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malachite kingfisher

Birds of Namibia

Introduction: Malachite kingfishers (Alcedo cristata) depend on a specifically aquatic habitat which could include well-vegetated, slow-flowing rivers and streams, and in particular those waterways that do not have an overhanging tree canopy. They are also found on dams, coastal lagoons, tidal estuaries, sheltered shorelines, mangrove swamps, irrigation canals and sewage ponds. Wooded banks with nearby thickets and reed and papyrus marshes are also a favourite.

Malachite kingfishers can be found singly or in pairs. If disturbed from their perch, they will fly fast and furious for a short distance low over the water before re-perching not more than 1m over the water on a feature such as a tree stump, wire, rock or vegetation.

Distribution: Northern Namibia including Epupa Falls and the Caprivi, Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls. In the south they are found in and around the Orange River and Fish River Canyon.

Diet: Malachite kingfishers will sit motionless so as not to alarm their prospective prey, staring into the water only turning to look in the other direction for food. They eat small fish, frogs, tadpoles, water beetles, dragonflies, beetles, grasshoppers, prawns and crabs and lizards.

Description: Small to medium-sized aquatic kingfishers with a bright dark blue plumage on the back and crown and white to orange below. Their bills are black or red. Alcedo is the Latin genus name for kingfisher and cristata the Latin word for crested.

Breeding: Small watercourses with steep banks are required for nesting purposes with between 3 and 6 eggs laid in the low water season of October to May. Incubation periods are around 14 to 16 days.

Size: 14cm. Weight: 17g.

Ai-Ais Resort

Fairly basic accommodation at the famous hot-springs near the southern end of the Fish River Canyon

Canyon Lodge

Probably the most popular lodge in the area. Friendly staff, interesting rooms and an emphasis on growing all local produce make for a wonderful stay

Canyon Roadhouse

The smaller sibling to the Canon Lodge & Village, this fun establishment boasts loads of character

Canyon Village

Supposedly laid out like an African village - this tends to be second choice to the Lodge but still offers good value

Fish River Lodge

On the opposite edge of the canyon to all the other lodges, Fish River Lodge offers a unique perspective, excellent service and stunning views


Campsite close to the main viewpoint over the Fish River Canyon

Namibia Tours