Discover All About The Alcedinidae, A Suborder Of Birds

The family Alcedinidae belongs to the order Coraciiformes, they are known under the names of Kingfishers. They are found on all continents except Antarctica, but not on the North American continent, the Sahara and northern Asia.

Habitat of Alcedinidae

The habitat of the family Alcedinidae varies from areas near water to forests, depending on the species. Its preferred habitat is open eucalyptus forests, but it can also be used in large farmland or gardens on the outskirts of cities. The territory defended by the family generally occupies an area ranging from 1 to 4 acres. The Alcedinidae family at the beginning of nest hunting. This consists of a thorough inspection of all tree cavities and vigorous drilling of all termite mounds with their powerful beaks to practice new access. However, it is also possible that they will select an old cavity from previous years.

Description of the Alcedinidae

Alcedinidae has a compact body with a large head with a long, strong, pointed beak. Its legs are short. Its tail can be long or short. Its plumage is usually very colorful and there is little distinction between male and female. The parents teach the young the technique of beating their prey to death by striking them against rocks or branches, once they have returned them to their beaks. They also spend long periods of time giving them vocal instructions to help them scream.

In the family Alcedinidae the birds stay together during the night and occupy the same branches in confused groups, some facing each other and others with their backs to each other. It is during these nocturnal roosts that the kookaburras reject their rejection balls. These sometimes accumulate in large mounds at the foot of their favorite perches. The flight: it flies over short distances, but its flight is fast, powerful and direct.

Feeding of the Alcedinidae

Their diet varies according to the species: fish, insects, reptiles, small invertebrates, even small vertebrates. Alcedinidae are generally monogamous. They nest in cliffs or riverbanks or in tree trunks. Some dig their nest, others use pre-existing cavities. They feed on a wide variety of small terrestrial animals. Its diet includes insects (grasshoppers, beetles, cockroaches) but also snails, mice lizards and small snakes.

Members of the family Alcedinidae naturally like small fish, but their diet also includes amphibians, shrimp and crabs when the latter resource is available. If there is a shortage of its usual food, the blue-winged kingfisher attacks the young of another species from which it steals eggs and captures chicks. Food that is not digested, such as membranous insect wings, scales, skins, bones, is compacted into a ball in the stomach and regurgitated through the beak.

Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle Americana)

The Green Kingfisher, a member of the Alcedinidae family, is 17 centimeters tall and is present from the north of Argentina to the center of the country, except for the Andes Mountains. It belongs to the family Alcedinidae. In both sexes, the head is large and crowned by a half hoopoe. The beak, strong and long, is black. The forehead and the part from the beak to the eye are black. The eye is large and highlighted by a small white crescent.

The iris is dark brown. The plumage on the top of the head and back is bright dark green. It has small white spots on the wings. The chin is white, followed by a full white collar as well. In the male, the chin and throat are crossed by a thin green line. The chest is brick red. The belly is white with large black green bars on the sides and sides.

The underwing is dull green and white. The underside of the tail is dark gray with white spots. The legs are dark gray. In the female, the chin and throat are light cinnamon. (See Article: Rallidae)

The upper chest is bright golden green with a light beige hem. The rest of the plumage is similar to that of the male. The plumage of the juvenile resembles that of the female, but is also dull and has small beige dots on the top of the head and on the top of the wings.

The green fisher lives alone or in pairs in swampy areas, lagoons and rivers. It feeds mainly on small fish and crustaceans, and occasionally on insects. To hunt, it lands on a low branch above the water. It can remain motionless for a long time, but sometimes nods or straightens its tail. After spotting its prey, it quickly pounces on it and then settles back into the vegetation to kill and eat it. Its nest is located at the bottom of a gallery that the pair excavates in a bank.

This tunnel is 5 to 6 centimeters in diameter and up to 1 meter deep. The female lays 4 to 6 round, white eggs. Incubation lasts 20 days and is provided by both parents. The chicks are fed by the pair and leave the nest after 25 days. The populations of green kingfishers are stable and present no danger to their conservation. 5 subspecies of Green Kingfishers are present in its distribution, which extends from Central America to South America.

