Giant Kingfisher scanning for prey
Caption: Giant Kingfisher perched on a branch watching for potential prey, Ruaha National Park, Tanzania.

Camera: Canon EOS 1D Mk II; Lens: Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L USM; Focal Length: 400mm; Shutter speed: 1/1250; Aperture: f/5.6; ISO: 400.

The Giant Kingfisher (Megaceryle maxima), the largest kingfisher in Africa, is found across most of the continent south of the Sahara Desert.

Like other kingfishers, the giant kingfisher is a fairly stocky bird with a short neck and straight, dagger-like bill. In size — about 45 cm long — it is not much smaller than a green-backed heron, with a similar shape and flight pattern.

Both male and female giant kingfishers sport a shaggy crest, while the male has a rufous breast band with black and white speckled underparts (as in photo above). In contrast, the female’s breast band is speckled and the belly rufous

The giant kingfisher feeds on fish, crabs and frogs, caught in the typical kingfisher way by a swift dive from a perch, from where it can usually be sighted scanning any nearby water for potential prey.

To find out more about this kingfisher and others found in the southern African region, see safari guide Roddy Smith’s article, Kingfishers of Southern Africa.

(Please Note: If you’re not reading this post on Scotch Macaskill’s Wildlife Photography Blog, then you’re not seeing the original version. Please go to Giant Kingfisher Scanning for Prey to read the original.)

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