Fascinating Birds: Seven Brilliantly Colored River Kingfishers

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.

Azure Kingfisher

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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.

Common Kingfisher

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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).

Half-collared Kingfisher

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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

Malachite Kingfisher

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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.

Malagasy Kingfisher

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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

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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

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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.

26 thoughts on “Fascinating Birds: Seven Brilliantly Colored River Kingfishers

  1. Marie

    Kingfishers are very interesting. Pero di pa ako nakakakita ng isa sa personal. Hehehe.

  2. nova hedges

    Extremely fascinating birds…love their colors and how they are manage to survive seems like they are tiny i bet..

  3. Cherry

    This post made me miss shooting birds, with my camera of course! I think i already captured one malagasky kingfisher before.

  4. Chubskulit Rose

    These are all gorgeous! Love that second photo the most, he literally look like a KING fisher.

  5. Algene

    I love the color of Azure Kingfisher. I know that Kingfisher is a bird but it's my first to see it. Alam mo bang ang name ng street namin is Kingfisher? Hehe

  6. rona

    I like the malagasy! Colorful! Do they also breed in other parts of the world aside from Africa?

  7. Eileen

    Such beautiful birds! They are really very colorful, which is kind of weird because most animals' colorings are adapted to their habitat. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Marie Imperial

    African Pygmy Kingfisher is so colorful and very cute! I wanna pinch it! 😀

  9. Web Design Delhi

    This is an extremely well written article. I will make sure that I will bookmark it and open this page again to read this useful information provided by you.

  10. Yamito Uytingco Calamba

    Its funny when I'm trying to remember if the Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher is part of the animation movie Madagascar. Hindi pala. hahahaha 😀

  11. Karen @ MrsLookingGood

    My favorite is the African Pygmy Kingfisher. Amazing color and very attractive stripe over its head.

  12. Jonas Labagala

    I never knew there would be different varieties of kingfisher! But I loved the blue-colored kingfishers.. 😀

  13. controversialcomments

    I love the Madagascar Pygmy kingfisher. It has beautiful colors, actually all of them do.

  14. Jason P.

    Your animal round-ups never cease to amaze me! Haha! These Kingfishers are so beautiful and so so cute! 😀

  15. Rochkirstin Santos

    It's interesting how these birds are very colorful. Their feet are too small to support their entire body.

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