A case of dead kingfishers

Well, arguing about the physiology of Mesozoic archosaurs has been fun but I just can't put the time into it. Moving on, here's something entirely different...


Excuse my crappy photographic skills, and well done you if you can identify any/some/all of the species concerned. To those who don't know: yes, kookaburras (the four or so species of Dacelo) are gigantic kingfishers. We also have a few paradise kingfishers (Tanysiptera) in there, stork-billed kingfishers (Halcyon), pied kingfishers (Ceryle) and an American green kingfisher (Chloroceryle) - in all, a pretty good representation of total kingfisher diversity. Anyway, the point of all this is to try something new. The new Movable Type platform we use here at ScienceBlogs now allows the embedding of click-to-make-larger images. Let's see if this one works...

View image

UPDATE: ok, so it does work, but I could only get the whole image to show by reducing it to a width of 500 px (any bigger and only part of the image would show).

Next: 200 years of kiwi research. So much for finishing seabirds, month-in-pterosaurs and so much else...

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A laughing kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae), photographed at the Bronx Zoo.
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River kingfisher, Alcedo atthis. Orphaned image. Contact me to receive proper credit. As long as you send images to me (and I hope it will be for forever), I shall continue to share them with my readership. My purpose for posting these images is to remind all of us of the grandeur of the natural…

The new feature is a nice touch, and much appreciated by my aging eyes.

By Craig York (not verified) on 19 Feb 2009 #permalink

So it is a ratite series. Don't feel bad Darren, we all have things we must do but are too lazy to complete. The kingfisher diversity is excellent, by the way.

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 19 Feb 2009 #permalink

I'm going to have a go at identifying a few of these.

The one at centre top is probably American Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana)

To the left and slightly below looks like a Brown-hooded Kingfisher (Halcyon albiventris)

To the right and just below the Green Kingfisher is Common or River Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

On the extreme right is I think Moluccan Kingfisher (Halcyon diops)

Below this (the tiger striped one)looks like a female Banded Kingfisher (Lacedo pulchella)

Left of this is Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)

Left of that (wings open pointing diagonally down) looks like either a Woodland or African Mangrove Kingfisher (Halcyon senegalensis or H. senegaloides)

Immediately below (wings open, vivid blue) looks like Black-capped Kingfisher (Halcyon pileata).

To the left maybe an Amazon Kingfisher (Chloroceryle amazona)

To the right of the Black-capped Kingfisher could be a Green-and-rufous Kingfisher (Chloroceryle inda) - but I am less confident about that the more I look at it. It doesn't look right. The beak colour is certainly wrong, but I can't think of a better match.

Below is a Blue-winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii)

Above and to the right looks like a Rufous-bellied Kookaburra (Dacelo gaudichaud)

To the left of the Blue-winged Kookaburra looks rather like a White-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) - though the brown of its head looks darker than usual.

Left again is one of the Megaceryle species, since it seems about as large a s the Blue-winged Kookaburra, I assume it is Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata) with it's rufous underside obscurred. Since I can see no hint of a crest possibly a female. Once agian the beak looks the wrong colour, is there any chance the touched up the colour on the hard-parts of some these stuffed specimens?

Below that is a Common Paradise Kingfisher (Tanysipetra galatea) - though it could be an Aru Paradise Kingfisher.

Below and to the right looks like one of the races of Asian Mangrove Kingfisher (Halcyon chloris).

And to the immediate right of it could be a Stork-billed Kingfisher (Halcyon (Pelargopsis) capensis)

Above and to the right (blue head with stripey back) looks like a male Banded Kingfisher (Lacedo pulchella)

There are several very mall blue ones at the bottom, which I cant get a good enough look at, and there are several possibilities for tiny blue kingfishers. The small one at the centre bootom with the rufous-ish head may well be an Asian Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx erithacus)

Right of this seem to be two more Paradise Kingfishers - one looks like Common, the other possibly a Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher (Tanysiptera sylvia) or a Red-breasted Paradise Kingfisher (Tanysiptera nympha) - the lack of the white spot on the mantle makes the latter more likely.

