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10 Fascinating Facts About Blue-Breasted Kingfisher

With its vibrant plumage and distinctive features, the Blue-breasted Kingfisher is a fascinating bird species. From its unique identification to its plumage changes, there is a lot to discover about this stunning bird.




The Blue-breasted Kingfisher is a medium-sized bird with a total length of about 23 28 centimeters. It has a broad, bright blue-colored breast that contrasts with its white belly.

The bird’s deep blue head and upperparts are offset by a striking red beak that is long and slightly curved downwards. Similar Species:

The Blue-breasted Kingfisher is often confused with other kingfisher species such as the African Pygmy Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, and Half-collared Kingfisher.

However, the Blue-breasted Kingfisher can be distinguished by its deeper blue color, larger size, and unique beak structure.


The Blue-breasted Kingfisher undergoes two plumage changes in its lifetime, known as molts. The Juvenile Plumage:

Hatchlings are born with a duller, brownish plumage which gradually changes as they mature.

The juvenile plumage is characterized by a stained blue color on its back, along with a rust-colored beak. The bird’s underparts are also marked with whitish streaks.

The Adult Plumage:

The Blue-breasted Kingfisher gets its unmistakable adult plumage after going through its first molt at around six months of age. This plumage is characterized by its deep blue color on its head, back, and wings, and its striking blue breast.

The bird’s beak also changes color, becoming bright red. The feathers on its underparts become pure white.


The two plumage changes experienced by the Blue-breasted Kingfisher are influenced by its molts. Pre-Basic Molt:

The pre-basic molt occurs in late summer and early fall, allowing the birds to replace their feathers before the onset of winter.

During this time, the juveniles replace their feathers, acquiring their distinctive adult plumage. Pre-Alternate Molt:

The pre-alternate molt occurs in late winter and early spring, just before the breeding season.

During this time, the birds shed their old feathers and replace them with new ones.


In conclusion, the Blue-breasted Kingfisher is a fascinating bird to learn about, from its distinctive features to its plumage changes over time. With this informative article, readers can now appreciate and understand this unique bird species.

Systematics History

The Blue-breasted Kingfisher belongs to the Halcyonidae family and the genus halcyon. It is a member of the “rufous-collared kingfisher complex,” a group of small kingfishers that appear to have evolved from a common ancestor.

Since its initial classification, there have been several changes to its systematic history.

Geographic Variation

The Blue-breasted Kingfisher exhibits geographic variation across its range. This variation in color and size of the bird’s plumage has led to the recognition of subspecies by taxonomists.


At present, four subspecies of Blue-breasted Kingfisher are recognized:

1. H.

m. malimbica is found in West Africa, from Guinea east to Cameroon.

2. H.

m. pallidiventris is found in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

3. H.

m. orientalis is found in East Africa, from Ethiopia south to Tanzania.

4. H.

m. saturatior is found in southern Africa, from Angola and Zambia to South Africa and Swaziland.

Related Species

The Blue-breasted Kingfisher is closely related to several other kingfisher species in the halcyonidae family, including the Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Striped Kingfisher, and Grey-headed Kingfisher. These birds share similar physical characteristics, including a long, curved beak used for catching fish and insects, and a brightly colored plumage.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The Blue-breasted Kingfisher has undergone significant distribution changes over the centuries. The bird is believed to have originally been resident in forested areas across its whole range, but extensive deforestation has led to the species becoming more restricted to woodland edges, savanna, and farmlands.

The changes to distribution can also be attributed to natural events like glaciation periods. During the last glacial period, which ended roughly 12,000 years ago, the bird’s range would have been heavily affected by glaciation cycles.

The bird was likely confined to equatorial regions with suitable habitats throughout the glacial period, with some populations possibly retreating to coastal plains. However, anthropogenic factors have had a more significant impact on the bird’s distribution.

The expansion of human settlement has led to habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation. As a result, the bird’s distribution has become highly fragmented, with small populations in isolated areas.

In some regions, conservation efforts have helped improve the bird’s population and expansion of its distribution. For example, in South Africa, the Blue-breasted Kingfisher’s population has expanded in recent years due to efforts to protect riverine forests and prevent the further fragmentation of habitat.


