Colouring: Iris brown; bill deep red, tip blackish; legs and feet dark pinkish red; crown brown; upper back black or brown; lower back, rump, tail and wings blue; below buffy white, washed ochre on breast and flanks.
Voice: Repeated phrase of 3-5 sharp notes, falling in pitch, accented on first note, KI-ti-ti-ti, KI-ti-ti-ti; also a long series of even louder notes at the same pitch, ti-ti-ti-ti-ti-ti...; trilling in display.
Habitat: Thickets in woodland and denser savanna, forest edge, riverine and coastal bush, gardens and parks.
Distribution: Common in southern Africa, but absent from most of the highveld and all of the dry western parts and the Kalahari sandveld.
Habits: Solitary or in pairs; pairs display to each other with open wings, bobbing, pivoting and calling. Perches on branches, post or telephone wires, scanning ground below for prey; sometimes dives for fish but less expertly than aquatic kingfishers.
Food: Mainly insects; also lizards (including chameleons), crabs, small rodents, birds (warblers, waxbills, sunbirds), small snakes (up to 25cm long), scorpions.
Breeding season: Mainly September to December.
Incubation and fledging: Incubation: About 14 days. Nestling: Unrecorded; fed by both parents. Clutch: 2-5 white eggs.
Gordon Lindsay Maclean: Roberts’ Birds of Southern Africa, Sixth Edition. 1993.
Kenneth Newman: Newman’s Birds by Colour. 2000.