African Pygmy Kingfisher Diet

The African pygmy kingfisher is an insectivore, but will take small vertebrates to supplement its diet. The pygmy kingfisher is not one of the fishing kingfishers.

African Pygmy Kingfisher Breeding

The African pygmy kingfisher nests in burrows, often dug into river banks or termite hills. It lays 3 to 6 eggs that are incubated by both parents. The chicks are independent shortly after fledging at around 40 days after the eggs were laid.

African Pygmy Kingfisher Behaviour

This kingfisher hunts from a low perch, swooping down to hunt its prey on the ground. On catching its prey, it will return to its perch to beat the prey until it is stunned or dead, before consuming it. This kingfisher is secretive and unobtrusive.

Distribution and Habitat

The African pygmy kingfisher is an intra-African migrant and can be found in South Africa between September and March, the adults and juveniles migrate north in March. It spends the balance of the year in Central Africa. It can be found in woodlands, savannah and coastal forests. It is absent from the dryer areas of South Africa.