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Adored for their bright and beautiful appearance, Oriental dwarf kingfishers are one of the smallest birds among all kingfishers. They are highly territorial when selecting their habitation range. Normally, these territories are located where ample food sources are available. These birds have been attributed other names such as the three-toed kingfisher, the black-backed kingfisher, or even the miniature kingfisher. The species has also been further broken up into three sub-species: Ceyx erithaca erithaca, Ceyx erithaca motleyi, and Ceyx erithaca macrocarus.
Some kingfishers of the species migrate during winter. Some fly off to Malaysia in the months of August and September while some choose to relocate to Fraser's Hill from August to December. Usually, these birds can be found near small streams in densely shaded forests but their habitat comprises a wide range. Males and females of the species do not exhibit sexual dimorphism and, apart from their slightly differentiating weights, males and female of these birds are pretty identical.
An Oriental dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca) is a species of birds categorized under the Alcedinidae family.
The Oriental dwarf kingfisher belongs to the class Aves.
There are no records of the exact number of Oriental dwarf kingfishers existing across the world. However, they are not rare enough to be categorized among vulnerable or threatened species of birds.
Oriental dwarf kingfishers can be found in several parts of the Indian subcontinent as well as southeast Asia. Places like south China, the Indian subcontinent, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Singapore, southeast Asia, Laos, Brunei, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand are all home to the Oriental dwarf kingfisher. India has several wildlife and bird sanctuaries where these birds can be commonly found too. The Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka, Thattekad Bird Sanctuary and Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, and Karnala Bird Sanctuary in Maharashtra are some of the best-known places.
A typical Oriental dwarf kingfisher habitat includes wetlands, mangroves, streams, creeks, and tropical and subtropical lowlands. However, the preferred habitats of the Oriental dwarf kingfisher (also known as the black-backed kingfisher or three-toed kingfisher) are small streams in densely shaded woodlands or forests.
The social behavior of Oriental dwarf kingfishers requires research. Nevertheless, during the breeding period, these kingfishers dwell with their female counterparts. They are otherwise known to be solitary birds.
The average life span of the Oriental dwarf kingfisher is unknown. However, the average life expectancy of kingfishers, in general, is up to 15 years in the wild.
With the beginning of the monsoon season in southwestern parts of India, the breeding period of the Oriental dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca) also begins. Normally, after successful breeding, nests are constructed by both genders. A nest is generally set up in a burrow or a horizontal tunnel. For this, both males and females clear space inside a horizontal tunnel by working alternatively for six to seven days. This requires immense hard labor as the excavations require a lot of force (sometimes even injuring the bird fatally). These kingfishers defend their nests from adversities throughout the breeding season. Both parents engage in incubation which lasts for around 17 days. The average clutch size comprises three to six eggs and fledging occurs within a few weeks, until which both parents take care of the chicks.
The conservation status of the Oriental dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca) according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List is currently Least Concern. Although the bird is plentiful, the population trend of the species has been declining steadily mainly due to a loss of habitat.
This black-backed kingfisher posits a rich, multicolored appearance. Irrespective of gender, these birds possess bluish-black wings and backs, white bellies and throats along with yellow underparts. Their beaks, legs, and feet are a shade of dark red while their tails and crowns are lilac-rufous.
With their spectacular combination of bright colors, Oriental dwarf kingfishers have a refreshing appearance. Anyone who has looked at any Oriental dwarf kingfisher images or even been lucky enough to see them in real life will agree that they are a visual treat for any bird lover.
Kingfishers communicate with a wide range of calls. Vocalizations include chuckles, clicks, chirps, rattles, shrieks, whistles, and screams. These vocalizations are used to interact with their chicks, their mating partners, or other birds in the vicinity. They utter a 'tjie-tjie-tjie' (during flight) or 'tsriet-tsriet' sound too. They can let out loud high-pitched notes that are unpleasant to the ears.
The average length of the Oriental dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca) falls in the range of about 5-5.5 in (12.7-14 cm). As the name of the species suggests, they possess a dwarf-like small size when compared to other kingfishers. Compared to the belted kingfisher, the Oriental dwarf kingfisher (also known as the black-backed kingfisher) is quite small, as the belted kingfisher has a length of 11-13.8 in (28-35 cm).
The species is well known for its swiftness and agility especially while hunting down prey. Their diving speed while catching prey has been estimated at approximately 25 mph (40.2 kph). This fast flight speed makes it hard to spot the Oriental dwarf kingfisher flying! These birds have an upper elevation limit of 4265 ft (1300 m).
The average weight of an Oriental dwarf kingfisher is recorded to be between 0.5-0.7 oz (14-20g). The weight of males is comparatively greater than that of females.
Neither male nor female kingfishers have a specific name.
A baby Oriental dwarf kingfisher is called a nestling, hatchling, or chick.
Oriental dwarf kingfishers are carnivorous, rather than omnivorous or herbivorous. The diet of these birds comprises lizards, frogs, crabs, and fish, but they exhibit the tendencies of an insectivore. The Oriental dwarf kingfisher primarily forages for insects such as flies, grasshoppers, beetles, locusts, bees, and others.
Apart from the possibility of contracting diseases or allergies upon interaction with these birds, there is no other threat associated with these kingfishers. Kingfishers are not at all venomous or dangerous.
It is illegal to keep kingfishers as pets so the species is not available in pet stores. These beautiful birds of the wild must not be kept in captivity.
The Oriental dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca) is all about cleanliness! They take a dip in lakes and streams by diving straight into the water and clean their feathers by preening and drying themselves in bright sunlight. They also scrape their beaks against hard surfaces like a branch to keep them in perfect shape.
The South Philippine dwarf kingfisher species has a unique characteristic, owing to which they have gone almost undetected by scientists. They emit a high-pitched call which is almost inaudible.
A total of between 90-120 species of kingfishers have been identified by researchers and ornithologists. The species have been divided into three families: Cerylidae, Alcedinidae, and Halcyonidae.
Kingfishers are not considered to be birds of prey, unlike raptors, hawks, and eagles who are engaged in meat-eating after killing their prey by strangulating them with their talons. This action is not common among kingfishers as they don't use their feet while catching prey. Instead, they use their beaks. However, kingfishers are predators of fish and insects, so they are predators. For catching prey, the Oriental dwarf kingfisher hunts from a suitable perch. Unlike many other kingfishers, these birds prefer insects to fish and, after getting hold of their prey such as a lizard, frog, or other insects, they kill the prey by slapping it against a branch or other hard surface.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Nicobar pigeon facts and Caspian tern facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable oriental dwarf kingfisher coloring pages.
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