Birds of the World






Totipalmate Swm



 NW Vultures







   NW Flycatchers


 Aust. Wrens
 Aust. Robins
 OW Orioles
 OW Flycatchers
 N Creepers
 OW Warblers
 OW Sparrows
 9-prim. Oscines

   Hawaiian Honycrp
   NW Sparrows
   NW Warblers
   NW Blackbirds


Coraciae: Coraciiformes - Motmots, Todies, Kingfishers, Bee-eaters
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Bucerotiformes - Hornbills, Ground Hornbills
Upupiformes - Hoopoes, Wood Hoopoes, Scimitar-bills
Trogoniformes - Trogons
Coraciiformes -
   Rollers, Ground-Rollers, Cuckoo-Rollers
   Motmots, Todies, Kingfishers, Bee-eaters
Galbuliformes - Jacamars, Puffbirds
Great Hornbill, Eurasian Hoopoe, Narina Trogon, Quetzal, Collared Trogon,
Violaceous Trogon, White-tailed Trogon, Indian Roller, Tody, Laughing Kookaburra,
White-throated Kingfisher
, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, European Bee-eater,
Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Puffbird
  Order Coraciiformes - Rollers, Motmots, Todies,
         Kingfishers, Bee-eaters
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  This diverse group includes a variety of colorful birds usually with some fusion of the toes (syndactyly) and three forward -pointing toes. Their palate is desmognathous. This is largely an Old World and tropical group.
  Suborder Alcedinides
  Family Motmotidae - Motmots
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  9 (10) species, 6 genera. Neotropics - Mexico to northern Argentina.
   Medium-sized, colorful birds with spatulate tail feathers. They are birds of the forest. Their closest relatives are the todies, kingfishers, and bee-eaters.
   Relatively small to medium-sized birds. They have a broad and relatively massive bill. The edges of the maxilla and mandible are serrate - the bill is slightly decurved. The vomer is small. They have rictal bristles. Their wings are short and rounded. The tail is long. They have 11 primaries, 20 rectrices (12 in Momotus), with the middle pair longest and spatulate-tipped in many species (weaker intermediate barbs are shed leaving the base and tip with a web). Their is a small aftershaft.  Adults lack down. They wag their long tail in a typical display. Their legs are short and the small feet are syndactylous (the outer two toes are fused - a feature found in birds that dig their nesting burrow). They have no caeca and a flattened naked oil gland (most species).
   Most are colorful with iridescent blues and green. They are seen alone or in pairs. They perch upright and remain motionless, or wag their tail in a pendulum-like motion (a warning that predators are near?).  They flycatch insects in the air or gleam prey from leaves or on the ground. Their food is usually large insects (beetles, flies, dragonflies, butterflies). They also eat other arthropods and a few small vertebrates including fish (they may feed on poison dart frogs). Fruit is also eaten by the larger species.
   Motmots are relatively quiet, singing at dawn and dusk - some larger species have double deep hoots (giving them their name). They range across a variety of habitats - most prefer lowlands and foothills.
   Motmots are monogamous. Most nest as single pairs but some form small colonies. They excavate a nesting hole in a bank or on the ground. They lay 2-4 (3-5) white eggs. Incubation probably varies from 18-24 days. Both feed the young which begin naked and nidicolous. Fledging probably takes 24-32 da
Trinidad Motmot

Trinidad Motmot





Blue-crowned Motmot, Momotus momota
Trinidad. Photos by Ed Konrad.
  Family Todidae - Todies
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  5 species, 1 genus (Todus). New World - Caribbean islands including Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico.
   Todies are very small birds (5-7 g) with a large head and a long, flat bill that is finely serrated. Their tongue is long. The body is round and their wings and tail are short. They have 10 primaries. Legs and feet are small and their toes are syndactyl.
   Todies resemble kingfishers with bright green on the upperparts with a red throat and lighter underparts.
   They are solitary or occur in pairs. They sit on small twigs, remaining still or shuffling sidewise like parrots. They sally to catch insects under leaves and branches. They feed on a variety of insects and their eggs along with other invertebrates (or very small vertebrates) and fruit. They are acrobatic while hunting, resembling some of the flycatchers in their antics.
   They have nasal buzzing calls or clear whistles usually heard only during the breeding season. They are found in forested areas with dense undergrowth, usually preferring lower elevations. They perch with the bill pointing upward (like hummingbirds) and perform wing snapping displays during courtship.
   They are monogamous with a single brood/year. They dig nesting burrows in earth banks or rotten trunks and lay 1-4 white eggs. Both parents incubate for 21-22 days but may be relatively inattentive. Young are naked and nidicolous. They are fed up to 140 times per day - the highest rate known for birds. They fledge in 19-20 days.


