Azure Kingfisher (Alcedo azurea)

The Azure Kingfisher - Alcedo azurea

Classification:

Species: azurea

Genus: Alcedo

Family: Alcedinidae

Order: Coraciiformes

Class: Aves

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Phylum: Chordata

Kingdom: Animalia

General Description:

Azure Kingfishers are a small aquatic kingfisher. They have a long black bill and whitish rear eye spot. They are dark glossy blue with an orange-rufous underside and orange legs and feet. Males and females look very similar and juveniles are just less vibrant colour.

Size:

17-19cm

Similar Species:

Little Kingfisher

Forest Kingfisher

Australian Distribution:

The Azure Kingfisher is found across northern and eastern Australia. This area covers from The Kimberly area of Western Australia, the Top End of the Northern Territory and Queensland and down the east coast to Victoria.

Habitat:

The Azure Kingfisher found in the riparian zone which is the interface between a water body and the land. They do prefer fresh water creeks and rivers plus lakes, billabongs, swamps and dams. Preferring to sit in the shade, they sit motionless apart from the occasional bob of the head before either diving into the water for a feed or flying off to the next perch. Silent, quick and very hard to spot amongst the foliage. After many hours observing these colourful characters, I have discovered the secret to spotting them – a characteristic head bob and a short ‘sssst’ as they fly off.

Diet:

Feeding mainly on small fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects with the occasional amphibians and aquatic invertebrates. Watching them bash a catch against a branch before swallowing head first is a sight worth seeing.

Breeding:

Azure Kingfishers tend to nest in long burrows in the side of river banks, dams etc. Breeding is from October to March they usually have a clutch of 5 or 6 eggs with both sexes sharing the caring duties. Incubation is 3 weeks with the young fledging at around 30 days.

One example of an Azure Kingfisher is this one I captured at Yellow Water in Kakadu National Park. I followed him into a shaded area of Pandanus, which was a great respite for me from the hot sun of the day. The next few hours were spent observing him go about his business of catching insects for food, where he would rest periodically on a wooded branch. Eventually he paused briefly on this pandanus leaf which provided great contrast to his startling blue colours.

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