Kingfishers got their generic name as a reference to the mythological sea bird of ancient Greece- Halcyon. They are considered as a symbol of peace and goodness. These kingfishers are in the order Coraciiformes, which includes other birds such as rollers and motmots. The Alcedinidae was introduced in 1815 by Constantine Samuel Rafinesque, a French zoologist, and polymath. This family was further divided into three subfamilies- the tree kingfishers, the river kingfishers, and the water kingfishers. This article will tell you everything you need to know about a special kingfisher from Australia, including details about its habitat, feeding, breeding, and nesting habits!
The azure kingfisher is a small kingfisher belonging to the Alcedinidae family and is the genus of Ceyx. Its scientific name, Ceyx azureus, was given to the species by John Latham, an English naturalist in 1801. They are also known as Alcedo azurea. The azure kingfisher (Ceyx azureus) is a beautiful and brightly colored bird that gets its name from its good-looking dark blue and glossy violet sheen. This small kingfisher is native to Australia. Azure kingfishers are shy and do not interact with humans a lot, but they have a great impact on many cultures because of their brightly colored and fascinating plumage, strong head supporting their long slender black bill, and the species enthralling behavior.
The azure kingfisher is a bird belonging to the Animalia kingdom.
What class of animal does an azure kingfisher belong to?
The azure kingfisher belongs to the Aves class, the order Coraciiformes, and the phylum Chordata. Other birds in the same order include rollers and motmots
How many azure kingfishers are there in the world?
The accurate population size of the species is unknown. However, these Australian birds are found in plentiful numbers across their range.
Where does an azure kingfisher live?
The azure kingfisher (Alcedo azurea) has an extensive range. It can be found near riverbanks, swamps, or lakes. The range map of this bird includes Eastern and Northern Australia, North Maluku, Moluccas, and Tasmania.
What is an azure kingfisher's habitat?
The azure kingfisher habitat includes rainforests, lakes, swamps, mangroves, rivers, streams, tidal estuaries, lagoons, waterways, and several other water bodies. This species usually perch on low, overhanging branches above streams and rivers. These birds are common in the northern region of their range, which is why they are uncommon in the southern parts. They are generally stationary, however, seasonal migration may occur among some. Azure kingfisher nests in a burrow dug out of soil beside a lake or near a riverbank. The Daintree Rainforest, in Australia, is inhabited by numerous azure kingfishers, they are also often spotted at parks, man-made fish ponds, and other urban areas.
Who do azure kingfishers live with?
Most kingfisher species are solitary including the azure kingfisher bird, they live alone and pair up only during the mating or breeding season.
How long does an azure kingfisher live?
The azure kingfisher (Alcedo azurea) lives for 6-14 years.
How do they reproduce?
Azure kingfishers are monogamous, meaning they mate with only one partner during the breeding season. The breeding season begins early September and ends in April for azure kingfishers breeding in Northern and Eastern Australia. Azure kingfishers build their nests inside a tunnel or a burrow dug near a riverbank. Nests are built by both males and females sometime before the breeding season begins. Digging the soil to build a deep tunnel for their nest takes about four to eight days. These burrows are approximately 31-50 in (80-129 cm) deep. Kingfisher nests that are not deep enough are washed away by floods or attacked and destroyed by predatory snakes, like the eastern brown snake. After mating, an azure kingfisher female bird lays about five or seven glossy-white eggs in the nesting chamber, these eggs are then incubated by both parents for a total of three or four weeks. The young hatchlings are altricial and need constant care. Therefore, they are fed and looked after for an additional four or five weeks by both parents. The juveniles fledge after five weeks, becoming independent and feed themselves by hunting!
What is their conservation status?
The IUNC Red List of Threatened Species has classified the azure kingfisher (Alcedo azurea) as a species of Least Concern.
Azure Kingfisher Fun Facts
What do azure kingfishers look like?
