Vertebrate fauna of SE Asia


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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
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Tree Kingfishers

Fig 1 : Collared Kingfisher

Fig 2 : Black-capped Kingfisher

Fig 3 : Black-capped Kingfisher

Fig 4 : Black-capped Kingfisher

Fig 5 : Banded Kingfisher - male

Fig 6 : Stork-billed Kingfisher

Fig 7 : White-throated Kingfisher

Fig 8 : Forest Kingfisher

Fig 9 : Brown-winged Kingfisher


Superlative in their colourful plumage and sleek appearance, kingfishers are amongst the most unmistakable of bird groups. Kingfishers comprise the family Alcedinidae, which has 3 sub-families: the tree kingfishers (on this page), the river kingfishers and the water kingfishers. Kingfishers are believed to have evolved within Southeast Asia and then radiated to other parts of the tropics.

Tree kingfishers have stout bodies, short tails and long, thick, powerful bills. Many inhabit forested areas far from any water body, and thus fishes form only part of their diet which also includes insects and small invertebrates, particularly lizards, which are plucked on the wing from tree branches. They nest in tree holes and termite mounds.

If disturbed near a nesting site, these birds fly silently away. Once at a safe distance they call loudly to distract the attention of the intruder.

Tree kingfishers are a diverse group : in Southeast Asia 20 species or more are recognised, and this number rises to more than 30 when those species from New Guinea whose ranges extend into easternmost Indonesia are included.

Fig 1 :
Collared Kingfisher (Mangrove Kingfisher)
Todirhamphus chloris
Location :
West Coast, Singapore
Habitat : Secondary forest

Figs 2 to 4 :
lack-capped Kingfisher
Halcyon pileata
Location :
West Coast, Singapore
Habitats :
Swampy lake (Fig 2), and coastal mangrove (Figs 3 and 4).

Fig 5 :
Banded Kingfisher (male)
Lacedo pulchella
Location :
Johor, Peninsular Malaysia
Habitat : Lowland primary forest, near freshwater swamp forest.

Fig 6 :
Stork-billed Kingfisher

Pelargopsis capensis
Location :
Sungei Buloh, Singapore
Habitat : Mangrove estuary

Fig 7 :
White-throated Kingfisher

Halcyon smyrnensis
Location : West Coast, Singapore
Habitat : Secondary forest

Fig 8 :
Forest Kingfisher

Todirhamphus macleayii
Location : Central highlands, New Guinea
Habitat : Lower montane primary rainforest

Fig 9 :
Brown-winged Kingfisher

Pelargopsis amauroptera
Location :
Langkawi, Peninsular Malaysia
Habitat : Mangrove inlet