Malachite kingfisher

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Malachite kingfisher
Malachite kingfisher (Corythornis cristatus galerita).jpg
C. c. galerita, Gambia
Malachite kingfisher (Corythornis cristatus).jpg
at Lake Baringo, Kenya
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Alcedinidae
Subfamily: Alcedininae
Genus: Corythornis
Species: C. cristatus
Binomial name
Corythornis cristatus
(Pallas, 1764)
Subspecies
Synonyms
  • Alcedo cristata

The malachite kingfisher (Corythornis cristatus) is a river kingfisher which is widely distributed in Africa south of the Sahara. It is largely resident except for seasonal climate-related movements.

Taxonomy[edit]

The malachite kingfisher was described by the German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas in 1764 and given the binomial name Alcedo cristata.[2][3][4] The specific epithet cristata is from the Latin cristatus meaning "crested" or "plumed".[5] The adjective "malachite" in the vernacular name normally refers to the dark green colour of the copper containing mineral.[6] This kingfisher has blue upperparts but has black banding with pale blue or greenish-blue on its forehead.[7]

A molecular phylogenetic study published in 2007 confirmed that the most closely related species is the Malagasy kingfisher, (Corythornis vintsioides).[8] It has a black bill and greenish crest, and is not quite as dependent on water as the African species. It is otherwise similar in plumage and behaviour to the more widespread malachite kingfisher.[9] The São Tomé kingfisher and the Príncipe kingfisher were sometimes considered as distinct species but a study published in 2008 showed that they are both subspecies of the malachite kingfisher.[10]

Description[edit]

This is a small kingfisher, 13 cm (5.1 in) in length. The general colour of the upper parts of the adult bird is bright metallic blue. The head has a short crest of black and blue feathers, which gives rise to the scientific name. The face, cheeks, and underparts are rufous and there are white patches are on the throat and rear neck sides. The bill is black in young birds and reddish-orange in adults; the legs are bright red. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are a duller version of the adult.

The call of this kingfisher is then a short shrill seek. The breeding song is a chuckling li-cha-cha-chui-chui.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

This species is common to reeds and aquatic vegetation near slow-moving water or ponds. It occurs throughout Sub-Saharan Africa except for the very arid parts of Somalia, Kenya, Nambibia and Botswana.

The flight of the malachite kingfisher is rapid, with the short, rounded wings whirring until they appear a mere blur. It usually flies low over water.

Behaviour[edit]

Breeding[edit]

The nest is a tunnel in a sandy bank, usually over water. Both birds excavate. Most burrows incline upward before the nesting chamber is reached. Three or four clutches of three to six round, white eggs are placed on a litter of fish bones and disgorged pellets.

Feeding[edit]

The bird has regular perches or stands from which it fishes. These are usually low over the water. It sits upright, its tail pointed downwards. It drops suddenly with a splash and usually returns at once with a struggling captive. Large food items are beaten on a bough or rail; small fish and insects are promptly swallowed. A fish is usually lifted and carried by its middle, but its position is changed, sometimes by tossing it into the air, before it is swallowed head downwards. Fish, aquatic insects, and crustaceans are eaten.

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2015). "Corythornis cristatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Peters, James Lee, ed. (1945). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 5. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 176. 
  3. ^ Sherborn, C. Davies (1905). "The new species of birds in Vroeg's catalogue, 1764". Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. 47: 332–341 [334 No. 55].  Includes a transcript of the 1764 text.
  4. ^ Rookmaaker, L.C.; Pieters, F.F.J.M. (2000). "Birds in the sales catalogue of Adriaan Vroeg (1764) described by Pallas and Vosmaer". Contributions to Zoology. 69 (4): 271–277. 
  5. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 122. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4. 
  6. ^ "malachite". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^ Fry, C. Hilary; Fry, Kathie; Harris, Alan (1992). Kingfishers, Bee-eaters, and Rollers. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 206–207. ISBN 978-0-7136-8028-7. 
  8. ^ Moyle, R.G.; Fuchs, J.; Pasquet, E.; Marks, B.D. (2007). "Feeding behavior, toe count, and the phylogenetic relationships among alcedinine kingfishers (Alcedininae)". Journal of Avian Biology. 38 (3): 317–326. doi:10.1111/J.2007.0908-8857.03921.x. 
  9. ^ Fry, C. Hilary; Fry, Kathie; Harris, Alan (1992). Kingfishers, Bee-eaters, and Rollers. London: Christopher Helm. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-7136-8028-7. 
  10. ^ Melo, M.; Fuchs, J. (2008). "Phylogenetic relationships of the Gulf of Guinea Alcedo kingfishers". Ibis. 150 (3): 633–639. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2008.00826.x. 

External links[edit]