SPECIES: Pelargopsis capensis
IUCN REDLIST: LEAST CONCERN
The Stork-billed kingfisher has a large distribution that covers the vast majority of Asia, from countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. In order to fish, they are generally seen in lowland forests, by the edges of rivers, streams, canals and large lakes.
Compared to other kingfishers, the Stork-billed kingfisher is one of the largest species around 35cm in length. They are very colourful and have green feathers on their back, blue wings and tail, and a grey head. The bill is very large and bright red. There is no sexual diamorphism (body shape or colour difference between males and females) in this species.
Stork-billed kingfishers live in a family with an average of 6 members. They are fiercely territorial and have been known to chase away much bigger animals such as eagles. To aid fishing, kingfishers have the ability to hover in one spot over the water, then swoop down to pluck fish from the water. They also have a distinct ‘ke-ke-ke’ call. As predators the stork-billed kingfisher lives on freshwater fish and crustaceans (can also eat frogs and small rodents).
Stork-billed Kingfishers are known to make their nests near a river bank or in a decaying tree by digging a hole. Termite nests are also sometimes used. During every breeding season, which takes place from January to May, a clutch of 2-5 eggs is generally produced and live around 2 years in the wild.
ECOSYSTEM ROLE & HUMAN BENEFITS
Stork-billed kingfishers are important in controlling fish populations, and also has an impact on other small terrestrial species. Their role prevents fish populations becoming too high and causing a trophic cascade (which is where due to the kingfishers absence, local fish species increase and deplete their food source, so eventually have no food themselves). They also serve as prey to larger birds. Their presence is beneficial to ecotourism with their bright colouration bird specialists and watchers may come far and wide to see birds such as the stork-billed kingfisher in it’s natural habitat.
Their forest habitat and need for water to hunt makes them vulnerable to development, deforestation and water pollution. Sadly such events occur on the island but not to the extent it is affecting their population.
When other food sources are scarce, this species hunts smaller birds and chicks to fulfill their hunger, which highlights their range of skills to be able to hunt both aquatic and terrestrial prey.
** This data set was written by David Stanley of Bournemouth University, England and edited by Stephanie Young**
***Identification of these species has been made through, photographic documentation cross referenced with external specialists and identification books. Any errors in our database will be rectified upon notification, if you feel that we have misidentified any species please help us to improve our research through our contact us page. All people involved will be acknowledge in the website and reports***
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