The giant kingfisher is the largest kingfisher found in Africa and is often found by rivers, streams, lakes, dams and even mountain streams. It feeds mainly on aquatic prey, such as fish, river crabs, amphibians and also small reptiles and insects. Small crabs are swallowed whole but larger ones are moved to the bill tip and hit on the perch with swinging movements; pincers and carapace are removed before the bird swallows the flesh. Like many kingfishers, it is a territorial bird and defends its territory.
These birds are monogamous and both male and female excavate their nest, which is located in a river bank, cliff or sandy quarry. It takes one week for the nest to be dug and the entrance is usually concealed behind overhanging vegetation.