Five subspecies of Chloroceryle americana are known:

  • Chloroceryle americana americana americana (Gmelin, 1788) – Tropical South America (primarily east of the Andes); Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Chloroceryle americana cabanisii (Tschudi, 1846) . western Colombia, western Ecuador, western Andes to northern Chile.
  • Chloroceryle americana hachisukai Laubmann, 1942. – From extreme southern Arizona to west-central Texas and northwestern Mexico.
  • Chloroceryle americana mathewsii Laubmann, 1927 from southern Brazil and Bolivia to northern Argentina.
  • Chloroceryle americana septentrionalis (Sharpe, 1892) – from south-central Texas to southern Colombia and western Venezuela.

Amazon Kingfisher (Chloroceryle Amazona)

The Amazon kingfisher is between 26 and 30 centimeters long and is present from northeastern Argentina to southeastern Buenos Aires province. It belongs to the family Alcedinidae. The adult male has the plumage of the head, crowned by half a hoopoe, dark green satin. The back is shiny dark green. The face is marked with small white spots and the eye is marked with a white crescent below.

The chin and throat are white with a thin green line on the sides. The neck is marked with a light white collar. The chest is brick red and dark green on the sides. The belly is white with clearly striated dark green flanks. The wings are marked with small white spots, except on the feathers of the upper covert. The tail, which serves as a pendulum, is green splashed with white.

The bill is straight and pointed, long and black with the lower mandible marked with yellow. The eyes are dark brown, the legs and toes are dark gray. The female is distinguished from the male by its white breast with broad green edges that meet almost at the belly. The plumage of juvenile subjects differs from that of the adult female by the beige patches on the upper wings and the large yellow space on the bill. (See Article: Otis Tarda)

The Amazonian kingfisher frequents aquatic environments such as lagoons, lakes and rivers, preferably with trees and bushes, which are excellent observation posts.The Amazonian kingfisher is most often seen alone and occasionally as a pair. Its diet consists mainly of fish and occasionally small crustaceans. To fish, it perches on a branch at the average height of a tree and monitors the passage of prey.

The wait can be long. Once discovered, it dives quickly to capture it and returns to the starting place. If the fish caught is too big, it is slammed against the tree branch and then swallowed head first. You can also see the Amazonian kingfisher hovering over the water in search of food. The nest consists of a gallery, dug by the pair, in a bank or embankment, close to the water. It has a diameter of approximately 10 cm and can reach a depth of 1.50 meters.

The incubation chamber, where the female lays 3 or 4 white, almost round eggs. Incubation lasts about 3 weeks and is provided by the pair. The chicks are fed by both parents and leave the nest after one month. Although not abundant, kingfisher populations are stable and the species does not present a conservation risk. The Amazon kingfisher is present from Central America to Argentina. Kingfisher populations are stable and the species is safe for conservation.

Red-bellied Kingfisher (Megaceryle Torquata)

The red-bellied kingfisher measures 36 to 38 cm. It is the largest of the kingfishers. It belongs to the family Alcedinidae. Its head is blue-gray with blackish mottling and crowned by a characteristic frilly rim. Its long and powerful beak is blackish gray and yellowish at the base. A small white spot can be seen on the front and back of its dark brown eye. A large white collar encloses the neck. Its back and wings are bluish gray slightly mottled with bluish whitish.

The tail is dark with blue-gray edges and white spots. Its breast and belly are brick red. Its underbelly is white with gray bars. In flight, we can see the lower part of the wings with white wing coverts and the rest blackish and white, the feathers ending in a dark band. Its legs are gray. The plumage of the female is declined in the same colors, but has a broad blue-gray band on the breast, separated from the belly by a narrow white band. The underside of the abdomen is brick red. The lower coverts are brick red.

The juvenile resembles the female, but the plumage of the upperparts is streaked and the breast band is gray mixed with brick red. The underparts are partially white. The Red-bellied Kingfisher frequents all aquatic environments, or their surroundings, such as rivers, lakes, lagoons, coastal cliffs … Alone or in pairs, it spends long periods of time on branches, poles or even electric wires above or near water. (See Article: Circus Cyaneus)

The red-bellied kingfisher feeds mainly on fish and, to a lesser extent, crustaceans, amphibians and even small mammals. It generally finds its prey from its perch but can also hover above the water. After diving to capture its prey, it returns to its position where it will kill its catch by striking it against the branch or pole before swallowing it whole, head first. To build its nest, it digs a tunnel in a bank.

