Malachite Kingfisher

© Shem Compion


Malachite Kingfisher - Alcedo cristata


The Malachite Kingfisher is a small kingfisher around 13 cm in length. The underparts and face are rufous in colour, with the overall colour being a metallic bright blue. The malachite has a short crest on its head and there are white patches on the throat and the back of the neck. Legs are red.

Malachite Kingfisher Diet

Mostly small fish, but will eat aquatic insects and small crustaceans.

Malachite Kingfisher Breeding

The Malachite Kingfisher tunnels into a river bank, over water, where it lays 3 to 6 eggs that are incubated by both parents.

Malachite Kingfisher Behaviour

This Kingfisher hunts from a regular position, normally a low perch. Sitting on its perch it has a very upright stance, with its tail pointed downwards. It drops suddenly and submerges itself. On catching its prey, it will return to its perch to beat the prey until it is stunned or dead, before swallowing it head first. This kingfisher is secretive and unobtrusive. Normally the malachite kingfisher flies very low over the water, with very rapid wing beats.

Distribution and Habitat

The Malachite Kingfisher is found near slow-moving water or ponds with reeds and aquatic vegetation. It is found throughout South Africa.