Kingfishers

 

Interesting to know that there are 3 main types of Kingfishers. The "river" Kingfisher [Alcedinidae],  the "tree" Kingfishers  [Halcyonidae], and  lastly what can be called the "water" Kingfisher [Cerylidae] All together there should be around  90 species of birds which we may classified as the Kingfisher. Under the general term given to Kingfisher then this is one type of bird with variants that can be found throughout the world.

After having mentioned the 3 main types, good to understand that the groupings are not so complex to grasp

For Kingfishers, the Alcedinidae family has two genera [Alcedo & Ceyx]. Members of this grouping are small birds around 15-20 cm in size, the smallest in Malaysia formerly known as the Oriental-Dwarf Kingfisher is only 12 cm.  The Alcedo Kingfishers are mainly piscivorous [feeding mainly on fish], residents in Asia and Africa. Common feature among them are blue upper parts, black and laterally flatten bill. Some the second toe reduced or absent.  Those of the Ceyx species have reddish upperparts and and feed mainly on fishes and small insects. Usually standing upright beside water logged spots waiting to plunge into the water for food. World wide 24 species and South East Asia 6 species

The 2nd group "water" Kingfishers are not found in Malaysia. The Cerylid kingfishers are American Kingfishers. These are all specialist fish-eating species. There are only 6 species and all in America.

,The 3rd and last group are the Halcyonidae. They are the "tree" kingfishers or "wood" kingfishers. Easy to know them as they are what we call the big Kingfishers with bodies around 27-40 cm long. Typical of Kingfishers, they seat upright on visible and exposed location. Very powerful flight and direct to destination. This group form the bulk of Kingfishers in numbers having about 60 species. Apparently this family originates from Indochina and the Malay Archipelago and then spread to many places in Asia and Australia, including the islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. World wide 61 species and South East Asia 9 species.

The smallest species of kingfisher is the African Dwarf Kingfisher which averages at 10.4 g and 10 cm (4 inches). The largest overall is the Giant Kingfisher at an average of 355 g (13.5 oz) and 45 cm (18 inches). The most familiar of all is the Laughing Kookaburra of Australia.

Common among Kingfishers are:- Kingfishers have very distinctive body profile. A large and long beak, usually black or red. Equally large head to keep up with the long, sharp, pointed beak but disproportional short legs and stubby tails. They  see well both in air and under water with specially fitted egg-shaped lens, able to focus in the two different environments. Most Kingfishers live near water which gives the wrong impression that they are waiting for fishes. As opposed to its name, most kingfisher feed on insect and lizards, Their favorite perch are along small streams and waterways. Giving the impression that they stay close to places where fishes are plentiful. Of course, there are Kingfisher that thrives on small fishes. Wood kingfishers eat reptiles, frogs, and insects while the river Kingfishers prefers only fishes. Kingfishers of all three families beat their prey to death, either by whipping it against a tree or by dropping it on a stone.

Oh, last point - Common Kingfisher is so named as they are most seen in America but rare in Malaysia.

World wide there 61 species of these large Kingfishers. Of which, 9 species should be available in South East Asia. Of these 9 species, 8 of them are seen in Malaysia

Regular size Tree/Forest Kingfishers

  1 Banded Kingfisher  
       
  2 Black-capped Kingfisher  
       
  3. Brown-winged Kingfisher.  
       
  4 Collared Kingfisher

 

 
       
  5 Ruddy Kingfisher

 

 
       
  6 Sacred Kingfisher  
       
  7 Stork-billed Kingfisher  
       
  8 White-throated Kingfisher  
       

Small size River Kingfishers

 

  d1- Common Kingfisher  
       
  d2- Blue-banded Kingfisher  
       
  d3- Blue-eared Kingfisher

 

 
       
  d4- Black-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher

 

 
       
  d5-Rufous-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher  
       

 

It is certainly interesting to understand the 2 main groups of Kingfishers that we have in this country. The distinctive way how  each species chooses the habitats that they hunt in. We had good details of the food that they take and then knowing the ecosystem in the area added more points about their food sources and hopefully eventually meeting up with them more often.

I am glad that I got quite a fair bit of that understanding and the pictures of the birds. Missing here are the Ruddy Kingfisher and the Black-backed Kingfisher. For these 2 birds, what I am having are inadequate for posting. Of course, for the Brown winged, it is a question of time that I make another trip to the Island to collect my pictures.

Return to Index Page