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a medium-sized kingfisher, about 25 cm (9.8 in) long with a white with a black mask, a white supercilium and black breast bands. The crest is neat and the upperparts are barred in black. Several subspecies are recognized within the broad distribution. The nominate race is found in sub-Saharan Africa, extending into West Asia.
This kingfisher feeds mainly on fish, although it will take crustaceans and large aquatic insects such as dragonfly larvae. It usually hunts by hovering over the water to detect prey and diving vertically bill-first to capture fish. When not foraging, it has a straight rapid flight and have been observed flying at nearly 50 km/h.