Kingfishers and Allies

The album displays 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. I photographed these in woodland, tropical forest, garden, swamp, and lake habitat. See the Taxonomy note at the end of this page.

The second gallery displays images of the Bee-eaters (Meropidae), Rollers (Coraciidae) and Hornbills (Bucerotidae) families. These Kingfisher allies and Hornbills inhabit forests.

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


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. I have photographed four tree kingfisher and two river kingfisher species. Singapore has five tree kingfisher and three 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

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

I have photographed the featured species in Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore. The featured Blue-throated and Blue-tailed occur in Southeast Asia. In contrast, 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 had 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. Before the re-wilding release, my first photographic recording of Pied Hornbill was on Pulau Ubin in 2011. There are now over 100 hornbills all over Singapore.

Kingfisher Behaviour

My favourite 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 overfly the fish then turn around and dive shallowly into the water, unlike some other kingfishers that dive straight in. Images in the gallery above show the dive pattern. It took me many visits over several years to get these shots.

The second sequence shows 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 is a boisterous bird with an unmistakable call often heard in parks, gardens, and reserves.

Next 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, while the female is rufous.

The Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher or Black-backed Kingfisher image shows individual hunting in the forest at Singapore’s Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. It was feeding on its primary food is, insects. I watched this bird 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

A series of Blue-throated Bee-eater shows a pair perched looking for food, returning to the perch with a captured bee and eating their prey. The Blue-tailed Bee-eater 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. The final Hornbill image is ssp convexus on Pulau Ubin photographed in 2011.

I noticed that the bird had eyelashes, but birds do not have eyelashes, do they? Well, a few species do have modified feathers called rictal bristles that look like eyelashes, which may have a role to play in hunting prey.

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). In contrast, the kingfisher allies include three families Bucerotidae (Hornbills), Meropidae (Bee-eaters), and Coraciidae (Rollers).