This is a medium-sized kingfisher, 20?23 cm in length. The adult has a bright blue back, wing panel and tail. Its head, neck and underparts are white, and its shoulders are black. The flight of the woodland kingfisher is rapid and direct. The large bill has a red upper mandible and black lower mandible. The legs are bright red. Some birds may have greyish heads, causing confusion with mangrove kingfisher. However, the lores are dark, creating a dark stripe through the eye (the stripe does not extend through the eye in mangrove kingfisher), and the underwing, primaries and secondaries are black with white underwing coverts (there is a black carpal patch on the white coverts in mangrove kingfisher). The inner webs of the base of the flight feathers are white, creating an indistinct white wingbar (white completely absent from wings in mangrove kingfisher). The breast is white (tends to be much greyer in mangrove kingfisher). The sexes are similar, but juveniles are duller than adults and have a brown bill.


Habitat and Distribution

The woodland kingfisher is widely distributed in tropical Africa south of the Sahara and from Pretoria northwards. This kingfisher is essentially resident within 8? of the equator, but northern and southern populations are migratory, moving into the equatorial zone in the dry season. It is a common species of a variety of wooded habitats with some trees, especially Acacias, including around human habitation. Although it is a `kingfisher`, it prefers drier habitats in more traditional woodland and can be far from water. It is often solitary but can occur in small groups.


Feeding

It hunts from an exposed perch, often on a dead branch of a tree, or perches quietly in semi-shade while seeking food.


Breeding

The nest is a tree hole excavated by a woodpecker or barbet. A single clutch of three round white eggs is typical. The woodland kingfisher is aggressively territorial, attacking intruders including humans. It has a striking display in which the wings are spread to show the white linings


Calls and Songs

The call of this noisy kingfisher is a loud trill sounding like a nail run down the teeth of a comb.