Pied kingfisher

Ceryle rudis

SUBFAMILY

Cerylinae

TAXONOMY

Alcedo rudis Linnaeus, 1758, Egypt. Four subspecies. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Lesser/small/Indian pied kingfisher; French: Martin-pêcheur pie; German: Graufischer; Spanish: Martin Pescador Pie.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

10 in (25 cm), 2.4-3.9 oz (68-110 g). Medium-sized kingfisher patterned in black and white. Black crown and broad mask distinctive, with double (male) or single (female) black band across white underparts. Very long black bill.

DISTRIBUTION

Sub-Saharan Africa, through Middle East, India, and Asian mainland to southern China.

HABITAT

Mainly large rivers, estuaries, and lakes, but from seashores to 8,200 ft (2,500 m) above sea level, also streams, ponds, and irrigation ditches. Absent from center of large swamps.

BEHAVIOR

Often perched on waterside vegetation or lookouts, rarely on the backs of hippos. Regularly bobs head or pumps tail. Noisy, with variety of shrill trills and chirps, uttered at perch or in flight.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Perches wherever possible, to save energy, but hovers in search of prey more than any other kingfisher, especially under windy

conditions. May then dive to 18 in (45 cm) below the surface and forage up to 2 mi (3 km) from shore, where it swallows prey in flight rather than return to a perch. Diet mainly small 1-2.4 in (25-60 mm) fish, supplemented by aquatic insects and crustacea. Eats few amphibians and mollusks, even insects taken ashore or in the air.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous pair excavates a nest tunnel in an earth bank, alone, or in colony of up to 100 pairs where nest sites limited. Normal clutch four to five eggs, incubation 18 days, nestling period 23-26 days. Sexes share nest duties, often assisted by a son from a previous brood and, especially in feeding chicks, by unrelated males.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Widespread and common, locally even abundant. The most numerous kingfisher in the world. Benefited in many areas from artificial dams and fish farming or stocking activities. Suffers locally from water pollution and use of pesticides.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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