Tody. sp?
Brehms Tierleben, 1982.

  Family Alcedinidae - Kingfishers
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  94 (93) species, 18 genera (Sibley and Monroe, 1990, Clements, 2007), Dickinson (2003) and Harris (2009) list 91 species in 17 genera. Kingfishers form a group of 3 families (Sibley and Ahlquist, 1990) or three subfamilies in the Family Alcedinidae (Clements, 2007). See below. Worldwide except the high Arctic.
   Kingfishers are relatively small to medium-sized birds (9 to ~500g). In most kingfishers, the sexes are alike but in some the females are larger. Their head is large (often crested) and their neck is short. They have a moderately long bill (often dagger-like) ranging to massive in the case of the Kookaburras. The mandible is wide and the gonys is angled. It is usually longer and more compressed in fish-eating species and shorter and broader in species that forage on the ground. The most atypical bill is that of the Shovel-billed Kingfisher, Clytoceryx rex, which digs in the forest floor for food.  The body is stout and the wings are short and rounded. Tails are relatively short (one species has long streamers). Legs are short and most have syndactylous feet (the toes are united). Kingfishers have a pelvic muscle formula of AX, and no caeca. They have two carotids and the oil gland is bilobed and tufted in most. Contour feathers have no aftershaft. They usually have 11 primaries and 12 rectrices.
   Their plumage often includes bright or metallic colors but there is wide variation across the species. The head has fluffy feathers that form an erectile crest in some species. The paradise kingfishers have elongated central tail feathers that form streamers (some with a racquet-like tip). Bill colors also vary widely.
   Kingfishers are usually solitary or paired. Their name refers to their habit of plunge diving to capture fish but some Old World species live in drier areas and feed on rodents, reptiles, insects and other terrestrial prey. However, most forage by watching from a high perch then pouncing on prey from above. Some hover motionless over water before diving. Kingfishers are able to see in both air and under water (their lens is egg-shaped to facilitate focusing in both environments). Forest and savanna species catch insects in the same manner. One species (Shovel-billed Kingfisher, Clytoceryx rex) digs in the ground for grubs and earthworms in New Guinea rain forests. Their major food is fish but they may also eat other invertebrates, insects, earthworms and small vertebrates. Kookaburras (Dacelo - 4 spp) may eat snakes - including venomous species - up to 1 m in length. They beat them against the ground before swallowing them head first. Kookaburras also visit tips, human settlements, and bird feeders.
   Most kingfishers live along streams or rivers. Some tropical species live in open areas of the forest and some live in drier open country (Acacia savannas, desert margins). More northern species such as the Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, breeding in Russia and Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon, breeding in Alaska and northern Canada, move southward in winter (some augmenting our winter population).
   Kingfishers are vocal with loud, distinctive calls - the Laughing Kookaburra, Dacelo novaeguineae, has a laughing, chuckling, gurgling series of distinctive notes.
   Kingfishers  are monogamous and territorial (sometimes colonial). All kingfishers nest in holes. They may excavate their own burrows in banks or build their nest in tree holes or in holes dug into termite nests. [The longest burrows are those of the Giant Kingfisher, Megaceryl maxima, which may exceed 8 m in length.] Most birds add little nest material. Clutches vary in size from 2 to 6-7 (10) eggs. Incubation varies from 13-28 days depending on size and species. Nestlings look spiny because the growing feathers retain their sheaths. Both parents incubate and care for the young. Fledging takes from 21-44 days. Kookaburras are cooperative nesters with helpers.
  Subfamily Alcedinae - River (Alcedinid) Kingfishers
   (or Family Alcedinidae)
  24 species, 3 genera. Africa, Madagascar, Europe, Asia Indonesia, New Guinea, the Solomons and northern Australia. Alcedo, Ceyx, Ispidina.      
  Subfamily Halconinae - Tree (Dacelonid or Halconid)
   Kingfishers (or Family Halyconidae)
  61 species, 12 genera. Africa, India, southern China, Philippines, southeast Asia, Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and southwest Pacific Islands. Lacedo, Dacelo, Clytoceyx, Melidora, Todirhamphus, Syma, Cittura, Pelargopsis, Halcyon, Cardionax, Actenoides, Tanysiptera.
   Sibley and Monroe (1990) named this group the Family Dacelonidae but Halcyonidae has priority.
Laughing Kookaburra, Dacelo novaeguineae. Mooreton Island, Australia. The Kookabura is a large dacelid kingfisher with a loud, rolling "laugh." They prey on many small vertebrates.
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During our trip to Australia and New Zealand, we also saw two other dacelid  kingfishers - the Forest Kingfisher, Todirhamphus macleayii, and Sacred Kingfisher, T. sanctus. The tiny Azure Kingfisher, Alcedo azurea, seen along the Daintree River, is an alcedinid kingfisher.
  Photos by Ed Konrad. Singapore    
White-throated Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Collared Kingfisher
Stork-billed Kingfisher, Pelargopsis capensis
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Collared Kingfisher, Todirhamphus chloris
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White-throated Kingfisher,
Halcyon smyrnensis