This Australian bird has a colorful, bright, and vivid plumage. The azure kingfisher (Alcedo azurea) is a small kingfisher, the upper parts of the body are covered in deep azure blue mixed with a soft wash of violet, the head supports the long slender black bill, the neck and throat display large white spots, whereas the breast and flanks have blue-violet streaks, both sides of the neck fashion a bright orange stripe, before each eye there is a tiny orange spot, and the area between the eyes and the bill has large white almond-shaped spots, the throat is pale white, grading to bright orange on the belly and undertail. It has a short tail, and the feet are bright coral orange-red, with two forward toes. Both sexes look similar, but juveniles have a more faded and less vibrant plumage.
How cute are they?
They are very cute with their bright blue and orange colors, short tail, and small size. Their enthralling behavior only adds to their cuteness!
How do they communicate?
The azure kingfisher is generally quiet or silent but occasionally communicates with other birds via vocalizations. During the breeding season, the azure kingfisher call is a high-pitched and sharp sound 'pseet-pseet' is made by them often in flight, to find or locate their partners. While hunting near a river or diving to catch a fish they make another high-pitched call 'seeeeeeep' when they are a few meters above the water. They often bob their head and flap their wings in anticipation of sighting a fish.
How big is an azure kingfisher?
An adult azure kingfisher's size is 6.7–7.5 in (17–19 cm). Males are slightly larger than females.
Flamingos are nearly seven times the size of an azure kingfisher.
How fast can an azure kingfisher fly?
An azure kingfisher fly can fly up to 20-25 mph (32.1-40.2 kph).
How much does an azure kingfisher weigh?
An azure kingfisher weighs about 1-1.2 oz (29-35 g). Males are heavier than females.
What are the male and female names of the species?
These birds do not have specific names for their male and female species. They are simply denoted as males and females.
What would you call a baby azure kingfisher?
Just like any other bird, a baby azure is called a chick.
What do they eat?
The azure kingfisher's diet includes small fish that are up to 0.9 in (23 mm) in sizes, such as shrimp, and freshwater yabbies, water beetles, locusts, tadpoles or small frogs, spiders. They hunt just like the other kingfishers by searching the water for prey, they dive into rivers and streams swiftly, which makes them very difficult to spot until they dart from a perch overhanging above water. They are skilled divers and can dive deep to catch their prey. They either stab or hold their prey in their mouth depending on its size. They bash the fish against the perch or ground to break its bones and then swallow the whole fish from its head. They are active mostly during the morning or evening, to avoid the hot afternoon sun. They often have trouble hunting as other birds such as the European carp compete with them for food resources. The chicks are helpless when they are born, and require constant feeding and care. Thus, the parents bring food to their tunnel or nesting chamber to feed the young ones.
Black rat snakes often attack their nests and feed on the eggs or young hatchlings.
Are they poisonous?
No, they are not poisonous.
Would they make a good pet?
No, they would not make good pets as they are wild birds. They should be left in the wild to live freely and with others of their kind.
Did you know...
Transparent membranes on their eyes protect them when they dive to hunt.
This Australian bird can dive so quickly that it can cut through the ice patch on a frozen lake to catch a fish.
What is special about the kingfisher bird?
The combination of royal-blue plumage on its upper parts contrasting with orange on its underparts makes the azure kingfisher one of the smallest and most dazzling Australian birds. It is also said to be the first bird to fly from Noah's ark after the flood, supposedly receiving the orange of the setting sun on its breast and the blue of the sky on its back. It was considered a symbol of peace, promising prosperity and love.
Are azure kingfishers endangered?
They are classified as species of Least Concern by the IUNC Red List of Threatened Species. However, their numbers have been decreasing in the last few years and the population size is struggling to recover, this has happened due to various human and natural actions that have caused damage to their natural habitat and affected their lifestyle, including artificial flooding of waterways, predatory animals that steal the content of their nest, and other animals that compete against them for food resources.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our Australian pelican facts and reddish egret facts pages.
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