Halcyon smyrnensis

Written by on November 19, 2010 in Indonesia Bird with 0 Comments

Halcyon smyrnensis, White-throated Kingfisher, Cekakak belukar

They make their presence known by their loud calls. They are often siHalcyon-smyrnensis, White-throated Kingfisherghted in rural areas, perching on telephone wires or other vantage points (8-10 m up).

White-throated Kingfishers as a group eat a wide range of food, but each bird may specialise in a particular prey. They take fish (particularly during the wet season). But other prey make up the bulk of their diet. These include tadpoles, grasshoppers, lizards, insects. They basically take any small creature that they can catch and kill.

While hunting along the water, they prey on crabs, amphibians (frogs) and reptiles (skinks, lizards). On land, they hunt large insects and arthropods (grasshoppers, beetles, termites, scorpions, centipedes). They beat these against their perch to kill and remove venomous stings. They even take small mammals (rats, mice, voles), snakes up to 65cm long, and nestling birds.

White-throated Kingfishers dive to catch aquatic prey; in shallow water, entering feet-first, in deeper waters, head-first. They can also hover for a short while before plunging in. They also dive into grass and vegetation to catch their prey. Their huge bills come in handy to hammer their prey to death. Swarming termites may also be caught in flight.

Their hunts appear to be more successful in wetlands than on dry land. White-throated Kingfishers hunt alone, but where hunting is good, they may perch as close as 100 m apart without showing much hostility.

Breeding: White-throated Kingfishers breed in Singapore in December-May. Courting White-throated Kingfishers display on a perch as they sing, spreading out their wings to show the white patches. Some perform a courtship flight, flying straight up then spiralling downwards.

White-throated Kingfishers nest in steep earth banks besides roads and stream, and occasionally, termite mounds. They dig out a tunnel about 7 cm wide, 50 cm to nearly 1 m deep ending in a breeding chamber about 20 cm in diameter. During the construction period, the mated pair are very vocal and call and display to each other continuously. 4-7 white eggs are laid. Both parents raise the chicks.

For more about the hunting methods and breeding habits of Kingfishers in general.

Migration: White-throated Kingfishers in Singapore are resident. Elsewhere they migrate, but within their breeding range.

They are found everywhere, not necessarily near water. Besides ponds, reservoirs, and coastal areas, they are also found in forest edges, scrub, open woodlands, gardens and rural/suburban areas.

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