Ceryle – Pied kingfisher

Widely distributed across Asia and Africa, the Pied kingfisher is sociable, unlike other family members

A distinctive bird and one of the most easily recognized kingfishers due to its black and white plumage. This species is widespread across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, and interestingly, it is one of the few kingfisher species that can be found far away from forested areas, often inhabiting arid environments as long as they are near water.

The Pied Kingfisher is medium-sized, with males and females exhibiting the characteristic black and white plumage, which provides excellent camouflage against the backdrop of water and sky. The black and white bands across their chests are particularly noticeable. They also have a crest, which can be raised or lowered, adding to their striking appearance.

These birds are typically found near water bodies such as lakes, rivers, and coasts, and they prefer clear waters where fish are easily visible. Unlike other kingfisher species, they tend to avoid dense mangroves and large swamps. Their range is extensive, but they tend to remain within a set territory, especially if the food supply is consistent.

Pied Kingfishers are known for their unique hunting technique. They hover over water bodies, often at considerable heights, before plunging down to catch fish with their long, dagger-like beaks. They can also forage on crustaceans and aquatic insects. Remarkably, they have the ability to process their prey while in flight, which is not a common trait among kingfishers, who usually return to a perch to consume their catch.

While the Pied Kingfisher is not known for long migratory movements, it does exhibit seasonal migrations, often related to water levels and food availability. They are capable fliers, reaching speeds of up to 50 km/h (31 mph), allowing them to move efficiently within and between feeding areas.