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Bird of the month: Malachite Kingfisher

My Magazine 2022/02
1 min
Another colourful member of Kingfisher's family of birds is Malachite Kingfisher. Known for well-recognized features, such as a large head, short body and legs, and long bill, this small but majestic bird will for sure stay in your memory if you are lucky enough to spot it while exploring the nature of The Gambia.

Alcedo cristata can be found almost all over The Gambia except the upper north areas. The biggest possibility to spot it is at the aquatic locations, such as pools, marshes, slow running rivers, lagoons, lakes. It mainly feeds on fish, but also shrimps and insects. 

The significant colours of Malachite Kingfisher are shining violet-blue upperparts, vivid orange underparts and coral red bill and feet. The size of the bird is only 13 cm, but no matter the size, the bird does not have shy characteristics. Juveniles up to 3 months old have a black bill and a less colourful appearance. They have more dark feathers on the ear-coverts and breasts. They both have blue feathers with black patterning on the forehead leading back. 

As well as the other members of the Kingfisher family, Malachite has a fast and direct flight, which is often used to dive for a daily catch from low perches. 

It is a common resident in The Gambia and partly migratory in some areas. 

Photo Credits: Mark Goddard

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