where are kingfisher birds found

Taxonomy, systematics and evolution edit

The Australasian realm is the center of kingfisher diversity; however, the group originated in the Indomalayan region approximately 27 million years ago (Mya), and they invaded the Australasian realm multiple times. [8] From Lower Eocene rocks in Wyoming and Middle Eocene rocks in Germany, which are roughly 30–40 Mya, fossil kingfishers have been described. In Australia’s Miocene rocks, more recent fossil kingfishers have been described (5–25 Mya) Many fossilized birds have been mistakenly identified as kingfishers, such as Halcyornis from Lower Eocene rocks in Kent. Halcyornis was once thought to be a gull, but it is now believed to have belonged to an extinct family. [9].

The Alcedininae subfamily is basal to the other two subfamilies among the three. The few species that are found in the Americas—all of which belong to the subfamily Cerylinae—indicate that there were only two initial colonization events that led to the Western Hemisphere’s sparse representation. The subfamily diverged in the Old World as recently as the Miocene or Pliocene, marking a relatively recent split from the Halcyoninae. [10].

Based on a molecular phylogenetic study that was published in 2017, the cladogram that follows [8].


Ispidina – 2 species

Corythornis – 4 species

Alcedo – 7 species

Ceyx – 21 species


Megaceryle – 4 species

Ceryle – pied kingfisher

Chloroceryle – 4 species


Lacedo – banded kingfisher

Pelargopsis – 3 species

Halcyon – 12 species

Cittura – 2 species (lilac kingfishers)

Tanysiptera – 9 species (paradise kingfishers)

Melidora – hook-billed kingfisher

Dacelo (includes Clytoceyx) – 5 species (kookaburras)

Actenoides (includes Caridonax) – 6 species

Syma – 2 species

Todiramphus – 30 species

Breeding edit

Kingfishers are territorial, some species defending their territories vigorously. While cooperative breeding has been observed in some species and is quite common in others, such as the laughing kookaburra, where helpers assist the dominant breeding pair in raising the young, they are generally monogamous. [17].

The majority of the species of kingfishers nest in holes dug in the ground, but they are also cavity nesters like all Coraciiformes. These holes are typically found on the banks of lakes, rivers, or artificial ditches. Certain species can build their nests in termitariums, holes in trees, or the earth adhering to the roots of uprooted trees. These termite nests are common in forest species. The nests resemble tiny chambers at the end of tunnels. Nest-digging duties are shared between the sexes. The bird may fly at the selected site with significant force during the initial excavations, and birds have killed themselves while doing this. The length of the tunnels varies depending on the species and the area; for example, nests in termitaria must be substantially smaller than those buried in the ground, and nests in harder substrates must be smaller than those in sand or soft soil. The gigantic kingfisher’s eight-foot-long tunnels are the longest ever discovered. 5 m (28 ft) long. [9].

The eggs of kingfishers are invariably white. Each species has a different average clutch size; some very large and small species can lay as few as two eggs in a clutch, while others can lay up to ten; three to six eggs is the average. Both sexes incubate the eggs. The kingfisher’s young typically spend three to four months with their parents. [9].

Status and conservation edit The

Many species are thought to be endangered by human activity and may go extinct. The majority of these are forest species with restricted ranges, especially those found in isolated areas. They are in danger from habitat loss brought on by deforestation or other forest degradation, as well as occasionally from invasive species. The French Polynesian Marquesan kingfisher is classified as critically endangered because of a combination of factors, including habitat degradation and loss brought about by introduced cattle, as well as potential predation by introduced species. [18].


Where do kingfishers live in the United States?

Region and Range Belted Kingfishers are found near both inland and coastal waterways throughout North America. Northern populations move south in winter to more temperate regions, following major bodies of water as they migrate.

Where can I find kingfisher birds?

They can be found in deep forests near calm ponds and small rivers. The family contains 116 species and is divided into three subfamilies and 19 genera. All kingfishers have large heads, long, sharp, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails.

Where are common kingfishers found?

The common kingfisher is widely distributed over Europe, Asia, and North Africa, mainly south of 60°N. It is a common breeding species over much of its vast Eurasian range, but in North Africa it is mainly a winter visitor, although it is a scarce breeding resident in coastal Morocco and Tunisia.

Is it rare to see a kingfisher?

Kingfishers are widespread, except for northern Scotland. Choose from our list of locations below, or for an almost guaranteed sighting, head to Lackford Lakes in Suffolk, often from the visitor centre as you enjoy a coffee or ice cream.