Blog Archive: 2014

Birdorable Black-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher

Species profile: Black-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher

October 11th, 2014 in Kingfishers, New Birds 1 comment
Black-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher

This week, we’ve been celebrating the world’s kingfishers! There are about 90 species of kingfisher in the world. These darling birds are often colorful, and they can be found all around the world. Today we wrap up Kingfisher Week with a species profile of the impossibly cute Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher.

The Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher is known by several different names, including Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, simply Black-backed Kingfisher, Miniature Kingfisher, Malay Forest Kingfisher, and Three-toed Kingfisher. This darling bird is one of the most colorful species of kingfisher; it is also one of the smallest species of kingfisher, measuring just about 5 inches in length.

Black Backed Kingfisher
Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher by Jason Thompson (CC BY 2.0)

Black-backed Dwarf Kingfishers belong to the river kingfisher, or Alcedinidae, family. Their prey items include insects, frogs, and lizards. They rarely dine on fish. These diminutive kingfishers were considered to be bad omens by the Dusun tribe of Borneo. Like most kingfishers, Black-backed Dwarf Kingfishers nest in tunnels or burrows. A nest tunnel may be up to a meter long! A typical clutch size is 3 to 6 eggs and incubation, performed by both parents, lasts about 17 days. Both parents care for the growing chicks. Fledging occurs about 20 days after hatching.

Birdorable Common Kingfisher

Kingfisher Frequently Asked Questions

October 10th, 2014 in Kingfishers, Fun Facts 2 comments

This week, we’re celebrating the world’s kingfishers! There are about 90 species of kingfisher in the world. These darling birds are often colorful, and they can be found all around the world. Join us as we highlight kingfishers on the Birdorable blog this week! Today we're sharing some FAQs about kingfishers.

Are kookaburras and kingfishers related?
Kookaburras belong to the tree kingfisher, or Halcyonidae, family. Kookaburras tend to be large and heavy compared to other kingfisher species. While birds in the kingfisher family are found all around the world, kookaburras are found in Australia, New Guinea, and the Aru Islands of Indonesia. There are just four species of kookaburra (among a total of about 90 species of kingfisher): the Rufous-bellied Kookaburra; the Spangled Kookaburra; the Blue-winged Kookaburra; and the Laughing Kookaburra.

Why do kingfishers migrate?
Not all kingfishers migrate. In some species, like the Common Kingfisher, parts of the population remain resident all year, while other birds migrate. One reason fish-eating specialist birds leave cold climates as the seasons change is to keep being able to eat! When bodies of water freeze over, its hard to catch fish.

Why do kingfishers have long beaks?
All of the birds in the kingfisher family have long beaks. In all bird species, beak size and shape is influenced by the primary diet of the bird; in fish-eating kingfishers, like the Belted Kingfisher, the beak tends to be longer. Their wedge-shaped bill aids in splashless water entry when diving for prey fish. Kingfishers that find prey on the ground tend to have shorter, broader bills.

Female ringed kingfisherFemale Ringed Kingfisher by Tambako The Jaguar (CC BY-ND 2.0)

What is special about kingfisher eyes?
Kingfishers have extremely sharp vision. Kingfishers that hunt for prey in water have exceptional eyes. These birds have two areas of photoreceptor concentration in each eye, one used to find prey while the bird is above the water. The second area of concentration, or fovea, is used to focus on fish while the bird is underwater.

Where do kingfishers nest?
Kingfishers tend to nest in cavities. Many nest in holes dug into the ground, often by bodies of water like rivers and ditches. Other cavities used include tree cavities and old termite nests.

Do kingfishers sing?
The vocal stylings of kingfishers vary wildly. Some species of kingfisher are more vocal than others. The Common Kingfisher has no song, but it does vocalize during flight and when it is alarmed. The multi-part trill of the Woodland Kingfisher is alternatively referred to as a call or a song. Belted Kingfishers are easily recognized by their rattling call and are often heard before they are seen. Perhaps the most familiar kingfisher voice belongs to that of the Laughing Kookaburra. Their exotic-sounding call is often used in movies and television shows that are set in tropical locations.

Birdorable Sacred Kingfisher

Species profile: Sacred Kingfisher

October 9th, 2014 in Kingfishers, New Birds No comments
Sacred Kingfisher

This week, we’re celebrating the world’s kingfishers! There are about 90 species of kingfisher in the world. These darling birds are often colorful, and they can be found all around the world. Join us as we highlight kingfishers on the Birdorable blog this week! Today we're profiling the Sacred Kingfisher.

Added today, the Sacred Kingfisher is our newest Birdorable bird! The Sacred Kingfisher is a species of tree or wood kingfisher. This family, Halcyonidae, has the most species of all three types of kingfisher. The other two types are river kingfishers and water kingfishers.

Sacred KingfisherSacred Kingfisher by Grahame Bowland (CC BY 2.0)

These birds are relatively common throughout most of their range, and are considered one of the most well-known birds of New Zealand. The Sacred Kingfisher's call, "kee-kee-kee", is distinctive. Sacred Kingfishers are found in Australia, New Zealand (where they are known as kotare), and other nearby islands in the Pacific Ocean. They feed on a varity of prey items, usually foraged on land as opposed to in the water. Sacred Kingfishers eat insects, crustaceans, and small reptiles.

sacred kingfisher 3Sacred Kingfisher by Jim Bendon (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Sacred Kingfisher gets its name from a traditional Polynesian belief that the birds have the ability to control the ocean's waves. The scientific name for Sacred Kingfisher is Todiramphus sanctus, which means "sacred tody-bill".

