Kingfishers and Allies

The first gallery features three kingfisher subfamilies comprising Tree (Halcyoninae), River (Alcedininae), and Water (Cerylinae) that belong to the Kingfisher (Alcedinidae) family, see Taxonomy note at the end of this page. I photographed these in woodland, tropical forest, garden, swamp, and lake habitat. The second gallery displays images of the Bee-eaters (Meropidae), Rollers (Coraciidae) and Hornbills (Bucerotidae) families. These Kingfisher allies and Hornbills mainly inhabit forests.

Two additional galleries display behaviours such as feeding and hunting. The first of these features Tree (Halcyoninae) and River (Alcedinidae) Kingfishers while the second display images of Kingfisher allies.


Kingfisher Notes

All kingfisher species featured in the gallery are ‘Red List 2019’ assessed as ‘Least Concern’. I’ve photographed these species in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Trinidad.

The Kingfishers (Alcedinidae) family is one of my favourite cosmopolitan bird species to photograph. Singapore has five tree and three river kingfisher species. I now photographed four tree and two river kingfisher species.

Australia has thirteen kingfisher species, although three species are rare or accidental.  The gallery features three tree kingfishers: a Laughing and a Blue-winged Kookaburra together with a Forest Kingfisher. Only the Laughing Kookaburra is endemic to Australia. Along with Azure and Little Kingfishers from the river kingfisher family that I photographed in the Northern Territories. The gallery also includes two images of water (Cerylinae) Kingfisher in Trinidad.

Kingfisher Allies

Kingfisher Allies Notes

All the Kingfisher allies featured in the gallery are ‘Red List 2019; assessed as ‘Least Concern’.

I’ve photographed the featured species in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. The featured Blue-throated and Blue-tailed occur in South East Asia while the Rainbow bee-eater occurs in Australasia and the Oriental Dollarbird in Asia and Australasia.

Singapore bird checklists include three species of Hornbill. The Oriental Pied Hornbill (ssp convexus), the Black Hornbill and the Great Hornbill, the latter two are rare/accidental.

Oriental Pied Hornbill became locally extinct in Singapore in the nineteenth century. Pulau Ubin seems to have has a few individuals with a pair sighted in 1994. Singapore’s NParks and Jurong Bird Park have re-introduced the Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris convexus) back into the successfully released birds into the wild at Bukit Timah in 2008 and Pulau Ubin in 2013. There are now over 100 hornbills all over Singapore. My first photographic recording of Pied Hornbill was on Pulau Ubin back in 2011, before the re-wilding release.

Kingfisher Behaviour

Kingfisher Behaviour Notes

My favourite photo essay and species to photograph is the Stork-billed Kingfisher. The series of images shows the bird perched in a small tree waiting for fish to rise to the surface, then it swoops down to stab a fish. On this occasion, it seemed to overly the fish then turn around and dive shallowly into the water, unlike some other kingfishers that dive straight in. The image below shows the dive pattern. It took me many visits over several years to get these shots.

Stork-Billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis malaccensis) shallow dive to stab a fish in Singapore’s Japanese Garden
Stork-Billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis malaccensis) shallow dive to stab a fish in Singapore’s Japanese Garden

The next sequence is the ubiquitous Collared Kingfisher flying to its nest hole to feed its chicks inside the tree. The Collared Kingfisher is one of the most successful resident species of kingfisher that breeds in Singapore. It’s very noisy with an unmistaken call that can be heard all over the island.

Next up is a series of Laughing Kookaburra images; some show a parent tempting an immature offspring with food. Unlike the Laughing Kookaburra, the Blue-winged is dimorphic; the male has a blue tail and the female rufous.

The Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher or Black-backed Kingfisher image shows individual hunting in the forest at Singapore’s Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and feeding on its primary food is insects. I watched this individual hunting for around two hours. In that time, it successfully captured two insects. The bird dispatched the first quickly but the second took approximately five minutes to devour.

The final few images are River Kingfishers perched looking for food.

Kingfisher Allies Behaviour

Kingfisher Allies Behaviour Notes

A series of Blue-throated Bee-eater showing a pair perched looking for food, returning to the perch with a captured bee and eating their prey. The Blue-tailed Bee-eater a caught a flying insect.

Oriental Pied Hornbills are omnivorous, a couple of images show a bird eating a giant grasshopper and another foraging for fruit. In one of my photos, I noticed that the bird had eyelashes; but birds don’t have eyelashes, do they? Well, it seems a few species do have modified feathers called rictal bristles that look like eyelashes, which may have a role to play in hunting prey. The final Hornbill image is ssp convexus on Pulau Ubin photographed in 2011.

Kingfishers and Allies Taxonomy

Kingfisher and allies include Coraciiformes (Kingfisher, Bee-Eater and Rollers) and Bucerotiformes (Hornbills) orders, both placed in superorder Picimorphae, part of the Afroaves clade. The kingfisher family splits into three subfamilies comprising Halcyoninae (Tree), Alcedininae (River), and Cerylinae (Water) while the kingfisher allies comprise three families Bucerotidae (Hornbills), Meropidae (Bee-eaters), and Coraciidae (Rollers).