name = Kingfishers
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
subordo = Alcedines
subdivision_ranks = Families
Kingfishers are small bright colored
birds of the three families Alcedinidae ( river kingfishers), Halcyonidae ( tree kingfishers), and Cerylidae ( water kingfishers). There are about 90 species of kingfisher. All have large heads, long, sharp, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. They are found throughout the world.
The etymology of "kingfisher" is obscure; the term comes from "king's fisher", but why that name was applied is not known [cite web
title = Online Etymology Dictionary
url = http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=king&searchmode=term
author = Douglas Harper
year = 2001
accessdate = 2007-07-14] .
taxonomyof the three families is complex and rather controversial. Although commonly assigned to the order Coraciiformes, from this level down confusion sets in.
The kingfishers were traditionally treated as one family, Alcedinidae with three subfamilies, but following the 1990s revolution in bird taxonomy, the three former subfamilies are now usually elevated to familial level. That move was supported by chromosome and DNA-DNA hybridisation studies, but challenged on the grounds that all three groups are
monophyleticwith respect to the other Coraciiformes. This leads to them being grouped as the suborder Alcedines.
The tree kingfishers have been previously given the familial name Dacelonidae but Halcyonidae has priority. This group derives from a very ancient divergence from the ancestral stock.Even tropical
South Americahas only five species plus wintering Belted Kingfisher. In comparison, the tiny African country of The Gambiahas eight resident species in its 120 by 20 mi. (192 by 32 km) area.
The six species occurring in the Americas are four closely related green kingfishers in the genus "Chloroceryle" and two large crested kingfishers in the genus "
Megaceryle", suggestingFact|date=April 2008 that the sparse representation in the western hemisphere evolved from just one or two original colonising species.
The smallest species of kingfisher is the African Dwarf Kingfisher ("Ispidina lecontei"), which averages at 10.4 g and 10 cm (4 inches). The largest overall is the
Giant Kingfisher("Megaceryle maxima"), at an average of 355 g (13.5 oz) and 45 cm (18 inches). However, the familiar Australian kingfisher known as the Laughing Kookaburra("Dacelo novaeguineae") may be the heaviest species, since large individuals exceeding 450 g (1 lb) are not rare.
Kingfishers live in both woodland and wetland habitats. Kingfishers that live near water hunt small
fishby diving. They also eat crayfish, frogs, and insects. Wood kingfishers eat reptiles. Kingfishers of all three families beat their prey to death, either by whipping it against a tree or by dropping it on a stone.Fact|date=August 2008
They are able to see well both in air and under water while swimming. Their eyes also have evolved an egg-shaped lens able to focus in the two different environments.
Old Worldtropics and Australasiaare the core area for this group. Europeand North Americanorth of Mexicoare very poorly represented with only one common kingfisher ( Common Kingfisherand Belted Kingfisherrespectively), and a couple of uncommon or very local species each: ( Ringed Kingfisherand Green Kingfisherin the southwest USA, Pied Kingfisherand White-breasted Kingfisherin SE Europe).
The Pacific Islands Conservation Research Association is involved with projects studying coral reef fish and endangered Micronesian Kingfishers (Todiramphus cinnamominus) in the Federated States of Micronesia. Additionally the Ornithological Society of
Polynesia, studied critically endangered Niau Kingfishers (Todiramphus gambieri niauensis) in French Polynesia with PICRA support.
Pacific Islands Conservation Research Association
* ARKive - [http://www.arkive.org/species/ARK/birds/Alcedo_atthis/ images and movies of the Kingfisher "(Alcedo atthis)"]
* [http://ibc.hbw.com/ibc/phtml/familia.phtml?idFamilia=88 Kingfisher videos] on the Internet Bird Collection
* [http://www.alinweb.com/fotograf/04/05/yalicapkini/index.html Kingfisher photos from Turkey]
* [http://www.trakus.org/kods_bird/uye/?fsx=2fsdl15@d&idx=6029 A hunting European Kingfisher]
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