Birdorable Stork-billed Kingfisher

Kingfisher Week Fun: Coloring Pages

October 8th, 2014 in Coloring Pages No comments

This week, we’re celebrating the world’s kingfishers! There are about 90 species of kingfisher in the world. These darling birds are often colorful, and they can be found all around the world. Join us as we highlight kingfishers on the Birdorable blog this week! Today we're sharing some fun kingfisher coloring pages!

Here is some hump-day fun for this mid-Kingfisher-week. Kingfishers are among the most colorful birds in the world. The Common Kingfisher, found across parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, is one of the most widespread kingfisher species. With its beautiful blue body plumage highlighted by rufous and white, it is known as the most colorful bird of Great Britain. The Belted Kingfisher is common across much of North America. Females of the species are more colorful; they sport a rufous breast band in addition to a mostly slate-blue body plumage. The Stork-billed Kingfisher, found in parts of Asia, has a lovely muted color palette that includes blue, brown, buff, and red.

kingfisher-coloring-preview

Direct links to the coloring pages:

Find more coloring pages for other species on our free coloring page downloads. And be sure to check out the color schemes for these and all of our birds by visiting the Meet the Birds section of our site.

Birdorable Common Kingfisher

Kingfisher Extremes

October 7th, 2014 in Fun Facts, Kingfishers 3 comments
Common Kingfisher

This week, we’re celebrating the world’s kingfishers! There are about 90 species of kingfisher in the world. These darling birds are often colorful, and they can be found all around the world. Join us as we highlight kingfishers on the Birdorable blog this week! Today we're sharing some fascinating extreme facts about kingfishers.

Smallest Kingfisher

Kingfishers can be tiny. The smallest species of kingfisher is the African Dwarf Kingfisher, which averages just 4 inches in length. This bird weighs only 9 grams (0.32 oz) and can be found across central Africa.

African Dwarf Kingfisher by John Gerrard KeulemansAfrican Dwarf Kingfisher by John Gerrard Keulemans

Largest Kingfisher

Kingfishers can also be big. The largest species of kingfisher is the appropriately named Giant Kingfisher, which averages 18 inches in length. This African bird weighs up to 425 grams.

Giant Kingfisher
Giant Kingfisher by puliarfanita (CC BY 2.0)

Oldest Kingfisher

Kingfishers live a long time. The longest-lived known wild Common Kingfisher was at least 21 years old. The longest-lived known wild Green Kingfisher was at least five years old. Both of these records are known through bird banding.

Largest Range

Kingfishers are widespread. The kingfisher species with the broadest ranges in terms of size are the Common Kingfisher and the Pied Kingfisher.

Ancient Kingfishers

The kingfisher family has been around a long time. The oldest known fossil from the kingfisher family is 2 million years old!

Longest Migration

Kingfishers can fly the distance. In 2011 a Common Kingfisher broke the known migration record for its species when it flew over 620 miles from Poland to the UK.

Endangered Species

Some kingfishers are in trouble. The two most endangered species of kingfisher are the Tuamotu Kingfisher (about 135 in the wild in 2009) and the Micronesian (or Guam) Kingfisher, which is extinct in the wild (about 124 in captivity in 2013).

Micronesian Kingfisher
Micronesian Kingfisher by ideonexus (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Birdorable White-throated Kingfisher

Species profile: White-throated Kingfisher

October 6th, 2014 in Kingfishers No comments

This week, we're celebrating the world's kingfishers! There are about 90 species of kingfisher in the world. These darling birds are often colorful, and they can be found all around the world. Join us as we highlight kingfishers on the Birdorable blog this week!

Today we highlight the beautiful White-throated Kingfisher. The White-throated Kingfisher is also known by the names White-breasted Kingfisher or Smyrna Kingfisher. The Latin name is Halcyon smyrnensis.

The range of the White-throated Kingfisher spreads across the Indian Subcontinent, and extends into Southeast Asia and China to the east, and across the Middle East and Turkey to the west. White-throated Kingfishers are found in a variety of habitats, including agricultural lands, deciduous forest, beaches, and suburban landscapes. They are found in elevations ranging from 0 to over 7500 feet.

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis perpulchra)White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis perpulchra) by Lip Kee Yap (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The song of the White-throated Kingfisher is described as a loud trill or whistle. Courtship involves display of the white patches on the male kingfisher's outstretched wing. He may also perform a spiral diving flight during pair bonding. To express her interest, the female bird will shake her partially outstretched wings.

White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensisWhite-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis by Ron Knight (CC BY 2.0)

White-throated Kingfishers nest in the banks of streams or other similar locations. The nesting pair will typically have 4-7 eggs; both parents will incubate the eggs and care for the growing chicks. Baby White-throated Kingfishers fledge at 26 or 27 days of age. White-throated Kingfishers are opportunistic carnivores. They dine on a variety of prey items, which may include locusts and grasshoppers, fish, small mammals, lizards, and even small birds.