Birds of the Gambia: Blue-breasted Kingfisher

Updated on Sep 23, 2019 by Kathryn Burrington

Blog > Birds of the Gambia: Blue-breasted Kingfisher

Find out more about this stunning bird, including where and when you can spot it.

Gambia Bird Guide

© Chris Packham


This is the first in a new series of posts featuring some of the amazing 560 plus species of birds found in The Gambia, a very popular destination for bird-watchers.

Over the coming months we’d like to develop this into a useful mini-guide and we welcome contributions to the series from our guests, as well as comments, so please do let us know if you have seen each bird and where you saw it.

The Blue-Breasted Kingfisher

Status: Locally common

The blue-breasted kingfisher (Halcyon malimbica) is a fairly large kingfisher (25cm high) with a distinctive blue breast from which it takes its name. You can also recognise it by its huge red and black bill.The sexes are fairly similar in appearance.

Its call, as described in ’Birds of The Gambia and Senegal’, is a "loud and far-carrying, undulating laughing trill: begins with a sharp ti or chiu succeeded by a series of mournful whistles chiu pu-pu-pu-pu ku ku ku ku. There is a raucous flight alarm call tchup tchup-tchup-tchup."

Where & When
It can be seen at any time of year in The Gambia, near water and especially in the mangroves of the River Gambia’s tributaries, usually hiding in the shade. The mangroves around Mandina Lodge, as well as Kotu creek would be a good bet.

It is omnivorous, mainly eating insects as well as arthropods, fish, frogs and palm oil kernels. Pairs breed in the late rainy season, nesting in termite mounds.

Have you seen this lovely bird in The Gambia? If so, we’d love to hear from you and see any photos or even videos that you might have. 

For information on our birding holidays in The Gambia, please visit our website.



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