The most ancient of the three kingfisher lineages, River Kingfishers are vibrantly plumaged birds with crested heads, long stout bills, short legs and stubby tails. Read on and learn more about these fascinating birds.
River Kingfishers is any of various birds of the family Alcedinidae that are widespread through Africa, south and east Asia, as well as some places in Australia. One species, the Common Kingfisher is also present in Europe and northern Asia. This group is characterized by its colorful plumage, a crested head, a long stout bill, and short tail. Sit back, read on and learn more about these fascinating birds.
The Azure Kingfisher (Alcedo azurea) is a very colorful kingfisher widespread in Northern and Eastern Australia, Tasmania and some parts of New Guinea. Its preferred habitat includes banks of swamps, lakes, vegetated streams, creeks, lagoons, and dams. This fascinating bird feeds on crustaceans, small fish, aquatic insects as well as aquatic invertebrates.
A small aquatic Kingfisher, adults measure between 17-19 cm. The species is characterized by its distinct deep blue, black, orange-Rufous underside with patches of blue-violet on breast and flanks. It has large white eye-like lores, a long black bill, very short tail feathers, orange legs, and red feet with only two forward toes.
The Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) is any of seven species of sparrow-sized kingfisher found across Eurasia and North Africa. Its habitat includes canals, lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. It feeds on fish, amphibians, and aquatic invertebrates.
This species is distinguished by its dumpy body, large head, long bill, and short tail. The legs and feet are bright red. It has bright blue or green upperparts with white patches on the neck, and orange underparts. It measures about 16 – 17 cm (6.3 – 6.7 inches) long with a wingspan of 24 – 26 cm (9.5 – 10 inches) and weighs 35 – 40 g (1.25 – 1.4 oz).
The Half-collared Kingfisher (Alcedo semitorquata)is another colorful species of river kingfisher widespread across southern and eastern Africa. This exclusively fish-eating kingfisher inhabits rivers, streams and estuaries. The species is often confused with the Malachite Kingfisher; however, the half-collared kingfisher is smaller and has a darker bill. It has a dark blue head and upperparts, chestnut breast and orange feet. On average, this bird measures 18 cm long and weighs about 35 to 40 g
The Malachite Kingfisher (Alcedo cristata) is a small kingfisher which is common across sub-Saharan Africa. Its preferred habitats include: bogs, estuaries, mangrove forests, marshes, swamps, marshes, ponds, and near rivers. This expert diver feeds on fish, crabs, frogs, and aquatic insects.
Malachite kingfishers measure about 14 cm long and weigh up to 18 g. Generally, adults have bright metallic blue upperparts and orange-brown chest. The head has a short crest of black and blue feathers with prominent white patches from the ear to the rear of the head. Adults have reddish orange bill and scarlet legs.
The Madagascar Kingfisher or Malagasy Kingfisher (Alcedo vintsioides) is a river kingfisher endemic to Madagascar and Mayotte (Comoros). The species inhabits subtropical or tropical mangrove forests. It feeds on insects and other invertebrates. This brightly colored bird is only 15cm long. It has blue upperparts and orange underparts. Also, it has white neck, black bill and red feet.
Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher
The Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher (Ceyx madagascariensis) is a species of river kingfisher endemic to Madagascar that prefers dry deciduous forests as habitat. Its diet includes frogs and insects. This small bird is only 13 cm (7 inches) long. It is easily distinguished by its flattened bright orange bill, a Rufous colored upperparts, and white colored chest. The Madagascar Pygmy-Kingfisher is classified as Least Concern.
African Pygmy Kingfisher
The African Pygmy Kingfisher (Ispidina picta) is a small, brightly colored bird, widespread across sub-Saharan Africa found mostly in woodland, savanna and coastal forest. The species can be found singly or in pairs hunting for insects and small vertebrates.
The African Pygmy Kingfisher measures about 12-13 cm long and weighs 15 g. Adult bird has a small dark blue crown, orange cheeks and broad, red flattened bills. Generally, the species has blue back the rest of its body is predominantly orange.