With a diameter of about ten centimeters, it can reach 2.5 meters deep. It ends with a cavity where the female will deposit her eggs directly on the ground. Sometimes nesting occurs in small colonies of 4 or 5 pairs. Three subspecies are found in the range from southern North America to southern South America.Megaceryl torquata torquata is found in southern Texas, central Argentina, but not in the Andes Mountains.

Megaceryl torquata stictipennis, which has white spots on the secondaries and is found in the Lesser Antilles. Megaceryl torquata stellata, similar to the above, but with the underside of the tail streaked with gray, found in southern Chile and Argentina, to Tierra del Fuego and migrate to the northeast in winter. In French it is also called Alacyon, or Alcyon, collar. Its first Latin name was Alcedo torquata. Older editions refer to it as Ceryle torquata or Ceryle torquatus.

There are three subspecies of large kingfishers:

  • Megaceryle torquata stellata (Meyen, 1834) – southern Chile and Argentina to Tierra del Fuego; migrates in winter to central Argentina.
  • Megaceryle torquata stictipennis (Lawrence, 1885) – Lesser Antilles (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominica, Grenada).
  • Megaceryle torquata torquata (Linnaeus, 1766) – from extreme southern Texas to central Argentina; Trinidad Island; Margarita Island.

Genus Alcedo

17 subspecies:

  • Alcedo hercules – Hercules kingfisher
  • Alcedo atthis – common kingfisher
  • Alcedo semitorquata – cobalt kingfisher
  • Alcedo quadribrachys – glossy kingfisher
  • Alcedo meninting – kingfisher meninting
  • Alcedo azurea – azure kingfisher
  • Alcedo websteri – Bismarck kingfisher
  • Alcedo euryzona – banded kingfisher
  • Alcedo cyanopecta – blue-breasted kingfisher
  • Alcedo argentata – silver kingfisher
  • Alcedo cristata – Malachite kingfisher
  • Alcedo vintsioides – Malagasy kingfisher
  • Alcedo leucogaster – ventriblanco kingfisher
  • Alcedo coerulescens – bluish kingfisher
  • Alcedo pusilla – small kingfisher
  • Alcedo nais – Prince’s kingfishers (tixagag_4)
  • Alcedo thomensis – São Tomé kingfisher
  • Alcedo atthis Alcedo

    The kingfisher belonging to the Alcedinidae family is found at the edge of calm, clean and shallow waters, rather in places protected from wind and waves. Its survival is based on catching fish in sufficient quantities, the kingfisher must have pure water and fish. Banks are appreciated, with trees and poles used as perches. The water must remain sufficiently clear for good tracking of prey. Adults are sedentary if weather permits, but juveniles sometimes wander away.

    Habitats vary seasonally: in winter, kingfishers are found along coasts and in estuaries where they flee from freshwater frost. Most Russian and Chinese kingfishers migrate south to escape the harsh, freezing winter conditions. During the breeding season, they frequent streams with steep, loose slopes. Otherwise, they are content with ponded banks or flooded sandpits.

    Despite their bright colors, kingfishers are not easy to spot. The metallic colors of their upper faces are actually excellent camouflage when running along the water on their short, vibrant wings. Fortunately they emit distinctive cries, emitted especially in mid-flight, allowing them to be seen. These loud, metallic whistles are unlike any other. (See Article: Grus Grus)

    The kingfisher of the family Alcedinidae bathes mainly during the nesting period, diving several times in a row, after which it softens its plumage, stretches its wings and yawns. In total, this bathing may last two hours a day. It rejects several times a day a grayish rejection ball containing fish bones and insect shells.At night, it sleeps alone in riparian vegetation, reeds or hollow trees.

    Most of the kingfisher’s menu consists of small fish such as minnows, sticklebacks, thornbills, sculpins, trout, dace, chub, perch, pike and boner up to 125 mm. The bird watches its prey from a perch that does not exceed three meters. Or it practices by practicing stationary flight.

    The spotted prey, sinking almost vertically, the wings are backward. Gripping the fish firmly in its powerful beak, the bird flaps its wings to rise to the surface and then returns to its perch. There, it violently slams its victim against a branch to knock it out before swallowing it.captured insects) as well as crustaceans (gammarids) and amphibians

    Genus Ceyx

    6 subspecies:

  • Ceyx erithaca – eastern kingfisher
  • Ceyx melanurus – Philippine pygmy kingfisher
  • Ceyx fallax – Sulawesian pygmy kingfisher
  • Ceyx rufidorsa – black-backed kingfisher
  • Ceyx lepidus – variable kingfisher
  • Ceyx madagascariensis – Malagasy pygmy kingfisher
  • Ceyx erithaca

    This bird belonging to the family Alcedinidae frequents primary and secondary evergreen and evergreen forests. Unlike African species of the genus Ispidina, it is found near streams and ponds and perches low (1-2 meters) above watercourses. Present from Bombay to Hainan and west to the Philippines, its territory extends south to Sri Lanka and Java. But the distribution in its area is very uneven.

