Saturday, February 4

Oriental dwarf kingfisher

   ›      ›   Oriental dwarf kingfisher - Ceyx erithaca.

The Oriental dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca) is a river kingfisher belonging to the family Alcedinidae.

These kingfisher species are distributed in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines. These kingfisher species are dwarf-sized and brightly colored birds. There are four recognized subspecies of Oriental dwarf kingfisher.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Oriental dwarf kingfisher - Overview

  • Scientific name: Ceyx erithaca
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Alcedo erithaca Linnaeus, 1758, Ceyx tridactylus, Ceyx erithacus (Linnaeus, 1758), Ceyx microsoma
  • Family: Alcedinidae › Coraciiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Oriental dwarf kingfisher, Chinese: 三趾翠鸟, French: Martin-pêcheur pourpré, German: Dschungelzwergfischer, Spanish: Martín pigmeo oriental, Russian: Трёхпалый лесной зимородок, Japanese: ミツユビカワセミ, Indonesian: Burung Udang Api, Malay: Burung Pekaka Api
  • Other names: Black-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher, Rufous-backed Kingfisher, Three-toed Kingfisher
  • Distribution: India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines
  • Diet and feeding habits: geckos, skinks, crabs, snails, frogs, crickets, shrimp and dragonflies
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The Oriental dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca) is closely related to C. melanurus, C. mindanensis, C. lepidus, C. cyanopectus and C. argentatus. The four recognized subspecies of Ceyx erithaca are: Ceyx erithaca erithaca (Linnaeus, 1758), Ceyx erithaca macrocarus Oberholser, 1917, Ceyx erithaca motleyi Chasen & Kloss, 1929 and Ceyx erithaca rufidorsa Strickland, 1847.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Oriental dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca) is a small bird, measuring 13 to 14 cm in length and weighting 14 to 20 grams.
The Oriental dwarf kingfisher nominate subspecies have glowing bluish black upperparts and yellowish orange underparts. They have a blackish spot on the forehead. There is a blue patch on the side of the neck. Just below the blue patch there is a white patch. There is a white patch on the chin. The rump is lilac-pink.

The crown of the Oriental dwarf kingfisher is colored lilac-rufous. The tail is short and the tip is orange. The bill is long and broad and colored reddish orange. The irises are black and the bare skin around the eye is dark gray. The legs and feet are reddish orange. There are three toes, two facing forward. Their call is high pitched “triet triet triet” or low pitched “tjiee tjiee tjiee” sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Oriental dwarf kingfisher - Ceyx erithaca
Birds of India -Image of Oriental dwarf kingfisher - Ceyx erithaca by Dr Sudhir Gaikwad
Birds of Inida - Photo of Oriental dwarf kingfisher - Ceyx erithaca
Indian birds - Picture of Oriental dwarf kingfisher - Ceyx erithaca by Francesco Veronesi
Indian birds - Image of Oriental dwarf kingfisher - Ceyx erithaca
Birds of India - Photo of Oriental dwarf kingfisher - Ceyx erithaca by Francesco Veronesi
Birds of India - Photo of Oriental dwarf kingfisher - Ceyx erithaca
Indian birds - Picture of Oriental dwarf kingfisher - Ceyx erithaca by Prateik Kulkarni

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Oriental dwarf kingfisher subspecies C. e. erithaca is distributed in southwest India, Sri Lanka, northeast India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, southern China (Yunnan, Hainan), Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. The subspecies C. e. macrocarus is distributed in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India.

The Oriental dwarf kingfisher subspecies C. e. motleyi is distributed in north and eastern Borneo Island (Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia). The subspecies C. e. rufidorsa is distributed in southern Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra and adjacent islands (Indonesia), southern and western Borneo (Indonesia), western Philippines and Java (Indonesia).

Ecosystem and habitat

These Oriental dwarf kingfisher species have moderate forest dependency. They inhabit lowland and montane forest ecosystems. These kingfisher species occur in altitudes 0 to 1300 meters.

These kingfisher species inhabit tropical coastal forests, evergreen primary and secondary forest, wooded lowlands, deciduous forests, subtropical moist lowlands, tropical moist lowlands, permanent freshwater marshes, mangroves, overgrown plantations, rivers, streams and creeks.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these Oriental dwarf kingfisher species is mostly large insects. Insects like grasshoppers, locusts, cicadas, moths, beetles, bees, wasps, flies and flying ants and termites are the primary food. They also feed on lizards, frogs, shrimps and occasionally fish.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these Oriental dwarf kingfisher species is from July to September in the southwest India. The breeding season is from February to July in Sri Lanka. The breeding season is during April and May in northeastern India and from March to July in Malay Peninsula.

The Oriental dwarf kingfisher species excavate one meter long horizontal tunnel on the river bank for nesting. The nest is not lined. The clutch may comprise four or five eggs. Both the parents take turns to incubate and the eggs hatch out in 17 days. The young birds fledge after 20 days. The hatchlings are fed with a variety of insects and small vertebrates.

Migration and movement patterns

The nominate Oriental dwarf kingfisher subspecies Ceyx erithaca erithaca is partially migrant.
The northmost populations migrate from their breeding grounds in Indian subcontinent, southern China, Indochina and Malay Peninsula and reach Indonesia (Sumatra and Borneo and their associated islands) for wintering.

The other three Oriental dwarf kingfisher subspecies are non-migratory and resident in their range. Post breeding dispersal of the kingfisher juveniles takes place. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Oriental dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca) has not been quantified. The overall population size of these species is considered to be declining. Throughout its range it is reported to be scarce. The generation length is 4.2 years. Their distribution size is about 14,600,000 sq.km.

The Oriental dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. The deforestation and habitat destruction are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these dwarf kingfisher species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the kingfisher species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the Oriental dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Ceyx erithaca
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Coraciiformes
Family:Alcedinidae
Subfamily:Alcedininae
Genus:Ceyx
Species:C. erithaca
Binomial name:Ceyx erithaca
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
Popular posts in Birds of India


1.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MEAL_TIME.jpg
Image author: Dr Sudhir Gaikwad | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
2.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Black-backed_Kingfisher_-_Si_Phangnga_-_Thailand_S4E4240_(14071785097).jpg
Image author: Francesco Veronesi | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 (as on 2017-01-04)
3.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Black-backed_Kingfisher_-_Si_Phangnga_-_Thailand_S4E4226_(14086482797).jpg
Image author: Francesco Veronesi | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 (as on 2017-01-04)
4.Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Oriental_Dwarf_Kingfisher_(male).jpg
Image author: Prateik Kulkarni | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
Current topic in Birds of India: Oriental dwarf kingfisher - Ceyx erithaca.

Contact State Tourism or travel agents for bird watching and wildlife tours.