Friday, June 19, 2009

Kingfishers of the World

Kingfishers are a group of brightly colored birds with short legs and tails, big heads, and long powerful beaks. They eat insects, small vertebrates, and fish and are almost always associated with water. They nest in burrows in the ground, in tree trunks, river banks, or termite mounds. The family has worldwide distribution with a total of approximately 86 species. Fifteen of these are recorded in the Greater Sundas. ("A Fieldguide to the Birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Bali", John MacKinnon and Karen Phillips, 1993).

"Halcyone, goddess of the winds, married Ceyx, King of Trachis. Soon after their marriage, Ceyx was drowned in a storm at sea. The grieving wife, having learnt of his death in a dream and overwhelmed with sorrow, jumped into the sea close to the spot where Ceyx's ship was wrecked.

The gods took pity on Halycone and restored Ceyx to life, at the same time changing both husband and wife into kingfishers so that they might live happily together, always close to the element of water. The gods also promised that when Halcyone and her descendants were hatching eggs in their nests, which were supposed to be made of fish bones floating on the tide, the winds would be stilled and the waters calmed.

It was said that the seven days prior to the shortest day of the year in December was the time to build their nests and the seven days afterwards to hatch the eggs."

Kingfishers nest in holes, but the nest is invariably lined with fish bones, which are discarded after fish is eaten.

excerpt from "Kingfishers of the World" by Les Knowles and Jim Nitchen, 1995.

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis

This species has the largest range of all the kingfisher family, being found throughout the Paleartic region to the Oriental region and eastwards far into the Pacific Islands. ("Kingfishers of the World", Les Knowles and Jim Nitchen, 1995)

Stork-billed Kingfisher Halcyon capensis

Frequently seen in open country and cultivated areas where it's slow deliberate flight is very noticeable. A very aggressive bird that will actively defend it's territory against other birds up to the size of a fish eagle. Although it always lives in pairs it invariably hunts in a solitary manner. ("Kingfishers of the World", Les Knowles and Jim Nitchen, 1995).

Collared Kingfisher Halcyon chloris

Widely distributed from the coast of Eritrea to as far east as Tonga and Samoa. There are a great many variations, approximately 50 subspecies, of Halcyon chloris throughout it's wide range. Variations in color, markings, size and voice give a rise to differences that requires much more information and research for these differences to be fully resolved. ("Kingfishers of the World", Les Knowles and Jim Nitchen, 1995).

Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting
Photograph by Karim Madoya aka sinoorita

A mainly lowland species up to 350m, favours small streams and rivers in evergreen forest areas but also sometimes seen in cultivated areas and forest clearings where there is dense marginal vegetation; seldom seen in coastal areas. It is very shy and secretive in it's habits and very difficult to locate. ("Kingfishers of the World", Les Knowles and Jim Nitchen, 1995).

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithacus
Photograph by Karim Madoya aka sinoorita

This is a kingfisher of mature evergreen and damp decidous woodland and is also to be found in estuarine mangrove areas. It's flight is very fast and direct along woodland waterways. ("Kingfishers of the World", Les Knowles and Jim Nitchen, 1995).

Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata
Photograph by Karim Madoya aka sinoorita

To be found along the fringes of wooded streams, in mangrove areas along the coast and in estuaries. Also seen in cultivated areas of paddy fields and grassland away from woodland, up to 1000m. It's flight is very powerful and direct. ("Kingfishers of the World", Les Knowles and Jim Nitchen, 1995).

Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda
Photographed by Choo Tse Chien

This kingfisher frequents forested streams and mangrove areas at the coast and has been recorded up to 2,000 metres. It is most difficult to observe as it sits in dense cover in the forest vegetation for long periods without movement. ("Kingfishers of the World", Les Knowles and Jim Nitchen, 1995).

Banded Kingfisher Lacedo pulchella
Photographed by Karim Madoya aka sinoorita

This species is exclusively a forest kingfisher rarely seen near water. Found sparsely distributed from the lowlands up to 1,500 metres in wet rain forests. It's activies has been described as 'woodpecker- like' by Harrison. ("Kingfishers of the World", Les Knowles and Jim Nitchen, 1995).

Rufous-collared Kingfisher Actenoides concretus
Photographed by Karim Madoya aka sinoorita

A kingfisher of the forests, its population is sparse and very local in lowland forest areas and overgrown rubber plantations where it is found up to 700 metres and up to 1,600 metres in Borneo. The lowland population is found near forest streams, but the population in higher areas is to be found away from the water. ("Kingfishers of the World", Les Knowles and Jim Nitchen, 1995).

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