Fun Sacred Kingfisher Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
Feb 29, 2024 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
One of the interesting sacred kingfisher facts is that in Polynesian culture, it is believed to have power over the ocean waves.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.9 Min

The sacred kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) is a medium-sized kingfisher bird found near woods and swamps in the forests of Australia, New Zealand, and nearby islands. The sacred kingfisher derives its name from Polynesian culture, where it is considered to hold power over the waves. This bird's nesting takes place in a termite mound, in hollow branches on trees, or even on the ground. They are known for being efficient predators, swooping down on prey with their strong beaks. But they are even better known for being strikingly beautiful and easily recognizable birds. Their bodies are adorned with beautiful turquoise, blue, green, buff, white, and black colors, with a bill that is about 1.8 in (4.6 cm) long. They prefer feeding on insects and occasionally also eat fish. Sacred kingfishers mate for life but the pair only get together for the breeding season when two broods are laid, each in clutches of three to six eggs. Both the sexes incubate the eggs. The population of the sacred kingfisher is not under threat, in fact, it is increasing, hence they are classified as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN.

Learn more about some other birds including the hawk or the kakapo here.

Sacred Kingfisher Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a sacred kingfisher?

The sacred kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) is a bird.

What class of animal does a sacred kingfisher belong to?

The Todiramphus sanctus (sacred kingfisher) belongs to the bird (Aves) class of animals.

How many sacred kingfishers are there in the world?

Scared kingfishers are abundant in the regions of Australia and New Zealand, with there being about 10 million individuals existing in Australia itself.

Where does a sacred kingfisher live?

Sacred kingfishers prefer to live in woodlands and shrublands near water bodies and swamps in the forests of Australia and New Zealand.

What is a sacred kingfisher's habitat?

A typical sacred kingfisher habitat is found near water and wood, usually along a river-bank or coastal area. This bird is prevalent mostly throughout Australia where it inhabits open eucalypt forests, mangroves, melaleuca swamps, mudflats, and acacia scrubs. In winter, their habitat changes to their northern Australian range, Borneo, Sumatra, New Guinea, and other islands, living in savannahs, gardens, parklands, and even near roadside woods. Springs is spent in the south, breeding. Its nest is a termite mound, a burrow close to the river-bank, or the hollowed branches on trees. Both sexes build their nest chamber together at 65.6 ft (20 m) from the ground.

Who does a sacred kingfisher live with?

Sacred kingfishers live alone or in pairs. They are monogamous and mate for life, but meet only for the breeding season.

How long does a sacred kingfisher live?

In captivity, sacred kingfishers live for between seven and 10 years, but they may live even longer in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

Sacred kingfishers reproduce by mating and laying between three and six eggs at a time in a nest, usually twice in a breeding season. The incubation of these laid eggs lasts for 17-18 days and the young birds fledge after about 24 days.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the sacred kingfisher according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature is Least Concern.

Sacred Kingfisher Fun Facts

What do sacred kingfishers look like?

Sacred kingfisher birds are 7.9–9.1 in (20-23 cm) long, and they have a wingspan of 11.5-13.5 in (29-35 cm). The tail and the rump of the sacred kingfisher are blue. Also, it has white underparts with shades of buff. The lores are buff as well. The plumage on its back is turquoise or turquoise-green, and its collar is cream. It has a black stripe around its black eye that extends to its 1.8 in (4.6 cm) long bill. The feet of the sacred kingfisher are rather short. This species displays little sexual dimorphism, meaning both sexes are similar in their looks except that the female is slightly duller and lighter. Young birds resemble the females but have more rusty-brown and buff colors on their bodies.

Sacred kingfishers have strong bills that measure up to 1.8 in (4.6 cm) long.

How cute are they?

Sacred kingfishers are some of the cutest birds in nature. They are very easily recognizable in their natural habitats in Australia and New Zealand. Their beautiful bright, turquoise, and cream colors lend them a majestic appearance. This bird is a medium-sized kingfisher but has a prominent, strong black bill that adds to its beauty. Another thing that's endearing about them is that they mate for life, even if they may meet only during the breeding season.

How do they communicate?

Sacred kingfishers communicate via loud and repetitive 'ek ek ek' calls. Also, when excited, they give out 'kee kee kee' calls, and when alarmed, they produce calls that have a bunch of scolding notes.

How big is a sacred kingfisher?

A sacred kingfisher is 7.9–9.1 in (20-23 cm) in length, with a wingspan of 11.5-13.5 in (29-35 cm), which makes it three to five times bigger than the bee hummingbird.

How fast can a sacred kingfisher move?

A sacred kingfisher bird may fly up to speeds of 25 mph (40 kph). Although, when swooping down on its prey or making a tunnel hole for its nest, its flight is even faster.

How much does a sacred kingfisher weigh?

A scared kingfisher bird may weigh anywhere between 1–2 oz (28-56 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male and female birds of the sacred kingfisher species are not commonly referred to by any specific names.

What would you call a baby sacred kingfisher?

The babies and the young of a sacred kingfisher are called 'chicks'.

What do they eat?

Sacred kingfishers eat a variety of food including insects, spiders, small crustaceans, frogs, reptiles, and small rodents. They occasionally feed on fish.

Are they poisonous?

No, sacred kingfisher birds are not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

No, sacred kingfishers would not make good pets. They are a wild and territorial bird species, that cannot and should be attempted to be tamed.

Did you know...

The end of the breeding season in southern Australia marks the beginning of this bird's migration to New Guinea. During the winter migration, they live in coastal regions. They also sometimes prefer coastal regions for breeding and nesting, such as in New South Wales of Australia.

The black eye of the sacred kingfisher is very efficient at spotting prey from high above, as high as 300 ft (90 m) from the ground!

Chicks and young birds are incubated by both sexes (more by the female) before birth and fed by both (more by the male) after birth. Nesting duties are divided between the pair. The male and female are both responsible for building the nest, but when it comes to feeding the male is more responsible than the female for gathering prey and food for the young during the breeding season.

Apart from Australia and New Zealand, the sacred kingfisher range also includes Lord Howe Island, New Guinea, Norfolk Island, Indonesia, the Kermadec Islands, Melanesia, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, and Sumatra Island.

A sacred kingfisher hunting for fish is quite a sight to see, it catches the fish in its bill, right from the water, making a big splash!

The breeding season for the sacred kingfisher usually begins in September or October and goes up till January or March. Either way, they will build their nests in October. Breeding and nesting may only occasionally run up until March. The pair only stays together until March if the weather favors it, or else the season ends in January.

How high can they fly?

A sacred kingfisher builds its nest chamber 65 ft (20 m) above the ground and is known to spot prey from close to 300 ft (90 m) away, which is characteristic of most birds outside of migrating season. During the winter migration, a sacred kingfisher may climb upwards of 2,000 ft (600 m).

Are they predators?

Yes, sacred kingfishers are predators and very efficient ones at that. This species preys on many different types of animals for food such as insects, spiders, small crustaceans, frogs, reptiles, small rodents, fish, and larvae. The way these birds prey is that they sit on a branch and wait until suitable prey passes by. The bird then swoops down, catching the prey in its strong bill, and carrying it back to its nest or perch to eat in peace. These birds sally-pounce, or sally-strike, terms which respectively mean they either land briefly before catching the prey or they hover before striking. Then, they either beat the prey or swallow it.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our parrot facts and eagle facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable kingfisher coloring pages.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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