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Stork-billed kingfisher

   ›      ›   Stork-billed kingfisher - Pelargopsis capensis.

The stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) is a tree kingfisher belonging to the family Alcedinidae.

These kingfisher species are distributed in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. The stork-billed kingfisher has a large red stork-like bill. There are fifteen recognized subspecies of these kingfishers.

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

Stork-billed kingfisher - Overview

  • Scientific name: Pelargopsis capensis
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Alcedo capensis Linnaeus, 1766, Halcyon capensis
  • Family: Alcedinidae › Coraciiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Stork-billed kingfisher, Chinese: 鹳嘴翡翠, French: Martin-chasseur gurial German: Storchschnabelliest Spanish: Alción picocigüeña, Russian: Аистоклювый гуриал, Japanese: コウハシショウビン, Malay: Burung Buaya
  • Other names: Brown-headed Stork-billed Kingfisher
  • Distribution: India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei
  • Diet and feeding habits: fish, crabs, crustaceans, lizards, rodents, young birds, insects
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) is closely related to black-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis melanorhyncha).
The fifteen recognized subspecies of stork-billed kingfisher are: P. c. capensis, P. c. gigantea, P. c. osmastoni, P. c. gouldi, P. c. intermedia, P. c. floresiana, P. c. burmanica, P. c. javana, P. c. malaccensis, P. c. innominata, P. c. cyanopteryx, P. c. isoptera, P. c. simalurensis, P. c. nesoeca and P. c. sodalis.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) is a large kingfisher, measuring about 35 cm in length. The males weigh about 140 to 180 grams and the females weigh about 180 to 220 grams.

Except for the size difference, both the sexes of these kingfishers species look alike. The head is pale olive brown and the back is greenish. The neck, breast and underparts are buff. The wings and tail are bluish.

The bill is large and red with purple distal end. The legs are bright red. The irises are dark blackish brown. The bare skin around the eyes is pale red. The kingfisher call is a distinctive cackling "ke-ke-ke-ke" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Stork-billed kingfisher - Pelargopsis capensis
Birds of India - Image of Stork-billed kingfisher - Pelargopsis capensis
Birds of India - Photo of Stork-billed kingfisher - Pelargopsis capensis
Indian birds - Picture of Stork-billed kingfisher - Pelargopsis capensis
Indian birds - Picture of Stork-billed kingfisher - Pelargopsis capensis
Birds of India - Photo of Stork-billed kingfisher - Pelargopsis capensis by David Cook

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The stork-billed kingfisher species are distributed in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Vagrant birds have been observed in mainland China.

The stork-billed kingfisher subspecies P. c. gigantea is distributed in central and southern Philippines. The subspecies P. c. floresiana is distributed in the Indonesian islands, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa and Flores and Pantar. The subspecies P. c. gouldi is distributed in western Philippines.

The stork-billed kingfisher subspecies P. c. javana is distributed in the Indonesian island, Java. The subspecies P. c. innominata is distributed in Borneo. The kingfisher subspecies P. c. isoptera is distributed in western Sumatra. The subspecies P. c. nesoeca is distributed in western Sumatra.

The stork-billed kingfisher subspecies P. c. sodalis and P. c. simalurensis are distributed in northwest Sumatra. The subspecies P. c. cyanopteryx is distributed in the Indonesian islands Sumatra, Bangka and Belitung. The subspecies P. c. intermedia is distributed in Nicobar Island (India).

The stork-billed kingfisher subspecies P. c. malaccensis is distributed in Kra (Thailand) and the Indonesian islands Riau and Lingga. The subspecies P. c. burmanica is distributed in Myanmar, Thailand and Indochina. The subspecies P. c. osmastoni is distributed in Andaman Island (India).

The stork-billed kingfisher subspecies P. c. capensis is distributed in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. In India, these kingfisher subspecies are distributed in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka. Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram.

Ecosystem and habitat

The stork-billed kingfisher species are moderately forest dependent. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 1200 meters. They inhabit natural aquatic, forest, marine and wetland ecosystems. They also inhabit artificial aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

Their artificial ecosystems include arable lands, plantations, water storage lakes, canals, drain canals and large water holding pits and ditches.

The natural ecosystems of stork-billed kingfisher include subtropical and tropical forests, moist lowlands, emergent mangrove vegetation, rocky shoreline, sandy or pebble shoreline, beaches, sandbars, natural freshwater lakes, rivers, streams and creeks.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these stork-billed kingfisher species is mostly marine and freshwater fish. Frogs, fish, crabs and shrimp are the primary food. They also feed on lizards, rodents, young birds, large insects and several terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these stork-billed kingfisher species is from January to September in India. The breeding season is from January to May and also from August to September in Sri Lanka. The breeding season is found to be in April in Philippines and Nicobar Islands.

Like most of the kingfishers, these species are also cavity nesters. They dig tunnels into the earth banks on the sides of rivers and lakes. They may tunnel into decaying trees, or tree termite nests. These stork-billed kingfisher species are monogamous and highly territorial.

The incubating chamber is at the very end of the tunnel. The typical kingfisher clutch contains 2 to 5 white round eggs. Both the kingfisher parents incubate the eggs during the day. During the night, the female incubates the eggs.

Migration and movement patterns

The stork-billed kingfisher is a non-migrant sedentary bird.

Post breeding, the kingfisher juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) has not been quantified. The overall population size of these kingfisher species is considered to be declining. Throughout its range it is reported to be widespread and generally sparse but locally common. The generation length is 5.7 years. Their distribution size is about 16,800,000 sq.km.

The stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion, or the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. Deforestation and loss of habitat are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these 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 stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Pelargopsis capensis
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Coraciiformes
Family:Alcedinidae
Subfamily:Halcyoninae
Genus:Pelargopsis
Species:P. capensis
Binomial name:Pelargopsis capensis
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stork-billed_Kingfisher_Baranagar_Kolkata_West_Bengal_India_21.04.2014.jpg
Image author: Dibyendu Ash | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SBKF1.jpg
Image author: Rasika Liyanage | License: Public domain
3.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kookr/4574116829/
Image author: David Cook | License: CC BY-NC 2.0 (as on 2017/02/13)
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