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  Subfamily Cerylinae - Water (Cerylid) Kingfishers  
   (or Family Cerylidae)
  ● Our only Coraciiform bird is the Belted Kingfisher.
  Family Meropidae - Bee-eaters
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    26 (25) species, 3 genera (Nyctyornis, Meropogon, Merops). Old World - Africa, southern Europe across southern Eurasia to the Philippines, Australia, and Indochina.
   Bee-eaters are relatively small and very colorful birds known for their graceful pursuit of insects - they are swallow-like in flight but rarely hover. They have a broad head and short neck with a long, pointed, slightly decurved bill that is sometimes compressed. Their nostrils are holorhinal. Their body is slender and their wings are usually short and rounded or longer and more pointed. Legs are short and their feet are weak and syndactyl. They walk poorly but are able to perch on vertical surfaces and excavate nest burrows. They are colorful (males are brighter than females). Green predominates on the upper parts with a variety of colors displayed on the underparts. All but members of Nyctyornis, Meropogon, and Merops gularis have a black facial mask. They have 14 cervical vertebrae and 4 pairs of complete ribs, They have only the left carotid. They have long caeca and an oil gland that is naked and indistinctly lobed. They have 10-11 primaries, 12 rectrices, and a small aftershaft. They are eutaxic. The tail is square or rounded but the elongated central tail feathers form pointed streamers. In the Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, M. hirundineus, the outer tail feathers are longer than the central rectrices.
   Bee-eaters are highly social - ranging from pairs (forest-living species) to large foraging and breeding colonies (species found in open country). They often sit so close that individuals are touching. They are diurnal and catch only flying insects. They often perch on wires or branches along edges, flying rapidly to catch passing prey. Prey that lands is rarely pursued. Lacking high perches, they may ride on the back of bustards or grazing mammals which help by flushing insects. Bearded bee-eaters forage in the canopy of forests. Bee-eaters are found where there are insects and seldom venture far from water. They feed on bees and wasps, rubbing the stingers against a branch or other hard surface to remove it. They also like ants, termites, cicadas, dragonflies, moths, crickets, and other relatively large insects.
   Bee-eaters spend about 10% of their day in comfort activities - sunning, dust bathing, water bathing, and preening. They may make shallow dives into water and return to a perch to preen.
   All have soft rolling contact notes. Pairs may call when flying or landing. Most of the open-country species are highly vocal. Most species are sedentary but several living in higher latitudes migrate toward the equator in winter. The European Bee-eater, M. apiaster, is the longest distance migrant. The Southern Carmine Bee-eater, M. nubicoides, moves south from Angola and Mozambique to Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa before moving to its wintering area in northern Angola, Congo, and Tanzania.
  Most bee-eaters are monogamous. Colonial breeders may, however, have helpers. In the most complex species, individuals may have four tiers of social kinship - pairs, families, clans, and the entire colony. Six species breed in colonies - some reaching thousands of nesting birds. All are hole nesters, excavating a nest chamber in a bank or cliff - often along a river or road bank. Some burrow in flat, sandy ground. They lay 2-7 eggs which are incubated for 18-23 days. Young are nicicolous and naked. They have "spiny" feathers like kingfishers. Young leave the nest in about a month.


European Bee-eater, Merops apiaster.
Brehms Tierleben, 1892.
    Banner - Belted Kingfisher. ACE Basin.