Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle Rudis)

It is a black-and-white kingfisher, with a shiny black bill and short, busky crest. Pairs or small groups are often observed perching together. It thrives in various waterside habitats, such from estuaries, lakes, and to mangroves. It is renowned for its fishing technique and regarded as the largest bird in the world that can hover without using air currents or catch prey without flying from a perch.

Read further to know more about the Pied Kingfisher.

What is a Pied Kingfisher?

Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) is a water kingfisher species spread throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. It is recognizable through its black-and-white plumage and crest as well for its unique fishing technique of hovering over clear rivers and lakes before plunge diving for their prey.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Coraciiformes

Family: Alcedinidae

Subfamily: Cerylinae

Genus: Ceryle

F. Boie, 1828

Species: C. rudis

Pied Kingfisher Physical Description

Pied Kingfishers are relatively small birds, growing around 9.4 to 10.2 inches, weighing around 70 to 95 grams, with a wingspan of 17.7 to 18.5 inches or 45 to 47 centimeters.

As its name suggests, this kingfisher has black-and-white plumage. Male pied kingfishers have a black crown and crest, with a white band stretching above its eyes, then a thicker stripe occurs across the eyes until the neck. Collar and throat are also white. The upperparts are black but sport white edges, producing a mottled appearance. Rump is black and white-barred while wing tetrices have white marks.

Meanwhile, underparts are white, with two fine black bars, with the upper band being thicker and usually broken at the center. Eyes are dark brown, feet and legs are blackish, while the powerful bill is long, black and dagger-like. During their flight, their fanned tail is long, white, with black tips and median feathers. Female looks similar to the male but only has a single, narrower breast band, which is also broken at the center.

Where can they be spotted?

Pied Kingfisher thrives near water bodies, such as rivers, estuaries, lakes, rocky and sandy coasts, lagoons, streams, irrigation ditches, canals, inlets, bays, floodlands, and fresh or brackish water tanks. They perch in nearby trees, posts, poles, and fences. The species has a vast range, occurring in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Asia.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Pied Kingfisher

Pied Kingfishers primarily feed on fish, but may occasionally consume aquatic insects, amphibians, frogs, molluscs, and crustaceans. They hunt by hovering around 50 to 65 feet above the water, before plunge diving to catch their prey. With their unique ability, they are considered as the largest hovering bird in the world that can fly without using air currents.

They are skilled not only due to their exceptional hovering ability, but their remarkable vision also plays a vital role in their incredible hunting strategy. These birds can spot the exact position of their victim from above plus their eyesight is not affected by water refraction, allowing them to make sudden movements based on the reaction of their prey.

Pied Kingfishers are highly gregarious, often seen in pairs and groups. They are cooperative breeders, which means non-breeding birds called ‘helpers’ aid the breeding pair in raising their offspring. Helpers also help in defending their territory.

Courtship antics is characterized by dancing displays, performed by 3 to 12 males altogether. Afterwards, males offer food to females, typically lasting for about three weeks. These birds are monogamous and will form strong bonds with their partners. As water kingfishers, they construct their nests near water bodies. Both sexes build them by scraping or digging holes in vertical mud or earthen banks, typically 4-5 feet deep.

Breeding season usually happens from February to April. The female will lay a clutch of 4 to 5 eggs, which both sexes incubate approximately for 18 days. The male pied kingfisher also brings food to the female, during the nest construction, incubation period. Fledglings will remain in the nest for about three weeks after hatching and will reach sexual maturity in a year.

Pied Kingfishers population size is estimated to be at around 1.7 million individuals. They are currently classified as Least Concern (LC) under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.



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Pied Kingfisher