Giant kingfisher

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Giant kingfisher
Giant kingfisher (Megaceryle maxima) male.jpg
Male, Lake Naivasha, Kenya
Megaceryle maxima -Zimbabwe-8-2c.jpg
Female near Triangle, Zimbabwe
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Alcedinidae
Subfamily: Cerylinae
Genus: Megaceryle
Species: M. maxima
Binomial name
Megaceryle maxima
(Pallas, 1769)
Giant Kingfisher.png

The giant kingfisher (Megaceryle maxima) is the largest kingfisher in Africa, where it is a resident breeding bird over most of the continent south of the Sahara Desert other than the arid southwest.


There are two subspecies, M. m. maxima, found in open country, and M. m. gigantea in the rainforest. The forest race is darker, less spotted above, and more barred below than maxima, but the two forms intergrade along the forest edge zone.


Breeding is from August to January, 3–5 eggs being laid in a riverbank tunnel.


The giant kingfisher is 42–48 cm (16½-18⅞ inches) long, with a large crest and finely spotted white on black upperparts. The male has a chestnut breast band and otherwise white underparts with dark flank barring, and the female has a white-spotted black breast band and chestnut belly.


The call is a loud wak wak wak.


This large species feeds on crabs, fish, and frogs, caught in the typical kingfisher way by a dive from a perch.


  • C H Fry & Kathie Fry (2000). Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and Rollers. Illustrated by Alan Harris. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-04879-7. 

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