Ispidina picta (African pygmy-kingfisher, Pygmy
Dwergvisvanger [Afrikaans]; iNhlunuyamanzi,
isiKhilothi, uZangozolo (these three terms also applied to Malachite
kingfisher), isiPhikeleli [Zulu]; Tshololwana (generic term for
kingfisher) [Tsonga]; Afrikaanse dwergijsvogel [Dutch]; Martin-pêcheur
pygmée [French]; Natalzwergfischer [German]; Pica-peixe-pigmeu
(animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia >
Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates) > Gnathostomata (jawed
vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class:
Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) >
Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota >
(reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria >
Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory
dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora >Aves (birds)
> Order: Coraciiformes > Family:
The African pygmy-kingfisher is widespread across sub-Saharan
Africa, partly due to its ability to live in a wide range of woodland types.
Unlike many other Alcedinid kingfishers, the African pygmy-kingfisher rarely
eats fish, but rather feeds mainly insects, occasionally small vertebrates. It
is an intra-African breeding migrant, arriving here in September-October. Soon
afterwards, it starts breeding, laying 3-6 eggs in a burrow dug into a sandbank.
The chicks stay in the nest for a 2-3 weeks, after which they rapidly develop
hunting skills, becoming fully independent soon after fledging. Then, the
juveniles and adults migrate back to other parts of Africa.
Distribution and habitat
Widespread across sub-Saharan Africa, absent only from
parts of East Africa and southern Africa. Within southern Africa it occurs in
the Caprivi Strip (Namibia), Botswana, Zimbabwe, central and southern Mozambique
and eastern South Africa. It generally prefers savanna, riverine forest, coastal bush,
plantations and gardens.
Distribution of African pygmy-kingfisher in southern Africa,
based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas
Animal Demography unit, University of
Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range
from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).
See here for the latest distribution
from the SABAP2.
Movements and migrations
Intra-African breeding migrant, arriving in southern Africa
in the period from
September-October. Once the breeding season is over (around March), the juveniles and adults migrate back to other
parts of Africa.
Unlike many other Alcedinid kingfishers it rarely eats
fish, but rather feeds mainly insects, occasionally supplemented with small vertebrates. It
usually hunts by sitting on a perch, trying to locate prey. Once it
locates something it
dives to the ground, picking up the prey item before returning
to its perch. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:
- It nests in burrows dug into an earthen banks, such as a erosion gullies,
stream banks, termite mounds, trenches and pits.
- Egg-laying season peaks from October-December.
- It lays 3-6 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for roughly 18 days
(recorded in captivity)
- The chicks stay in the nest for about 18 days (recorded in captivity),
after which they rapidly develop hunting skills, becoming fully independent
soon after fledging.
Not threatened, although deforestation is a serious concern
as it has damaged populations in KwaZulu-Natal.
Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts -
Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker
Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.