Monday, September 27, 2010

ABC Wednesday: K is for Kingfisher

Kingfishers are a family of birds with about 90 species. All of them have a large bill and will hunt by sitting on a branch somewhere and wait for prey to walk or swim by.

A Laughing Kookaburra, they are the biggest kingfishers and will take on prey such as snakes much bigger than they are. They also feed on small rodents, lizards and invertebrates.
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Listen to a Kookaburra laughing here - often one will start and then the whole family group will join in, as well as any other family within earshot, it's a way to mark their territory. There's a myth that says that it's the kookaburra's job to wake all the other animals at dawn and they do laugh when the sun rises.
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A Blue-Winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii) - it's a male since he has a bright blue tail, females have reddish tail feathers. They are native to parts of Australia and to New Guinea. A breeding pair will have a number of related helper birds that will assist with feeding and guarding the chicks. There are a number of bird species who live that way, it increases the chances of survival for the chicks and since all the birds are related, all of them pass on at least part of their genes.

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A Brown-hooded Kingfisher (Halcyon albiventris), a species native to Southern Africa. They hunt by sitting on a branch over a lake or river and when they see a fish, they plummet into the water and spear it with their beak - even taking into account the refraction of light (try grabbing something underwater while you're looking at the surface, it's not easy). Many kingfishers will hunt like that, in Europe you may be lucky enough to see a Common Kingfisher, despite their name they are rare due to loss of habitat. They need sandy riverbanks to build their nests in, a long tunnel (despite being not at all equipped for digging). And if you think that bird is colourful, look at this Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher native to Asia.
Here's another Brown-Hooded Kingfisher waiting for prey, sitting over the crocodile enclosure at Hagenbecks Tierark, where many tropical fish are co-housed with the crocodiles. If you're lucky, you actually get to see the kingfisher catch a fish.
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Photos taken at Vogelpark Walsrode (Laughing Kookaburra), Frankfurt Zoo (Blue-Winged Kookoburra) and Hagenbecks Tierpark (Brown-hooded Kingfisher).
See what else K stands for over at ABC Wednesday

22 comments:

Misfit in Paradise said...

I love to watch the Kingfishers at the creek across the road from my house. Thanks for sharing with us.
Donna - ABC Wednesday

Leo said...

lovely photos and informative post.. you rock again with the series, Ook :D

Mine Is Here

Sylvia K said...

Lovely birds, great photos and a really interesting post for the K Day! Hope you're enjoying a great week!

Sylvia

photowannabe said...

Didn't know that the Kookabara was in the kingfisher family. Love the close ups that show their fluffy feathers.

Nanka said...

Love those beautiful birds!! :) Great post on Kookaburra.

Rumya said...

Lovely and informative post on the Kookaburra accompanied with great pictures. :) Incidentally my post is a small Haiku on the sacred Kingfisher.

Carver said...

Wonderful shots of the beautiful birds and great information too. Excellent post for the letter K.

RuneE said...

These would beat our local sparrows any day :-)

Thank you for sharing!

♥♥ Willa ♥♥ said...

Look at those sharp beak!

thanks for visiting my ABC Wednesday

Leslie: said...

Great shots and commentary on a beautiful bird! Have a great week. :D

Roger Owen Green said...

What's that song? "Laugh kookaburra, laugh kookaburra, Gay your life must be!"

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Gramma Ann said...

Never heard the song Roger Green, but it sounds like a fun song.

I love the pictures of the birds and the wonderful information you included as well.

MorningAJ said...

LOVELY pictures!

Shigune Matsui said...

The smaller ones that you posted look very cute!!!

Mara said...

I see those signs for Walsrode quite often on my way to Bergen Hohne and I have the feeling I should make a detour one day. Now if I can just get my boss to okay this...

Paula Scott said...

I love these birds! Even more exciting when you see them in their natural habitat. Lovely post!

EG Wow said...

Hey! I did kingfishers too! :) But not the Kookaburra. The sound really KOOL.

LivingSoAbundantly said...

Love it! :)

Tumblewords: said...

Oh, so very interesting. I've heard of these but have never been up close and personal - thanks for the narrative and the fantastic photos!

Wanda said...

I get to travel the world with you each week with our ABC and I loving all the new animals and birds I'm meeting....

Great post!

Gerald (Ackworth born) said...

we sometimes see kingfishers but these big birds are just as lovely.

Edelweisspirat said...

Laughing Jackass...very nice birds! I have seen one of it last month in Cologne...It was part of a flying show (is this the correct word?)