Alcedini’ – Kingfishers

Found in the wooded habitats of tropical forests, kingfishers are exclusively territorial, having good eyesight

They are recognized for their bright plumage, large heads, short necks, and long, sharp bills designed for efficient hunting. These birds have a near-global distribution, with species occupying a range of habitats from the tropical rainforests of the Australasian region to the temperate climes of Europe and North America. While they are often associated with rivers and lakes where they hunt for fish, many species also thrive in woodland and forested areas, and some have adapted to life in urban settings.

Kingfishers exhibit remarkable versatility in their choice of prey. Although their name suggests a diet primarily of aquatic organisms, many species feed extensively on terrestrial insects, small reptiles, amphibians, and even small mammals. Their hunting technique is precise and patient; they may perch silently over water or on a branch until they spot prey, then dive swiftly to capture it with their bill.

The birds’ monogamous nature is reflected in their breeding habits. Kingfishers typically excavate tunnel-like nests in earthen banks near water. These burrows serve as a safe place to lay eggs and provide protection from predators. Both parents are involved in caring for their offspring, sharing duties from incubation to feeding the chicks.

Among the most well-known species is the Laughing Kookaburra of Australia, the largest member of the kingfisher family. Known for its distinctive call, which resembles human laughter, the Kookaburra feeds mainly on land-based prey and is a familiar sight in Australian backyards.

Many kingfishers are sedentary, maintaining territories year-round. However, some species migrate, especially those living in regions where water bodies freeze in winter. These migratory kingfishers defy the typical nocturnal migration pattern of many birds and instead travel during daylight hours, which may be a strategy to avoid disorientation and maintain orientation over familiar landscapes.