Monday, 13 September 2010

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)

This is my second post on the kingfisher. The earlier entry can be found here . There is a particular species which frequents the trees behind my backyard. I suspect that there is a nesting couple nearby, perhaps along the grassy slopes. Every day, particularly in the mornings, I would hear the distinct sounds and calls made by the White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis).

The White-throated Kingfisher is a tree kingfisher which is widely distributed in South East Asia. It can often be found well away from water where it feeds on a wide range of prey that includes small reptiles, amphibians, crabs, small rodents and even birds. During the breeding season they call loudly in the mornings from prominent perches such as cables, tv antennas, tree branches and fences. This is a fairly large species which can grow to about 28cm in length. The adult has a bright blue back, wings and tail. Its head, shoulders, flanks and lower belly are chestnut, and the throat and breast are white. The large bill and legs are bright red. The flight of the White-throated Kingfisher is rapid and direct.

The White-throated Kingfisher begins breeding at the onset of the Monsoons. Males perch on prominent high posts in their territory and call in the early morning. I managed to do two recordings but it took forever to upload on YouTube. Hence I have embedded below, a clip which was recorded and uploaded onto YouTube by Immsl

The nest is usually a tunnel in an earth bank. The nest building begins with both birds flying into a suitable mud wall until an indentation is made where they can find a perch hold. They subsequently perch and continue digging the nest with their bills. A single clutch of 4-7 round white eggs is typical. The eggs take 20–22 days to hatch while the chicks fledge in 19 days.

Fellow nature & bird blogger Shirley Ng has been documenting the courtship of a pair of White-Throated Kingfishers in her posts Chronicle of Mr and Mrs King. In her latest post, she has taken photos of the nest building in action. She has even managed to shoot the male after it was done digging for the day, with soil all over its beak. Classic!

*All images taken with Canon 7D and Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM Zoom lens*

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