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Alcedinidae – Kingfishers

Shining-blue Kingfisher in Uganda: Photo by Niall Perrins

Alcedinidae, commonly known as kingfishers, are strikingly colorful birds found near water bodies worldwide, from tropical jungles to temperate streams. With their sleek bodies and long, sharp bills, they are adept hunters, diving from perches into the water to catch fish, insects, and other aquatic prey. Their vibrant plumage and distinctive calls make them a delight to encounter in their natural habitats, where they play important roles in aquatic ecosystems as top predators.

Overview of Alcedinidae

Kingfishers, ranging from the diminutive dwarf to the sizable kookaburras, inhabit diverse waterside and wooded environments across the globe. While their diets vary, all kingfishers display remarkable hunting skills, adeptly capturing prey with their sizable bills, whether on land or in water. Most species nest in tree hollows or burrows along riverbanks or in termite mounds. Burrow construction typically involves the pair taking turns excavating, often by diving headfirst into the wall to remove earth. Adaptations like the off-axis cam-shaped lens enable aquatic species to swiftly adjust their focus underwater, aiding in prey capture.