Kingfisher Bird Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

Kingfishers are medium-sized group of colored birds that belong to the order Coraciiformes. Many kingfisher species are found outside the United States but they do have a cosmopolitan distsribution. While both males and females have nearly the same plumage there is a slight difference though. They will feed on many small animals including fish. Kingfisher is an amazing and colorful birds, here we have more interesting kingfisher bird facts just for you.

Kingfisher Bird Facts

Anatomy

  • Kingfishers have compact bodies, short neck and powerful large bill. Most species have brilliant colors few of which are able to produce distinctive loud calls.
  • The African dwarf kingfisher (Ispidina lecontei) is the smallest kingfisher species with the weight is up to 10.4 g (0.37 oz). They measure 10 cm (3.9 in) in length.
  • The giant kingfisher (Megaceryle maxima) is the largest species with the length measuring up to 45 cm (18 in) and weighs about 355 g (12.5 oz).
  • While most species are recognized by several different colors, many kingfishers however share blue and green color.
  • Kingfishers have unusually long bills that are built to prey on fish. There are few species that have short broad bill which means they mainly prey off the ground.
  • They are thought to have remarkable sight so much so that kingfishers are capable of binocular vision.
  • Kingfishers have limited movement of their eyes within the socket. They must move their entire heads to see prey.

Distribution

  • Ringed kingfisher and green kingfisher occur in the southwestern United States while white-throated kingfishers and pied kingfisher are found in the southeastern Europe.
  • America hosts six species of kingfishers. Eight of the total kingfisher species breeds in Gambia (Africa).
  • The common kingfisher has got one of the widest distributions ranging from North Africa, Europe, and Asia to as far as Australasia.
  • Kofiau paradise kingfisher is limited to the island of Kofiau off New Guinea.
kingfisher bird facts
Kingfishers in Taiwan © htu/Flickr Select/Getty Images

Habitat of Kingfisher

  • Kingfishers are known to occupy most of the world’s temperate and tropical waters. They are not however found in polar regions, deserts or other drier places in the world.
  • They occur in many different habitats. Most kingfisher species are found rivers and lakes but there are some that breeds in the forested streams and forests.
  • Kingfishers typically avoid driest places but red-backed kingfisher is found in the desert of Australia. They do not live in the hot Sahara desert.
  • Their habitat also includes open woodlands, high mountains, and tropical coral atolls.
  • Some of the species have adapted to living in parks, towns, or even in agricultural areas but these are not their natural wild habitats.

Feeding Ecology & Diet of Kingfisher

  • Kingfishers are able to catch fish as well as ground creatures including small insects. The bird catches a fish, takes it to a perch then strikes it against the tree until the fish is dead.
  • They will feed on many different prey animals. Prominent among the prey species is the fish which is the essential item in the kingfishers’ diet.
  • Some of the species rely on small animal such as amphibians, worms, crustaceans, molluscs, centipedes, snakes, insects, spiders, annelid, small mammals and birds.
  • The individual kingfishers are thought to rely on few prey items. Forest and woodland kingfishers consume grasshoppers and other insects but fish makes up most of its diet.
  • The red-backed kingfisher will hammer into the fairy martin’s nest to search for its nestlings.

Behavior

  • They are highly territorial.
  • Kingfishers have descending calls like ‘yimp-trrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr’. Some species produce a ‘KIK-KIK-KIK-KIK’ call.

Reproductive Biology

  • Kingfishers are known to dig holes in the ground. They typically make holes on the sides of lakes and rivers.
  • They will also use cavities in trees or sometimes arboreal nests of termites.
  • The clutch size varies from species to species and it ranges from 2 – 10 eggs. The average size however is 3 – 6 eggs.
  • Both parents incubate the eggs. Young will remain with their mother for about 3 – 4 months.
  • The average lifespan of kingfisher is 5 – 7 years.

Kingfisher Bird Facts Video

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