Friday, 25 January 2013

Pied kingfisher

Ceryle rudis

Photo by Tarique Sani (Flickr)

Common name:
pied kingfisher (en); guarda-rios-malhado (pt); martim-pêcheur pie (fr); martím pescador bicolor (es); graufischer (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Coraciiformes
Family Alcedinidae

Range:
This species is found throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa, in Egypt and the Middle East as far north as Turkey and as far east as southern Iran, and also in southern Asia, from Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan, throughout India and into southern China, Thailand and Vietnam.

Size:
These birds are 25-29 cm long and weigh 70-100 g.

Habitat:
The pied kingfisher is found in a wide range of fresh and salt water habitats, including slow-moving rivers, estuaries, mangroves, lakes, tidal rock pools, lagoons, dams and reservoirs with some nearby trees or man-made structures suitable for perching.

Diet:
They mainly hunt fish, especially Cichlidae, Cyprinidae, Characidae and some Clupeidae. They also take aquatic insects such as dragonflies and their larvae, water bugs, water beetles, some grasshoppers and crickets, crustaceans and more rarely frogs, tadpoles and molluscs.

Breeding:
Pied kingfishers are monogamous, cooperative breeder, with non-mated birds helping raise the offspring of a mated pair. The helpers are usually the offspring from the previous year. They can breed all year round, varying between different part of their range. Both sexes build the nest, a long tunnel excavated on a vertical sandbank, and nests may be isolated or in colonies of up to 100 birds. The female lays 1-7 glossy white eggs, which she mostly incubates alone for 17-18 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and the helpers, fledging 24-29 days after hatching. They only become fully independent 1-2 months after fledging.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and is described as abundant, in fact being one of the most common kingfishers in the world. This species may benefit from human dams and fish farms, but is also negatively affected by poisons which are bioaccumulated on their fish prey.

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