Tag Archives: kingfishers

Common Kingfisher

Common Kingfisher

(Alcedo atthis)(adult bird with its prey)

Size(17-18cm): It is a small bird with the size same as that of a House Sparrow known to most of us.

Area: Almost all India except dry desert area of Rajasthan and heights of Jammu and Kashmir(especially Ladakh).

Habitat: It inhabits clear and slow flowing rivers and well vegetated streams.

My two words: Common Kingfisher is a small sparrow sized bird with blue upper parts and orange underparts distinctive; long bill which it uses to catch fish; short blue tail.

It can be seen roosting alone under heavy cover. Mostly solitary throughout the life. It eats almost 60-65% of its body weight. Highly territorial with a territory almost 1 km long.

If another kingfisher enters its territory than both display from their respective perches which might lead to their famous Bill Fights. In it both would hold each other’s bill and try to hold under water as long as possible to show their strength.

Mostly stays still over the stream of water and suddenly gives short and quick dives in the river to catch its meal. It lays glossy white eggs in its burrow like nest that it creates on a low vertical riverbank.The courtship is started by the male bird, chasing the female and calling simultaneously. The egg incubation is done by both the birds but during the night only the female incubates them. Egg hatching takes 18-20 days after which the young ones stay in the nest for about 20-30 days until they are good enough to go.

Little Blue Kingfisher(on a perch, waiting for prey)

The first few days of the juvenile are more dangerous than the rest of its life. During its first dives after leaving the nest the young ones may become waterlogged and drown causing their life to end.

It’s diet mainly consists of fish for which it patiently waits 1-2m above the water level on perch. Once caught the fish is beaten 3-5 times against the branch till its dead and then swallowed whole, head first.

~Arjun Basandrai

Pied Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

(Ceryle rudis)

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Size(28-30cm): It is a small water kingfisher with the size almost the same as that of the White Breasted Kingfisher.

Area: All India till 2100-2200m in Himalayas.

Habitat: Ponds, lakes, riversides and streams.

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My two words: It is a common Kingfisher of India which has a black and white plumage. They have a short black crest and the male has a double black band across the throat while the female has a single broken band. Upper parts are barred with black and the supercilium is white.

Unlike other Kingfishers, Pied Kingfishers are gregarious.

Their habit of hovering over lakes and other water bodies, in search of fish, and diving vertically upside-down ( bill first) makes them special. They usually hover over water and only dive when the prey is in striking range. They can eat their prey mid-flight without returning to perch which is required by other Kingfishers. This is also a special characteristic of Pied Kingfisher.

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(Female Pied Kingfisher ready to pounce on the prey-Hovering Shot)

Pied Kingfisher is a speedy Kingfisher with a straight flight when not searching for food.

The breeding season is roughly from late January till about April. They lay 3-5 eggs in their hole-like nest. Usually many Pied Kingfishers nest in the same neighborhood.

They mostly feed on fish but other small aquatic animals may be eaten sometimes.

They are always found in vicinity of water.

~Arjun Basandrai

White Throated Kingfisher

White Throated Kingfisher

(Halcyon smyrnensis)

(White Throated Kingfisher with a grasshopper)

Size(26-28cm): It is a small Tree Kingfisher.

Area: All India, south of Himalayas.

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Habitat: Cultivation, forests, ponds, lakes, rivers.

My two words: It is the most common Kingfisher of India. It is a brown bird with turquoise-blue wings and of course, a white breast. It has a white wing-patch which can be seen clearly during the flight. The legs and beak are red.

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Both the sexes are similar in appearance.

Solitary or in pairs. They are one such examples of species of Kingfishers which can survive away from water. Simply, they can live without fish.

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They are quite common in India. One can see them anywhere. In places where forest cover is less, they take to overhead wires and other open spaces. They sit high above the ground and wait for the prey to come in its hitting zone and then drop suddenly and usually come up victorious.

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They breed during Monsoons. Their nests are tunnels made out on mud walls. They usually lay 4-5 eggs which are white in colour. They take roughly a month to hatch. Fledging of chicks takes 2-3 weeks.

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Their range is increasing over time and are their Conservation Status according to IUCN is LC-Least Concern.

~Arjun Basandrai

Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Kingfishers are, as the name suggests, master fish-catchers but it is not necessary that all Kingfishers feed solely on fish and other aquatic animals, some like the White-breasted Kingfisher can also live without fish. All Kingfishers have a long head and a long and pointed bill. They are found almost all over the world. There are about 110 species of Kingfishers found across the world. Most Kingfishers are brightly colored and there is very little sexual dimorphism.

There are 3 types of Kingfishers:-

1. River Kingfishers

2. Water Kingfishers

3. Tree Kingfishers

In this section we are going to talk about 3 species of Kingfishers found in India:-

1. Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

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2. White Breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)

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3. Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)

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Common Kingfisher is a River Kingfisher, White Breasted Kingfisher is a Tree Kingfisher and Pied Kingfisher is a Water Kingfisher.