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the web of life in southern Africa

Halcyon senegaloides (Mangrove kingfisher)

Manglietvisvanger [Afrikaans]; uNongozolo [Zulu]; Mangrove-ijsvogel [Dutch]; Martin-chasseur des mangroves [French]; Mangroveliest [German]; Pica-peixe-dos-mangais [Portuguese];

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (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 > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Coraciiformes > Family: Dacelonidae

Halcyon senegaloides (Mangrove kingfisher)  

Mangrove kingfisher, Kenya. [photo Peet van Schalkwyk , see also scienceanimations.com]


Distribution and habitat

Occurs along the east coast of sub-Saharan Africa, from southern Somalia through Kenya and Tanzania to southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is uncommon in central and southern Mozambique, the coast of KwaZulu-Natal and adjacent Eastern Cape. In summer it generally prefers the banks of forested rivers, streams and estuaries along or near the coast, while in winter it mainly stays in mangroves and nearby woodland.

Distribution of Mangrove kingfisher in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( 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

It is thought to at least be a partial migrant in South Africa, breeding in the Eastern Cape from August-June, after which it heads to KwaZulu-Natal for the non-breeding season.


Mainly eats insects, other invertebrates and fish, doing most of its foraging from a tree perch, descending to the ground or water to catch prey before returning to its perch to feed. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous and territorial, nesting solitarily in a hole in a tree or riverbank (rarely), or alternatively using the old nest of a woodpecker or barbet.
  • Egg-laying season is from October-January in the Eastern Cape.
  • It lays three eggs, which are probably incubated solely by the female, who is fed by the male at the nest.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, but nothing else is known about their development and care.


Vulnerable in South Africa, partly due its small, isolated breeding population in the Eastern Cape, which is threatened by habitat destruction.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.