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Bali Impressions-Animals in and around your house or Hotel


 Alcedo atthis, Common Kingfisher

Common Kingfishers are among the few Kingfishers that Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthisi, bali, birds, birding,vogels, oiseau
specialise in fishing. They are well known for plunging into
the water to catch their prey: mainly small fish (60%) and prawns (30%), although they do pick off crabs and small mudskippers from mudflats. Common Kingfishers prefer to hunt in shallow water which gives them better accuracy.

Common Kingfishers usually perch on a convenient branch or pole about 1-2m from the water surface. They plunge into the water from their perch (90%); or hover before diving in (3%). They have keen eyesight with polarising filters to cut out water reflection and better see their prey. They also learn to compensate for refraction. When they plunge into the water, the eyes are protected by a membrane. So they actually catch their prey blind, relying on touch to decide when to snap their bills shut. They then fly straight out of the water with their prey in their bills.

Before eating a fish, the bird will hold it by its tail and whack it to death against the perch, particularly fishes with poky fins. Otherwise, the live fish may extend its fins in the bird's throat, choking it, sometimes to death. Kingfishers regurgitate pellets of indigestible fishbone. The birds preen themselves carefully after fishing to ensure their feathers remain waterproof. Juveniles often nearly drown because they failed to pay enough attention to preening.

Common Kingfishers are solitary and highly territorial because they have to eat about 60% of their body weight a day. They fiercely defend their feeding grounds, even from their mates and offspring. When contesting territory, they perform a ritual display perched some distance from each other. This involves displaying feathers and beaks, accompanied by whistling. Usually the dispute is resolved without actual combat. But in rare instances, combatants will lock beaks and attempt to drown each other.

Common Kingfishers nest on steep river banks, or even active termite mounds, digging out a tunnel that ends in a chamber. 4-8, usually 2, white eggs are laid, incubated by both parents in 18-21 days. Both parents raise the young. The chicks fledge in about 23-24 days. Mortality rates can be as high as 50%.

Migration: Common Kingfishers that breed far north migrate to the south, usually travelling at night. They may travel past the breeding grounds of more southerly residents, and go all the way to eastern Indonesia
Status and threats: The Common Kingfisher is not at risk they are found near open streams, canals, reservoirs, ponds and along the coasts. They are usually not found in forests or densely forested streams.