The Sacred Kingfisher is a medium sized kingfisher. It has a turquoise
blue rump and tail, buff-white underparts and a broad cream collar.
There is a broad black eye stripe extending from bill to nape of neck.
Both sexes are similar, although the female is generally lighter with
duller upper parts. Young birds are similar to the female, but have
varying amounts of rusty-brown edging to feathers on the collar and
under parts, and buff edges on the wing coverts.
The species is found
on islands from Australasia to Indonesia and New Zealand.
The Sacred Kingfisher inhabits woodlands, mangroves and paperbark
forests, tall open eucalypt forest and melaleuca forest
Sacred Kingfishers forage mainly on the land, only occasionally
capturing prey in the water. They feed on crustaceans, reptiles, insects
and their larvae and, infrequently, fish. The birds perch on low exposed
branch on the lookout for prey. Once prey is located, the Sacred
Kingfisher swoops down and grasps it in its bill, returning to the perch
to eat it.
For most of the year Sacred Kingfishers are mainly solitary, pairing
only for the breeding season. Usually two clutches are laid in a season.
Both sexes excavate the nest, which is normally a burrow in a termite
mound, hollow branch or river bank. The nest chamber is unlined and can
be up to 20m above the ground. Both sexes also incubate the eggs and
care for the young.