Tuesday, December 1, 2015


There are nearly 10,000 different species of birds on our planet. They are capable of flying across vast expanses of ocean and have managed to colonize all of the world’s surfaces except for the most desolate. I am sure you have your favorites, and I have mine. We can do a blog post once a week for a very long time and still not be able to talk about all the birds of the world. So this week I thought we would focus on a very interesting species of bird, which comprises just a small percentage of all birds. Meet the Kingfisher.

Common Kingfisher
Photo credit: Andreas Trepte, www.photo-natur.de

The Common Kingfisher is also known as the River Kingfisher and the Eurasian Kingfisher. This is a sparrow-sized bird, with a large head, large beak, and a short tail.

There are ninety different species of Kingfisher. Some of them are endangered. A few are critically endangered. We can break them down into three groups, the river kingfishers, the water kingfishers, and the tree kingfishers.

“The smallest species of kingfisher is the African Dwarf Kingfisher, which gets to an average of .4 ounce in weight and just 4 inches in length. The largest kingfisher species is the Giant Kingfisher, which gets to an average of 13.5 ounces and grows to 18 inches.” (a-z-animals.com)

African Dwarf Kingfisher

Photo credit: Photo by Marc Guyt

Giant Kingfisher
Photo credit: Gerrie van Vuuren

Kingfishers are a carnivorous bird, dining on fish, frogs and insects. They have also been known to eat reptiles, birds and even small mammals.

Meet the Tuamoto Kingfisher. It is a very interesting kingfisher with unusual coloring, and it is critically endangered. It is endemic to the island of Niau in French Polynesia.

Tuamoto Kingfisher

Here’s a map that will show you where French Polynesia is located.

Meet the Guam Kingfisher. 

We have mentioned in previous blog posts that people have a very big impact on the environment. The story of the critically endangered Guam Kingfisher is clearly another example of how careless we can be, and how what we do affects life on this planet. Although the Guam Kingfisher was never widespread, limited to the island of Guam, it was doing just fine until we showed up during World War II when we established a military base on the island. A lot of equipment was brought onto the island, and something else arrived with us, the brown tree snake. Unfortunately for the Guam Kingfisher, this snake dines exclusively on birds. As a result, the bird population on Guam was devastated. The US government is currently trying their best to save the Guam Kingfisher from extinction. A very aggressive breeding program is taking place in several zoos across the US, and removal of the brown tree snake from the island of Guam is ongoing. With a population of less than 150 individuals, this program is critical, and will hopefully be successful.   

The Guam Kingfisher 
Illustration credit:  USGS (United States Geological Service)

We are going to mention one more kingfisher, and it’s my favorite; the Kookaburra. Yes, the Kookaburra is a member of the kingfisher family.

The Kookaburra
Young Kookaburra (Photo credit: Author’s collection

The above picture was taken at the Alice Springs Desert Park while I was vacationing in and researching the animals of Australia. Although it is considered a bit of a pest, the Australians are, nevertheless, very proud of their Kookaburra and they have enacted laws to project it. It is an iconic symbol of the country and is, I am happy to say, not endangered.

Photo credit: http://arkive.org

Their call is referred to as a ‘laugh,’ and this video will explain why.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief look at the Kingfisher, and that you have learned something today. Perhaps you’ll be tempted to look up a few other kingfishers yourself. Thank you for stopping by and please feel free to leave a comment and to share my post.


Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!

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