admin on August 8th, 2008
Penang, Malaysia

Penang, Malaysia

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Halcyonidae
Genus: Halcyon
Species: H. smyrnensis

Binomial name Halcyon smyrnensis

The White-throated Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis, also known as the White-breasted Kingfisher or Smyrna Kingfisher, is a tree kingfisher which is widely distributed in south Asia from Turkey east to the Philippines. This kingfisher is essentially resident over much of its range, apart from seasonal movements.

Main features: Medium (28cm); throat and breast white, but no white collar; head and rest of underparts chocolate brown. Wings, tail and back turquoise; bill large (6-7cm), red; feet red.

Female: brown parts not so dark.

Juvenile: Duller; bill initially dark; fine dark scallops on white breast; lesser wing-coverts mottled black.

Call: Described as a loud shrill whinnying kek-kek which trails off; a harsh repeated klip; a piercing staccato laugh.

In flight: Blue with wing tips black; white patch at base of primaries;

The first of the alternative English names is to be preferred because the geographical name is too restrictive for this widespread bird, and the easternmost race lacks a white breast.

This is a large kingfisher, 28 cm in length. The adult has a bright blue back, wings and tail. Its head, shoulders, flanks and lower belly are chestnut, and the throat and breast are white.

There are four races differing mainly in plumage shades, but H. s. gularis of the Philippines has only the neck and throat white. The flight of the White-throated Kingfisher is rapid and direct, the short rounded wings whirring. The large bill and legs are bright red.

In flight, large white patches are visible on the blue and black wings. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are a duller version of the adult. The call of this noisy kingfisher is a chuckling chake-ake-ake-ake-ake.

White-throated Kingfisher is a common species of a variety of habitats with some trees, and its range is expanding. It perches conspicuously on wires or other exposed perches within its territory, and is a frequent sight in south Asia. This species mainly hunts large insects, rodents, snakes, fish and frogs. It is reputed to eat tired migratory passerine birds like Chiffchaffs where the opportunity arises.

White-throated Kingfisher has a striking display in which the wings are spread to show the white patches. The nest is a 50cm tunnel in an earth bank. A single clutch of 4-7 round white eggs is typical.

While hunting along the water, they prey on crabs, amphibians (frogs) and reptiles (skinks, lizards). On land, they hunt large insects and arthropods (grasshoppers, beetles, termites, scorpions, centipedes). They beat these against their perch to kill and remove venomous stings. They even take small mammals (rats, mice, voles), snakes up to 65cm long, and nestling birds.

White-throated Kingfishers dive to catch aquatic prey; in shallow water, entering feet-first, in deeper waters, head-first. They can also hover for a short while before plunging in. They also dive into grass and vegetation to catch their prey. Their huge bills come in handy to hammer their prey to death. Swarming termites may also be caught in flight.

Their hunts appear to be more successful in wetlands than on dry land. White-throated Kingfishers hunt alone, but where hunting is good, they may perch as close as 100 m apart without showing much hostility.

Breeding: White-throated Kingfishers breed in Singapore in December-May. Courting White-throated Kingfishers display on a perch as they sing, spreading out their wings to show the white patches. Some perform a courtship flight, flying straight up then spiralling downwards.

White-throated Kingfishers nest in steep earth banks besides roads and stream, and occasionally, termite mounds. They dig out a tunnel about 7 cm wide, 50 cm to nearly 1 m deep ending in a breeding chamber about 20 cm in diameter. During the construction period, the mated pair are very vocal and call and display to each other continuously. 4-7 white eggs are laid. Both parents raise the chicks.

I took that photos when I was in Penang, near by the clock tower.

Source:

Photo Gallery: White-throated Kingfisher