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Grey-headed kingfisher

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Grey-headed kingfisher
Flickr - Rainbirder - Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala), crop.jpg
Calls recorded in the Samburu
National Reserve
, Kenya
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Alcedinidae
Subfamily: Halcyoninae
Genus: Halcyon
Species:
H. leucocephala
Binomial name
Halcyon leucocephala

The grey-headed kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala) is a species of kingfisher that has a wide distribution from the Cape Verde Islands off the north-west coast of Africa to Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia, east to Ethiopia, Somalia and southern Arabia and south to South Africa.

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Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Kingfishers are a family, the Alcedinidae, of small to medium-sized, brightly colored birds in the order Coraciiformes. They have a cosmopolitan distribution, with most species found in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Oceania, but also can be seen in Europe. They can be found in deep forests near calm ponds and small rivers. The family contains 114 species and is divided into three subfamilies and 19 genera. All kingfishers have large heads, long, sharp, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. Most species have bright plumage with only small differences between the sexes. Most species are tropical in distribution, and a slight majority are found only in forests.

Africa

Africa

Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.4 billion people as of 2021, it accounts for about 18% of the world's human population. Africa's population is the youngest amongst all the continents; the median age in 2012 was 19.7, when the worldwide median age was 30.4. Despite a wide range of natural resources, Africa is the least wealthy continent per capita and second-least wealthy by total wealth, behind Oceania. Scholars have attributed this to different factors including geography, climate, tribalism, colonialism, the Cold War, neocolonialism, lack of democracy, and corruption. Despite this low concentration of wealth, recent economic expansion and the large and young population make Africa an important economic market in the broader global context.

Mauritania

Mauritania

Mauritania, officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is a sovereign country in Northwest Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Western Sahara to the north and northwest, Algeria to the northeast, Mali to the east and southeast, and Senegal to the southwest. Mauritania is the eleventh largest country in Africa, and 90 percent of its territory is situated in the Sahara. Most of its population of 4.4 million lives in the temperate south of the country, with roughly one third concentrated in the capital and largest city, Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast.

Senegal

Senegal

Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country in West Africa. Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest. Senegal nearly surrounds the Gambia, a country occupying a narrow sliver of land along the banks of the Gambia River, which separates Senegal's southern region of Casamance from the rest of the country. Senegal also shares a maritime border with Cape Verde. The climate is typically Sahelian, though there is a rainy season. Senegal's economic and political capital is Dakar.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia

Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the northeast, Somalia to the east and northeast, Kenya to the south, South Sudan to the west, and Sudan to the northwest. Ethiopia has a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometres. As of 2022, it is home to around 113.5 million inhabitants, making it the 12th-most populous country in the world and the 2nd-most populous in Africa after Nigeria. The national capital and largest city, Addis Ababa, lies several kilometres west of the East African Rift that splits the country into the African and Somali tectonic plates.

Somalia

Somalia

Somalia, officially the Federal Republic of Somalia, is a country in the Horn of Africa. The country is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Kenya to the southwest. Somalia has the longest coastline on Africa's mainland. Its terrain consists mainly of plateaus, plains, and highlands. Hot conditions prevail year-round, with periodic monsoon winds and irregular rainfall. Somalia has an estimated population of around 17.1 million, of which over 2 million live in the capital and largest city Mogadishu, and has been described as Africa's most culturally homogeneous country. Around 85% of its residents are ethnic Somalis, who have historically inhabited the country's north. Ethnic minorities are largely concentrated in the south. The official languages of Somalia are Somali and Arabic. Most people in the country are Muslims, the majority of them Sunni.

South Africa

South Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline that stretch along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini. It also completely enclaves the country Lesotho. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World, and the second-most populous country located entirely south of the equator, after Tanzania. South Africa is a biodiversity hotspot, with unique biomes, plant and animal life. With over 60 million people, the country is the world's 24th-most populous nation and covers an area of 1,221,037 square kilometres. South Africa has three capital cities, with the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government based in Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and Cape Town respectively. The largest city is Johannesburg.

