Madagascar pygmy kingfisher

Its subspecies “dilutus” is rare and likely near extinction

Frank Vassen

A small but vibrant bird that adds a splash of color and charm to Madagascar’s diverse avian population. The Madagascar pygmy kingfisher is a true embodiment of beauty and grace in a compact package. Measuring only about 13 cm in length, this tiny bird boasts a striking palette of colors. Its back is a rich chestnut brown, while the underparts display a vivid orange. The face features a distinctive white and black mask, and its short, stubby bill is ideal for catching insects and small fish. The bird’s bright colors are not just for show; they play a crucial role in mating displays and territorial defenses.

The Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher, as its name suggests, is endemic to Madagascar and is found nowhere else. It thrives in the dense, humid rainforests that cover much of the island, but it also shows remarkable adaptability, surviving in secondary forests and plantations. This adaptability is a testament to the bird’s resilience in a landscape that is rapidly changing due to human activities, underscoring the need for its conservation.

Unlike its larger kingfisher cousins, which may dive into the water for fish, the Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher primarily feeds on insects and small vertebrates near water bodies. It uses a “wait and watch” technique from a perch, swooping down to snatch up prey with impressive accuracy. This diet reflects the kingfisher’s adaptation to its forested environment, where water bodies are not always expansive enough to support larger fish.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Madagascar
2016

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No