Kingfishers can be observed in bodies of water, rivers, and streams all over the world. These animals have an eye-catching appearance and are incredibly flexible and agile, making them a fascinating subject for bird enthusiasts. In this article, we will explore the hunting skills of this small animal and help you better understand the kingfisher breed.
According to research, kingfishers are among the first birds to appear on Earth, with their origin traced to the African continent. Archaeology and fossils have confirmed this. Currently, there are 90 different types of kingfishers, each with unique appearances and growth characteristics.
Kingfishers are classified under the Lemongrass order and are widely distributed across the Earth’s continental shelf. They are mainly concentrated in areas such as Asia, Africa, and the land of Oceania. Kingfishers are divided into three main families: the Kingfisher family – Alcedines, the Kingfisher family – Cerylidae, and the Lemongrass family – Halcyonidae. On average, this bird has a lifespan of about 4-5 years.
Kingfishers are known as fearsome killers of small fish that live in watery areas such as ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams around the world. Despite their small bodies, they are endowed with outstanding speed and agility. To learn more about kingfishers and their living habits, read along with us.
The mating and reproductive behavior of kingfishers occurs mainly during spring and summer. Male kingfishers pursue females to win their affection, after which they pair up and construct nests for mating and laying eggs. These birds nest in earth caves or tree holes that are discreet and difficult to detect when passing by. The nest is crafted with materials such as leaves, roots, and dry branches to make it look secure and robust. During each mating season, this species only produces 3 to 5 offspring, with small blue eggs that may have brown spots.
Once the eggs are laid, both male and female kingfishers incubate them together for approximately 20 days. After hatching, the young birds are cared for by the parents, who take turns finding food. At around 3-4 weeks old, kingfishers practice flying and leave the nest for the first time. For weaker chicks due to poor food sources, it takes up to 35-40 days to mature.
Kingfishers also have a territorial division, which helps them maintain an abundant food source and endure harsh natural conditions in winter, rainstorms, etc. Typically, they begin to divide their living areas and birth territories in mid-September, with breeding couples doing so as soon as the weather turns warm in summer.
The Kingfisher’s Endangered Status
Kingfishers have become increasingly rare due to urbanization and human activity, causing their natural habitats along the banks of rivers and lakes – where they breed – to be replaced with cement and solid embankments. As a result, their ability to dig and nest has been greatly impacted. Additionally, severe weather conditions have also contributed to the decrease in their numbers, as many Kingfishers die in the winter from the cold, and cannot tolerate extreme heat either. Floods and continuous rainstorms also negatively affect their fertility and individual development.
Identifying Kingfishers by Appearance
Kingfishers are small birds with strikingly colorful plumage. To identify them in the wild, pay attention to the following characteristics:
Adult Kingfishers can range from 10-45cm in size, and weigh between 10-355g depending on the family. Females are typically smaller and shorter than males.
The smallest group is the Ispidina Lecontei, which weighs only 10.4g and is 10cm in length.
The Giant Kingfisher, known as Megaceryle Maximas, can grow up to 355g and 45cm in size.
The Dacelo NovaeGuinea (Australian Kingfisher) is considered the heaviest family with an average adult weight over 450g.
The Kingfisher has a very distinctive appearance that makes it easy to identify. Its head is quite large compared to its body, and it’s very round and extremely hard. The most recognizable feature of this bird is its long, large, and hard beak with a jet black color. This is an effective tool for Kingfishers to hunt well every day. Their neck is quite short compared to many other breeds, and their body is round with a large belly and a slightly arched back. Kingfisher’s feet have a characteristic coral red color, and although small, they have sharp claws in return. Their feathers are usually brightly colored with green and blue dorsal gills being the most common. The underside of the belly is always darker with a characteristic dark brown, while the neck position will have pure white feathers. Females are always lighter in color than male Kingfishers. When flying in the sun, this species often becomes shiny, reflecting thanks to the feather structure that scatters blue light.
Kingfisher’s Special Way of Hunting
Kingfishers have always been classified as the masters of hunting in the wild. This bird possesses the ability to observe the selection of objects and strike with an extremely high accuracy rate. When hunting, Kingfishers will stand on the branches of trees, reaching out to the surface of lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, etc., to make it easier to observe. When the prey emerges from the water to breathe, this bird will quickly gallop down using its beak to quickly catch the fish ashore.
What makes this species able to hunt accurately with such a high rate is thanks to the extremely special eye structure. Even in deep or murky waters, Kingfishers can easily see their prey. When hunting, this bird often looks with two eyes fixed inside the cavity, meaning all movement tracking prey comes from rotating, moving the head. Thanks to that, their body dives down to catch fish very quickly and with high accuracy.
In addition, this bird has excellent depth judgment. At the same time, Kingfisher eyes have a unique structure that helps them compensate for the refraction of water and reflections when hunting. The pupil of this bird also has an additional protective membrane so that the eye part is always safe and clearly visible when the Kingfisher falls, plunges into the water.
Kingfishers are known to inhabit areas that provide a good source of food for them. These birds mainly feed on small fish found in gentle flowing waters such as rivers and coastal regions. They also consume other seafood like shrimps, spiny fish, and beaked fish. Some species of Kingfishers can also eat insects. Thus, their main habitat is usually in tropical and temperate zones. The UK has recently recorded sightings of Kingfishers in the central and southern regions. Slow-moving waters such as rivers, lakes, ditches, and canals are the ideal habitats for these birds, although they can sometimes settle in coastal areas. In the country, Kingfishers are mostly concentrated in the south-central and northern mountainous regions.
The question of whether Kingfishers can be raised or not is a topic of interest for many bird enthusiasts. However, experts advise against capturing or keeping this wild bird as a pet. Kingfishers are extremely difficult to domesticate, and confining them in cages can have adverse effects on their health and growth ability. They have a predatory behavior and require a high nutritional diet with a variety of ingredients. It’s challenging for owners to provide enough quality food for them, which can lead to the bird’s weakening and even death. Therefore, raising Kingfishers is not as simple as other types of birds, and the success rate is incredibly low.