The Kingfishers of India

Kingfishers are striking birds, and their robustness in adapting has ensured that they have spread to every continent on the planet, except for Antarctica.

The original blue colour is the most frequent association, however, they come in different forms and sizes, and are spread across various habitats across the world.

Contrary to popular belief, they do not only survive around water bodies and feed on fish, but they can also live in woodlands and around agricultural areas, feeding on different types of invertebrates.

One of the most interesting things about the Kingfisher is their adaptations, we take a look at some of them.

Species of Kingfishers in the World : 87

Species of Kingfishers in India : 12

Adaptations of the Kingfisher :

  • An adaptation in their lenses allows them to pinpoint prey even underwater, judging the accuracy of depth despite the refraction of light.
  • A sliver of membrane slides across its eyes as it dives in, thereby avoiding water entering their eyes. It is called the nictitating membrane.
  • With fish, Kingfishers beat their prey against their nearest branch or roosting area to shatter the bones. Fish is swallowed head-first, bones curved away, to prevent them from being hurt due to it.
  • The shape of the sharp beak and head are aerodynamically perfect, helping them dive quicker with greater accuracy. In fact, the inspiration behind the aerodynamic design of the “Bullet Train” has been inspired by the motion and natural engineering of the Kingfisher.

Tree Kingfishers

  • The most abundant among the family, they are medium to large in size (a useful pointer to remember incase ever, you want to get his highness a t-shirt)
  • They feed on small vertebrates and insects.
  • They dress colorful with bright blues and browns.
  • Most of them have red bills suggesting a diet other than fish.
  • Their rule extends over the tropical forests and open woodlands.

River Kingfishers

  • Our most popular king belongs to this sub family, the common kingfisher. You may have seen his picture during your interactions with the humans. They often drink something with his picture on it, and then act funny.
  • They are relatively small and medium in size. No less brightly colored than the tree kingfishers, they eat fish and also other prey (insects). Black bills suggest a fish diet.

Water Kingfishers

  • The rare and the specialist, these are fewest among the family members.
  • With a very niche diet choice, they only feed on fish.
  • The members ruling areas in India are colored like a chessboard. We will need their strategic input to win.

Best places to see Kingfishers in India

Collared Kingfisher

Brown-winged Kingfisher

Stork-billed Kingfisher

Black-capped Kingfisher

Ruddy Kingfisher

White- Throated Kingfisher

Common Kingfisher

Blue-eared Kingfisher

Blyth’s Kingfisher

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

Crested Kingfisher