The stripey kingfisher to the right seems to be a Crested Kingfisher (Megaceryle lugubris)

The beautiful turquoise fronted one left of the crested could be a Lazuli Kingfisher (Halcyon lazuli)

Some I just couldn't manage, and I am not confident about quite a few of the others. I'll be happy if I have more than half right, and I confess that having narrowed them to genus or species group I checked a few (ok, most) of them against the Helm Id Guide for Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and Rollers.

Oh, and I'm convinced that they are all true endotherms! :)

By Mark Lees (not verified) on 19 Feb 2009 #permalink

Thanks Mark Lees for attempting to identify all of them. I don't have the time to look through the Internet to corroborate your guesses, but based on what I can recall, I would agree with your identifications.

Kingfishers are among my fabourite birds, since the more common species found in Singapore, collared (Todirhamphus chloris) and white-throated (Halcyon smyrnensis) are brightly-coloured and often quite vocal.

sooooo cool and yet somehow creepy the timing on this post... i JUST got off a plane from australia (back to new zealand) 2 hours ago, and while over in aussie i became obsessed with kookaburras.

there was a whole "pack" of kooks hanging around my motel during the trip, who were there to nab poor frogs that wandered into the outdoor pool.

my obsession came from partially trying to photograph them (i finally yesterday managed to get some great close up, non digital zoom photos this morning!) and also their playful/checky demeanor. wild kooks (unlike the ones i saw in the zoo) have a very mischievious and sneaky look about them, and have very defined personalities to back it up.

so great was my new infatuation i bought a little stuffed kooky for my girl friend (which as we live together, is a brilliant scam to give myself a stuffed animal without admitting it ;P ) which was bean stuff. NZ bio security is among the strictist in the world, and they thought it was stuffed with "grain" and i nearly lost my new kooky an hour ago...

anyways just too funny the timing.

i'm very keen to see your upcoming kiwi articles, and was wondering if and/or when you might look at swamphens?

Also to everyone out there, please donate to the Australian Bushfire Relief Fund. The fires that ravaged Victoria were horrific, and a lot of people have had their lives literally burned away these last 2 weeks.

Also to everyone out there, please donate to the Australian Bushfire Relief Fund. The fires that ravaged Victoria were horrific, and a lot of people have had their lives literally burned away these last 2 weeks.

Among the dead is the internationally known ornithologist Richard Zann, who perished at Kinglake together with his wife and daughter. Zann was an expert on the ecology of wild zebra finches, and he was also involved in the study of the recolonisation of the Krakatau Islands by birds and bats in the 1980ies and 90ies. (Btw, Traumador, I had my own eerie coincidence recently: that weekend, when the Victoria bushfires started, I happened to be reading some of Zann's papers on Krakatau's birdlife. The next thing I read was that he'd been killed in the fires!)

Animals have suffered horrendously in the fires, too. I am very concerned about the fate of Leadbeater's possum Gymnobelideus leadbeateri, a highly endangered marsupial only known to occur in Victoria (there are none in captivity). The species has survived bushfires before, but these recent ones have been particularly devastating. Fingers crossed.

Sorry, didn't mean to be so gloomy...

OMG, I knew Richard Zann well, he was part of the Zoology Dept. of LaTrobe when I did my PhD there. This is terrible news.
As for the fate of Leadbeater's possum I am terribly pessimistic. The main stronghold was around Marysville, which was totally razed. In the past it probably survived because of the patchiness of bushfires. These utterly devasting megafires were probably too much for a species with a range restricted by logging and development.

What a horrible tradgedy this has been

The fires do seem to have been very bad news for Leadbeater's possum: and, while they used to be kept in captivity, the last captive individual died in February 2006. I'm also very sorry to hear about Richard Zann. I hope no-one that reads Tet Zoo has been personally affected by the fires.