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Pied Kingfisher - BirdForum Opus

Nominate subspecies
Photo © by Scottishdude
Gambia March, 2010
Ceryle rudis


Pair - Male (left) Female (right)
Ssp. C. r. leucomelanurus
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Bharatpur, India, 25 February 2016

25 cm (9¾ in)

  • Black-and-white plumage.
  • His crown feathers form a short crest.
  • The male has a double and the female a single breast band.


Photo © by steven(sa)
19 December 2009

Widespread and very common in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia and locally common in south-west Asia.

In Africa occurs from Senegal east to Ethiopia and south to eastern South Africa.

In southern Asia found from north-east Afghanistan south through India to Sri Lanka, east to southern China and Hainan and south to Thailand.

Very local in the Western Palearctic breeding in coastal south-west and south Turkey (where it is declining), northern Syria and in Israel and Jordan, formerly also Lebanon. Very recently spread to Cyprus. Breeds more commonly in Egypt in the Nile Delta and Valley. Very common in Iraq and extends north along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers into eastern Turkey.

Mainly resident but some birds disperse and becomes more widespread in winter in Turkey and the Near East, particularly Lebanon.

Rare visitor to Kuwait in winter, and Cyprus where irregular winter visitor from Turkey in October-April.

Vagrants recorded in Greece (5+, mainly in winter), also Poland (August 1859) and France (winter 1990/91) but origins of these birds are uncertain. Three birds were recorded in Montenegro in July 1993, also recorded in Ukraine and Russia.



Four races recognised[1], differing in size and amount of black in plumage.

  • C. r. rudis
  • C. r. leucomelanurus:
  • C. r. travancoreensis:
Extreme south-western India (Cape Comorin to northern Kerala)
  • C. r. insignis:
  • Eastern China (south of Yangtze River Valley) and Hainan


Lakes, ponds and rivers, also fishes in estuaries and on sheltered seas.


Often seen in the open; hovers and dives from a height to catch fish.


Nests in a hole in a bank. The clutch consists of 3-6 white eggs.


Their diet consists mostly of fish, crustaceans and large aquatic insects.


Old results retold in this [link] indicate that the body of a Pied Kingfisher is unpalatable to, for example, a hornet. This would imply some kind of toxic substance; it has been speculated that this might help the bird survive because it discourages predators.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved January 2016)
  3. Absolute Astronomy

Recommended Citation

External Links

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