Taxonomy

The first formal description of the grey-headed kingfisher was by the German zoologist Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller in 1776. He coined the binomial name Alcedo leucocephala.[2][3] The current genus Halcyon was introduced by the English naturalist and artist William John Swainson in 1821.[4] The name of the genus is from the classical Greek alkuōn, a mythical bird, generally associated with the kingfisher. The specific epithet leucocephala is from the classical Greek leukos meaning "white" and -kephalos for "-headed".[5]

Five subspecies are recognised:[6]

  • H. l. acteon (Lesson, R, 1830)Cape Verde Islands
  • H. l. leucocephala (Statius Müller, PL, 1776) – Senegal and Gambia to northwest Somalia, north Tanzania and north DR Congo
  • H. l. semicaerulea (Gmelin, JF, 1788) – south Arabian Peninsula
  • H. l. hyacinthina Reichenow, 1900 – southeast Somalia to Tanzania
  • H. l. pallidiventris Cabanis, 1880 – south DR Congo to northwest Tanzania and south to north South Africa

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Species description

Species description

A species description is a formal description of a newly discovered species, usually in the form of a scientific paper. Its purpose is to give a clear description of a new species of organism and explain how it differs from species that have been described previously or are related. The species description often contains photographs or other illustrations of the type material and states in which museums it has been deposited. The publication in which the species is described gives the new species a formal scientific name. Some 1.9 million species have been identified and described, out of some 8.7 million that may actually exist. Millions more have become extinct throughout the existence of life on Earth.

Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller

Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller

Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller was a German zoologist.

Genus

Genus

Genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms as well as viruses. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.E.g. Panthera leo (lion) and Panthera onca (jaguar) are two species within the genus Panthera. Panthera is a genus within the family Felidae.

William John Swainson

William John Swainson

William John Swainson FLS, FRS, was an English ornithologist, malacologist, conchologist, entomologist and artist.

Subspecies

Subspecies

In biological classification, subspecies is a rank below species, used for populations that live in different areas and vary in size, shape, or other physical characteristics (morphology), but that can successfully interbreed. Not all species have subspecies, but for those that do there must be at least two. Subspecies is abbreviated subsp. or ssp. and the singular and plural forms are the same.

René Lesson

René Lesson

René-Primevère Lesson was a French surgeon, naturalist, ornithologist, and herpetologist.

Johann Friedrich Gmelin

Johann Friedrich Gmelin

Johann Friedrich Gmelin was a German naturalist, botanist, entomologist, herpetologist, and malacologist.

Anton Reichenow

Anton Reichenow

Anton Reichenow was a German ornithologist and herpetologist.

Jean Cabanis

Jean Cabanis

Jean Louis Cabanis was a German ornithologist.

Description

The sexes are similar. The adult of the nominate race H. l. leucocephala has a pale grey head, black mantle and back, bright blue rump, wings and tail, and chestnut underparts. Subspecies H. l. pallidiventris has a darker grey head and paler chestnut underparts but is otherwise similar. The beak is long, red and sharp. This bird grows to an average length of 21 cm (8.3 in). The song is a succession of notes, ascending, descending and then ascending again, becoming increasingly strident. The warning call is a series of sharp notes, "tchk, tchk, tchk, tchk".[7]

Distribution and habitat

The grey-headed kingfisher is found in tropical and semi-tropical Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Its range includes Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.[1] Its typical habitat is woodland, scrub and cultivated areas, up to altitudes of about 2,200 m (7,200 ft).[7]

Ecology

A dry-country kingfisher of scrub and woodland, solitary or in pairs, often found near water, but unlike most kingfishers is not aquatic. Perches on a branch, unmoving for long periods while watching the ground for signs of insects or small lizards, bobbing head before diving on prey. In appearance very like the brown-hooded kingfisher but with a red rather than red and black bill and similar to the woodland kingfisher, but the woodland kingfisher lacks the chestnut belly and has greater coverage of cyan feathers on the back. Nests in holes in steep riverbanks and is aggressively protective of its nest by repeated dive-bombing of foraging monitor lizards. It is parasitised by the greater honeyguide. This species migrates at night and is often killed by flying into obstacles such as buildings, towers and powerlines.[8]