The Blue-breasted Kingfisher’s systematic history, geographic variation and subspecies, and historical changes to distribution are fascinating aspects of this bird’s biology. Studying these factors can help researches better understand the bird’s evolution, biogeography, and current conservation status.

As these birds continue to face challenges from habitat loss and fragmentation, understanding and protecting these kingfishers is essential for their survival.


The Blue-breasted Kingfisher is a bird species widespread across tropical Africa. It can be found in different habitats, including forest edges, savanna, and woodland areas.

Although the bird can tolerate some degree of habitat fragmentation, it is more likely to inhabit areas with large trees and water bodies, which provide it with ideal habitats for perching and hunting. The availability of water bodies is essential to the Blue-breasted Kingfisher’s survival.

It uses water bodies to hunt for fish, frogs, and other aquatic invertebrates. In general, the habitat requirements of the Blue-breasted Kingfisher are less stringent than those of many other kingfisher species.

Movements and Migration

The Blue-breasted Kingfisher is generally considered a non-migratory bird species, although it can undertake movements in response to changing weather patterns or resource availability. For instance, during dry spells, when water bodies dry up, the bird may move to other areas in search of water bodies that still harbor its prey.

In some areas of its range, such as Ethiopia, Blue-breasted kingfishers are believed to undergo seasonal movements. During the dry season, water levels in many rivers and lakes are low, and as such, the kingfishers are forced to move to rivers and lakes with more stable water levels.

Also, in areas where the breeding season coincides with the rainy season, the Blue-breasted kingfisher may move from drier habitats to more forested areas, which provide sufficient nest sites, prey, and other breeding resources needed to ensure successful breeding and rear its young.

The different patterns of movements and migration observed in the Blue-breasted Kingfisher can vary in intensity depending on the local climate, food, and breeding opportunities available.

However, these movements seem to be adaptive, allowing the birds to survive and reproduce in different climatic and ecological conditions, while avoiding interbreeding with other species.

Conservation Implications

Although the Blue-breasted Kingfisher is currently not considered a globally threatened species, habitat loss and fragmentation due to logging, agriculture, grazing, and urbanization are significant challenges facing the bird’s conservation. As a result, some localized populations have experienced declines, making it important to continue to study their movements and breeding patterns so that conservation interventions can be targeted and effective.

Maintaining the habitat quality, especially for water bodies, is essential in minimizing the movements of Blue-breasted Kingfishers. Conservation management should also prioritize effective techniques for protecting habitats and creating connectivity corridors, such as conservation of riverine forests and wetlands, to ensure that the birds can move between different habitats without significant barrier.


In general, the Blue-breasted Kingfisher is a fascinating bird species characterized by a broad range of habitat use and complex movement patterns. Maintaining habitat quality and connectivity corridors is critical in minimizing hostilities and ensuring the survival of Blue-breasted Kingfishers.

As a non-migratory bird species facing habitat loss and fragmentation, the bird requires targeted conservation interventions that help to preserve its population and its connections between different habitats.

Diet and Foraging


The Blue-breasted Kingfisher is a sit-and-wait predator, meaning that it patiently perches on a suitable branch, watching for any movement of its prey before swooping down to capture it. For effective hunting, the bird perches in an upright position with its head held high, ready to spot prey on the ground or in the water.


The Blue-breasted Kingfisher’s primary diet consists of small fish, crustaceans, and insects. It is known to dive into shallow water and snatch its prey in its beak before returning to its perch.

Insects also make up a significant proportion of the bird’s diet, with ants, bees, wasps, and dragonflies being commonly consumed. It also feeds on smaller birds and reptiles.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Blue-breasted Kingfisher has a remarkable ability to tolerate a wide range of temperatures. It is known to inhabit regions with harsh environmental conditions and can survive in areas with temperatures ranging from 4 to 44 degrees Celsius.

The bird accomplishes this by regulating its body temperature by releasing excess heat through its bill and wings. In times when there is scarce food supply, the Blue-breasted Kingfisher can decrease its metabolic rate and body temperature, allowing it to conserve energy until food becomes available again.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


The Blue-breasted Kingfisher is a vocal species with a wide variety of calls. Its vocalizations are essential in courtship, territorial behavior, and communication with other individuals.

Its vocal repertoire consists of two main calls: a high-pitched, descending whistle and a loud screeching trill. During courtship, the male Blue-breasted Kingfisher produces a series of high-pitched notes or a harsh, cackling call.

