Bio Facts: Kingfisher, White-collared
American Samoa, Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Eritrea, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Federated States of Micronesia, Myanmar, Northern Mariana Islands, Oman, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu, and Viet Nam; it is a vagrant China, Christmas Island, Hong Kong, Japan, Somalia, and the Sudan
Coastal regions, mangrove swamps, farmland, open woodland, grassland and gardens
Adult length: 8.7 – 11.4 in (22 - 29 cm); adult weight: 1.8 – 3.17 oz (51 - 90 g); coloration: varies from blue to green above with underparts white or buff and a white collar around the neck. Some races have a white or buff stripe over the eye while others have a white spot between the eye and bill. There may be a black stripe through the eye. The large bill is black with a pale yellow base to the lower mandible. Females tend to be greener than the males. Immature birds are duller than the adults with dark scaly markings on the neck and breast. Appearance: short-tailed large-headed compact birds with long pointed bills.
In the wild, up to 11 years
In the wild, they eat small crabs, insects, worms, snails, shrimps, frogs, lizards and small fish; in the Zoo, they are fed worms, crickets, fish and ground meat.
IUCN – Least Concern
The white-collared kingfisher has a variety of calls that vary geographically. The most typical call is loud, harsh and metallic and is repeated several times.
It perches almost motionless for long periods waiting for prey. When it spots something it dives down to catch it and then flies back to the perch where they beat larger prey on the perch in order to kill it and/or to dislodge or break protective spines and bones. Having beaten the prey it is manipulated and then swallowed. Any indigestible remains are regurgitated as pellets.
With the timing of breeding varying across the species’ range, the collared kingfisher commences courtship by chasing a potential mate, before the male offers the female a fish, with both birds then extending their wings to cement the pair bond. Breeding birds nest as solitary pairs, excavating a nest in an old tree trunk, termite nest, earthen bank or an old woodpecker hole, with a territory aggressively defended around the nest site. A clutch of two to five eggs is laid and immediately incubated by the female, with the male later taking over the incubating duties. Egg laying is staggered at one-day intervals so that if food is short only the older larger nestlings get fed. The chicks are naked, blind and helpless when they hatch, and stand on their heels. The chicks fledge after 29 or 30 days.
Kingfishers have a long, dagger-like bill. The bill is usually longer and more compressed in species that hunt fish, and shorter and broader in species that hunt prey off the ground. They have excellent vision and are capable of binocular vision. They are thought in particular to have good color vision. Their eye movements are restricted within the eye sockets, so they use head movements to track prey. In addition they are able to compensate for the refraction of water and reflection when hunting prey underwater, and are able to judge depth underwater accurately. They also have nictitating membranes that cover the eyes when they hit the water in order to protect them.
The etymology of kingfisher is obscure; the term comes from king’s fisher, but why that name was applied is not known.
Ovid and Hyginus both also make the metamorphosis the origin of the etymology for “halcyon days”, the seven days in winter when storms never occur. They state that these were originally the seven days each year (either side of the shortest day of the year) during which Alcyone (as a kingfisher) laid her eggs and made her nest on the beach and during which her father Aeolus, god of the winds, restrained the winds and calmed the waves so she could do so in safety. The phrase has since become a term used to describe a peaceful time generally.
Although common, widespread and not currently at risk of extinction, in parts of its range the collared kingfisher is threatened by habitat loss, particularly from the conversion of mangroves. In Australia, mangroves are destroyed for tourist, residential and infrastructure developments resulting in the loss of the collared kingfisher’s foraging and nesting habitat. On some small islands where the species exists in small populations, the effects of habitat loss are exacerbated by the adverse effects of a small population, such as vulnerability to disease and severe weather events. The collared kingfisher is also threatened by the pollution of estuaries and the accumulation of pesticides in its environment. On Sarigan, in the western Pacific Ocean, feral cats and rats predate a number of native bird species, possibly including the collared kingfisher, and introduced goats and pigs have cleared virtually all of the lower vegetation on the island.
A conservation priority for the collared kingfisher is the protection of mangrove habitat from clearing and disturbance and avoiding the use of herbicides and pesticides near watercourses that may be inhabited by the species. Preserving older stands of mangrove is paramount as they tend to offer better nesting habitat, but where nesting opportunities are limited, setting up nest-boxes many also benefit the species.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion. Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion. The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion. For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern on IUCN.
Jacksonville Zoo History:
We have had one or more white-collared kingfishers in our animal collection since 1995.