Grey-headed kingfisher, in Akagera National Park, Rwanda
Grey-headed kingfisher, in Akagera National Park, Rwanda
Two eggs of Halcyon leucocephala
Two eggs of Halcyon leucocephala

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Brown-hooded kingfisher

Brown-hooded kingfisher

The brown-hooded kingfisher is a species of bird in the subfamily Halcyoninae, the tree kingfishers. It has a brown head and blackish and turquoise wings. It is found in Sub-Saharan Africa, living in woodland, scrubland, forest edges, and also suburban areas. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed it as being of least concern.

Woodland kingfisher

Woodland kingfisher

The woodland kingfisher is a tree kingfisher that is widely distributed in Africa south of the Sahara.

Monitor lizard

Monitor lizard

Monitor lizards are lizards in the genus Varanus, the only extant genus in the family Varanidae. They are native to Africa, Asia, and Oceania, and one species is also found in the Americas as an invasive species. About 80 species are recognized.

Greater honeyguide

Greater honeyguide

The greater honeyguide is a bird in the family Indicatoridae, paleotropical near passerine birds related to the woodpeckers. Its English and scientific names refer to its habit of guiding people to bee colonies. Claims that it also guides non-human animals are disputed.

Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park is a protected area in eastern Rwanda covering 1,122 km2 (433 sq mi) along the international border with Tanzania. It was founded in 1934 and includes savannah, montane and swamp habitats. The park is named for the Kagera River which flows along its eastern boundary feeding into Lake Ihema and several smaller lakes. The complex system of lakes and linking papyrus swamps makes up over a third of the park, which is the largest protected wetland in Eastern-Central Africa.

Rwanda

Rwanda

Rwanda, officially the Republic of Rwanda, is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley of Central Africa, where the African Great Lakes region and Southeast Africa converge. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is highly elevated, giving it the soubriquet "land of a thousand hills", with its geography dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the southeast, with numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year. Rwanda has a population of over 12.6 million living on 26,338 km2 (10,169 sq mi) of land, and is the most densely populated mainland African country; among countries larger than 10,000 km2, it is the fifth most densely populated country in the world. One million people live in the capital and largest city Kigali.

Source: "Grey-headed kingfisher", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey-headed_kingfisher.

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References
  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2016). "Halcyon leucocephala". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22683255A92980798. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22683255A92980798.en. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  2. ^ Statius Müller, Philipp Ludwig (1789) [1776]. Vollständiges Natursystem Supplements- und Register-Band (in German). Nürnberg: Gabriel Nicholaus Raspe. p. 94.
  3. ^ Peters, James Lee, ed. (1945). Check-list of Birds of the World. Vol. 5. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 197.
  4. ^ Swainson, William John (1821). Zoological illustrations. Vol. 1. London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy; and W. Wood. Plate 27 text.
  5. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 185, 223. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  6. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Rollers, ground rollers & kingfishers". World Bird List Version 7.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  7. ^ a b Terry Stevenson; John Fanshawe (2004). Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi. A&C Black. pp. 222–224. ISBN 978-0-7136-7347-0.
  8. ^ Woodall, P.F. "Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
Further reading
  • Cramp, Stanley, ed. (1985). "Halcyon leucocephala Grey-headed Kingfisher". Handbook of the birds of Europe the Middle East and North Africa. The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Volume IV: Terns to Woodpeckers. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 705–710. ISBN 0-19-857507-6.
  • Fry, C. Hilary; Fry, Kathie; Harris, Alan (1992). Kingfishers, Bee-eaters, and Rollers. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 149–152. ISBN 978-0-7136-8028-7.
External links

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