Alcedo rudis Linnaeus, 1758, Egypt. Four subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Lesser/small/Indian pied kingfisher; French: Martinpкcheur pie; German: Graufischer; Spanish: Martin Pescador Pie.
10 in (25 cm), 2.4–3.9 oz (68–110 g). Medium-sized kingfisher patterned in black and white. Black crown and broad mask distinctive, with double (male) or single (female) black band across white underparts. Very long black bill.
Sub-Saharan Africa, through Middle East, India, and Asian mainland to southern China.
Mainly large rivers, estuaries, and lakes, but from seashores to 8,200 ft (2,500 m) above sea level, also streams, ponds, and irrigation ditches. Absent from center of large swamps.
Often perched on waterside vegetation or lookouts, rarely on the backs of hippos. Regularly bobs head or pumps tail. Noisy, with variety of shrill trills and chirps, uttered at perch or in flight.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Perches wherever possible, to save energy, but hovers in search of prey more than any other kingfisher, especially under windy conditions. May then dive to 18 in (45 cm) below the surface and forage up to 2 mi (3 km) from shore, where it swallows prey in flight rather than return to a perch. Diet mainly small 1–2.4 in (25–60 mm) fish, supplemented by aquatic insects and crustacea. Eats few amphibians and mollusks, even insects taken ashore or in the air.
Monogamous pair excavates a nest tunnel in an earth bank, alone, or in colony of up to 100 pairs where nest sites limited. Normal clutch four to five eggs, incubation 18 days, nestling period 23–26 days. Sexes share nest duties, often assisted by a son from a previous brood and, especially in feeding chicks, by unrelated males.
Not threatened. Widespread and common, locally even abundant. The most numerous kingfisher in the world. Benefited in many areas from artificial dams and fish farming or stocking activities. Suffers locally from water pollution and use of pesticides.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
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