Common Kingfisher Photo Guide

I invite you to take a brief tour through images of this sparrow sized kingfisher which is found near water bodies.The common kingfisher is present throughout India.Common kingfisher Alcedo atthis

Photo Courtesy of Mike Prince @ Dal Lake,Kashmir May 2014

Salim Ali, in his book of Indian birds has described this kingfisher’s size as similar to that of a house sparrow. What picture will better explain this bird’s sparrow-like size than the picture above? So, this is a cute little kingfisher with blue or bluish-green back and wings.It has a rusty orange breast and belly.Common_Kingfisher_(Alcedo_atthis)-_benghalensis_race_in_Lotus_Pond

Photo Courtesy of J.M.Garg @ Hyderabad, July 2008

Look at the teeny-tiny kingfisher sitting atop a lotus bud!These kingfishers are found near water bodies like streams,ponds etc.It is interesting to note that they are indicators of the health of the freshwater ecosystem. A higher population indicates less water pollution. If they feed from heavily polluted water bodies, they will suffer from a build up of toxins in their body. The toxins accumulate when they feed daily on fish and other aquatic insects that has acquired toxins from polluted water.common kingfisher pair

Photo Courtesy of Sathyanarayana Srinivasan @ Thattekad, Kerala, Apr 2009

They are They are a type of river kingfishers and hence have a diet that is dominated by fish and other aquatic life.This aquatic diet is also the reason why they are found near water. Here a pair can be seen sitting on the edge of a boat on the look out for prey. If you look closely, you can tell that the bird on the right has lighter bill color compared to bird on the left. In common kingfisher, although male and female are similar, females have orangish lower bill whereas male has an all black bill.Common_kingfisher_alcedo_atthis_Male

Photo Courtesy of Sathyanarayana Srinivasan @ Kismatpur, Hyderabad, Sep 2012

Here is a male with an all black bill.Alcedo_atthis_common_kingfisher_female

Photo Courtesy of Sathyanarayana Srinivasan @ Rajendranagar, Hyderabad, Jun 2012

You can tell that this is a female from the orangish lower bill.

The usual nesting months are from March to June.Nests are tunnels built into banks of rivers, ponds etc.It is proved by a study that they prefer to have nest sites on those areas of rivers where there is better water quality as well as natural vegetation.They prefer shallow waters as the maximum diving depth of this small kingfisher is only 30 cm.The study also found that they preferred stretches of a river where there is more sand and gravel at the bottom. They conclude that this could be because preferred prey items are found more on rivers with sandy bottoms.

Juveniles have a more greenish tinge and are duller versions of the adults. Their bills and feet are initially black. Adult’s legs are orange-red.

References
1.Common kingfisher page @ Wikipedia
2.The Book of Indian Birds By Salim Ali,Published by The Bombay Natural History Society,1941
3.The Birds of Southern India By Baker, H. R., and C. M. Inglis,1930
4.Handbook to the Birds of the Bombay Presidency By Barnes, Henry Edwin,1885
5.Common kingfisher page @ Encyclopaedia of Life
6.Habitat selection by breeding Common Kingfishers (Alcedo atthis L.) in rivers from Northern Iberia, International Journal of Limnology (the study of lakes and other bodies of fresh water.), Volume 48 / Issue 03 / January 2012, pp 289-294

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