Vibrant Elegance: Getting to Know the Stunning Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher

A tiny, cute ball of pink, orange, yellow, and blue combines to create an unbelievably cute kingfisher.


Photo Courtesy of Dr. Raju Kasambe / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Oriental dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca), is the most brightly colored as well as the smallest of all the species of kingfisher, measuring in at only between 5 – 5.5 inches (13 – 14 cm) in length – including bill and tail. Weighing in at only about 0.5 oz or 14 g. This bird is easily recognized by its bright blue crown with a violet wash along the sides of an otherwise orange head. The upper body is bluish-black with glossy blue lines. The throat is white with bright orange colored lines along the bottom. The underbody plumage is a brilliant orange-yellow.

Photo Courtesy of Shantanu Kuveskar / CC BY 4.0 l

The bill and feet are orangey-red.

Males and females look practically identical while juveniles are generally less colorful.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Raju Kasambe / CC BY-SA 4.0

These birds have a huge geographical range across much of Southeast Asia, South China, and the Indian Subcontinent. It can also be found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Raju Kasambe / CC BY-SA 4.0

Oriental dwarf kingfishers prefer to inhabit areas that are in close proximity to small streams in densely shaded, lowland forests.

Photo Courtesy of Ketand1 / CC BY-SA 4.0

Like other kingfisher species, the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher hunts from a perch. However, instead of fish (the typical diet of the kingfisher), it mainly feeds on insects, as well as small lizards or frogs, if the opportunity arises. Before eating lizards or frogs, it kills them by holding them in the beak and continually hitting them against a stone or tree stump.

Photo Courtesy of Anup Deodhar / CC BY-SA 4.0

In southwestern India, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher breeds in June – with the onset of the Southwest Monsoon. In other areas, their breeding season stretches from October to December. Both males and females build a nest by making a horizontal tunnel or burrow on a bank up to a meter in length. This tunnel ends in a chamber, within which they lay a clutch of 3 to 6 eggs, which are incubated by both the male and female for about 17 days. The chicks are fed with geckos, skinks, snails, frogs, crickets, and dragonflies. The young fledge (leave the nest) when they are about 20 days old. A second brood may be raised if the first nesting attempt was unsuccessful.

Photo Courtesy of Enygmatic-Halycon / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Oriental dwarf kingfisher is classified as a “Least Concern Species” under the IUCN Red List and it is not globally threatened. The population trend, however, is decreasing and the number of mature individuals is unknown.

Photo Courtesy of Prateik Kulkarni /  CC BY-SA 4.0

H/T Wikipedia – Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

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