    In several countries, it is extremely rare, even in its favorite habitat, which is forest areas. In low density in the Indian subcontinent, except in the southwest, it is also uncommon in Thailand and in mountainous areas. On the other hand, it is quite abundant in the forests of Borneo up to 1000 meters and in areas close to the Equator in general. Its observation is difficult as for most forest species.

    The kingfisher hunts only on a small mound or low in the vegetation. It never dives completely in catching prey found on the surface or just below. It also hunts on the ground, in the air or in foliage. Purple Kingfisher adopts a territorial behavior and bitterness settles its neighbor disputes or intrusion into its feeding or nesting area. It is a migratory bird.

    Its higher density and better location in the south are undoubtedly due to the fact that northern birds winter in the southern part of its range. This is notably a well-known visitor to the Malay Peninsula.migration is in full swing in August-September and the return to the north is in March. There is insufficient information to determine whether the northern end of its range is totally deserted during the winter or whether some birds in these areas remain in the area and exhibit sedentary behavior.

    Due to its diverse habitat, the kingfisher’s supply comes from both terrestrial and aquatic environments. It consumes mantises, crickets, flies and spiders, but also aquatic beetles, small crabs, frogs and small fish. The pair forages in a common gallery about 1 meter long in a loose bank or road embankment away from water. Its length is less when it is drilled in a termite mound or among the roots of an overturned tree.

    When the material is friable or weak like sand, the task is not prolonged and it is estimated that a couple can excavate about 25 cm in length in less than an hour. The gallery leads to a laying chamber measuring 13-15 cm in diameter and 5-7 cm high. Average egg laying varies from 3 to 7 eggs. Occurs in June in Sri Lanka, July to September in southwestern India, April and May in the northeast, May in Malaysia, December to May in Java, and March in Sumatra.

    Genus Ispidina

    2 subspecies:

  • Ispidina picta – African pygmy kingfisher
  • Ispidina lecontei – Congo pygmy kingfisher
  • Ispidina lecontei

    The African dwarf Kingfisher of the family Alcedinidae is found mostly in the middle and lower level of vegetation in the dark forest, but also frequents the dense undergrowth of riparian forests and stands beside edges and clearings. It is also sometimes found in some types of more open environments, such as very wet palm oil plantations. It is sedentary and present at sea level up to 1400 meters above sea level. This bird is endemic to West, Equatorial and Central Africa or its range is divided into three unconnected parts.

    The first, very small in West Africa, extends from Mount Nimba in Liberia to southern Ghana. The second, in Equatorial Africa, begins in southwestern Nigeria and ends in western Gabon. The third, the largest, located in Central Africa, extends from 16 ° east latitude in the Zaire Basin to the west of the Rift Valley in Uganda. Almost everywhere, this species is uncommon and even rare. However, it is very common in some forests in Gabon and Uganda.

    The red-crowned kingfisher lives alone or in territorial pairs. It usually perches one to two meters above the ground, but comes down when disturbed to hide in low vegetation. It utters a high-pitched cry that resembles that of a bat. This bird hunts for the lookout and captures its prey both on the ground and in the air. In its search for food, it moves at times following the columns of magnanic ants. Its diet is not at all related to aquatic environments, which is quite surprising for a kingfisher. It consumes small ants such as insects, dragonflies, mantids, beetles (larvae and adults) and large flies.

    The breeding season begins with the love parade. When parading, the two mates face each other on a perch, within a short distance of each other, usually less than 50 cm. They sing in duet, the bill in an almost vertical position. The male circles around the motionless female, trying to remain parallel to her. After a few turns, she circles him quickly, perches and sings again. The nest is a burrow dug into an embankment. It measures about 15 cm and ends in a laying chamber whose dimensions reach 15 cm in length and 5 cm in height. Egg deposition takes place in February in Cameroon, from November to February in Gabon.

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