Both sexes also make harsh screeches and grating calls to warn off predators and defend their territory. The bird’s vocalizations can be heard throughout the year, although the variation in frequency and duration of the calls can vary during the breeding season.

The bird is known to call more frequently during the breeding season, especially in the early morning and late afternoon.


In summary, the Blue-breasted Kingfisher is a remarkable bird species with unique feeding and foraging habits, which have contributed to its successful adaptation to diverse habitats in Africa. Its ability to tolerate extreme temperatures and decrease metabolic rate during low food supply enhances its adaptability.

Additionally, its vocalization plays a significant role in communication, defense, and courtship. However, habitat degradation is a major threat faced by the Blue-breasted Kingfisher, and conservation measures should be implemented to prevent further degradation of its habitat.



The Blue-breasted Kingfisher is a fast and agile flier known for its sharp turns and quick dives. When on land, it hops around rather than walking or running.

Additionally, the bird is known to be a good swimmer, occasionally diving into the water to catch its prey.

Self Maintenance

The Blue-breasted Kingfisher spends time preening and bathing, using its beak to spread oil across the feathers. This oil helps to protect and waterproof the bird’s plumage.

Preening also helps to remove parasites and dirt from the feathers.

Agonistic Behavior

The Blue-breasted Kingfisher is territorial during the breeding season and will defend nesting sites from other birds. The bird is known to engage in aggressive behaviors such as chasing, biting, or vocalizing loudly to deter intruders.

If warning displays do not work, the bird may become further aggressive and engage in physical fights.

Sexual Behavior

The Blue-breasted Kingfisher is monogamous during the breeding season, with pairs forming before the onset of breeding. Courtship displays involve a male dragging his bill against the perch while simultaneously producing a whistling call.

The male also presents food to the female, sometimes carrying it in its bill to the female’s perch.


The Blue-breasted kingfisher typically breeds during the rainy season, when its habitat is more favorable. Pairs of Blue-breasted Kingfishers construct a nest in hollow branches, logs, or termite mounds.

The nest is typical constructed of soil, sticks, and other materials, and both sexes will take part in building and tending to the nest. The female typically lays between three to five eggs, which she incubates for approximately 18 to 20 days.

Once hatched, the chicks will stay within the nest for approximately 28 to 30 days, relying on both parents for food and protection.

Demography and Populations

Blue-breasted Kingfisher populations are generally considered stable, although there have been reports of population declines, mostly in specific regions.

Habitat loss and fragmentation are major threats facing the bird’s survival, and the bird also faces threats from hunting and trapping in some regions of its range.

In many regions, the Blue-breasted Kingfisher is considered a popular bird for birdwatching and observation. These activities provide opportunities for tourism, which can be harnessed to create economic development for local communities and foster awareness for the importance of the bird’s conservation.

Scientific research has an important role to play in monitoring the bird’s populations, breeding behaviors, and migration patterns to aid in identifying where conservation efforts should be focused. Additionally, policy interventions that protect the bird’s habitats and regulate hunting practices can help to maintain populations and minimize declines.


The Blue-breasted Kingfisher is a unique bird species with fascinating behaviors, including its locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behaviors, and sexual and breeding behaviors. Blue-breasted Kingfisher breeding patterns, demography and populations are also critical factors to understanding the bird’s place in ecosystem.

Despite its non-threatened status, habitat loss and fragmentation continue to pose significant challenges to the bird’s survival, and increased conservation efforts are necessary to protect the bird and its habitat. In conclusion, the Blue-breasted Kingfisher is a fascinating bird species that boasts unique behaviors, habitat use, and vocalizations.

Despite facing numerous threats, including habitat loss and fragmentation, hunting, and trapping, the bird remains resilient and adaptive to changing ecological conditions. The bird’s movements, breeding patterns, demographics, and populations are continuing subjects of scientific research and conservation interest.

It is crucial to prioritize and implement effective conservation measures to protect their habitat, whereby the conservation of their habitat will have positive spillover effects on other animal and plant species. Understanding Blue-breasted Kingfisher’s biological and ecological aspects not only provides insights into one of Africa’s most iconic bird species but also informs better management and conservation initiatives to protect them for future generations.

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