"Halcyon" is a name for a bird in Greek legend generally associated with the kingfisher. There was an ancient belief that the bird nested on the sea, which it calmed in order to lay its eggs on a floating nest. Two weeks of calm weather were therefore expected around the winter solstice. This myth leads to the use of halcyon as a term for peace or calmness.
The genus contains 11 species:
- Ruddy kingfisher, Halcyon coromanda
- White-throated kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis
- Javan kingfisher, Halcyon cyanoventris
- Chocolate-backed kingfisher, Halcyon badia
- Black-capped kingfisher, Halcyon pileata
- Grey-headed kingfisher, Halcyon leucocephala
- Brown-hooded kingfisher, Halcyon albiventris
- Striped kingfisher, Halcyon chelicuti
- Blue-breasted kingfisher, Halcyon malimbica
- Woodland kingfisher, Halcyon senegalensis
- Mangrove kingfisher, Halcyon senegaloides
The genus Halcyon in the current sense consists mainly of species resident in sub-Saharan Africa, with a couple of representatives in southern Asia, one of which, the white-throated kingfisher, occasionally reaches Europe. White-throated and ruddy kingfishers are at least partially migratory.
Halcyon kingfishers are mostly large birds with heavy bills. They occur in a variety of habitats, with woodland of various types the preferred environment for most. They are “sit and wait” predators of small ground animals including large insects, rodents, snakes, and frogs, but some will also take fish.
- Swainson, William John (1821). Zoological illustrations. Volume 1. London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy; and W. Wood. Plate 27 text.
- "Halcyon days". The Phrase finder. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
- Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Rollers, ground rollers & kingfishers". World Bird List Version 7.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 17 May 2017.