Birds by Name – K
The Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, is a bird of prey species belonging to the kestrel group of the falcon family Falconidae.
The Kestrel is mainly light brown with blackish spots on the upperside and buff with narrow blackish streaks on the underside. It has pointed wings and long tail and is a familiar site hovering above roadside verges, although it is quite at home in urban as well as woodland areas.
They eat other birds and small mammals.
Species: F. tinnunculus
The Grey Kestrel, Falco ardosiaceus, is a smallish bird of prey belonging to the falcon family Falconidae. It grows up to around 33 centimetres in length and with a wingspan of between 58 and 72 centimetres. The female is slightly larger and heavier than the male.
The Grey Kestrel is, unsurprisingly, mainly grey in colour, darker on the upperparts and wings. The bill is quite short, hooked of course, with a bit of yellow near the forehead.
Whenever possible, the Grey Kestrel likes to use the nest of the hamerkop for laying its eggs. If the nest is empty, all well and good. If not, the Hamerkop will be evicted. Occasionally it will nest in a hole in a tree or in some other bird’s nest. The Grey Kestrel lays between two and five eggs.
The Grey Kestrel perches, quite often in exposed areas on top of branches or on overhead wires, and hunts for insects, small mammals or other birds.
Species: F. ardosiaceus
This is a male Lesser Kestrel, Falco naumanni, a small falcon and a lovely bird in flight.
The Lesser Kestrel breeds from the Mediterranean through to Asia, although numbers are on the decline. It grows up to about 33 centimetres in length with a wingspan of around 65 centimetres.
It has a brown back, barred grey underparts, grey head and tail
The Lesser Kestrel eats insects, small birds, reptiles and small rodents.
Species: F. naumanni
Kingfishers are small to medium sized brightly coloured birds in the order Coraciiformes. The group is treated either as a single family, Alcedinidae, or as a suborder Alcedines containing three families, Alcedinidae (river kingfishers), Halcyonidae (tree kingfishers), and Cerylidae (water kingfishers)
There are around 90 species of Kingfisher and all have large heads, long, sharp, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. Most have bright plumage, blues and oranges, with little differences between the sexes.
As well as fish, Kingfishers also eat a variety of aquatic insects. They are usually found near still or slow moving water and generally swoop down from a perch to catch their food. They then return to the perch to eat, often beating larger items on the perch to make them more manageable.
Families: Alcedinidae, Halcyonidae, Cerylidae
African Pygmy Kingfisher
The African Pygmy Kingfisher, variously listed as Ispidina picta or Ceyx pictus, is a small insectivorous kingfisher found mostly in woodland habitats.
Because it likes insects, this Kingfisher does not have to stay near water.
The African Pygmy Kingfisher is approximately 12 to 13 cm in length. The dark blue crown of the adult separates it from the African Dwarf Kingfisher and the smaller size and violet wash on the ear coverts distinguish it from the similar Malachite Kingfisher.
Species: I. picta
This is the Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Halcyon malimbica, a familiar sight in the Mangrove trees along the muddy, swampy banks of the river Gambia. It is very wary of anything which approaches it, so it was a question of slowly, and quietly drifting past in the dugout once it had been spotted.
The Blue-breasted Kingfisher is quite a large bird, up to 25 centimetres in length, with a bright blue head, back, wing panel and tail. Its belly is almost white in parts, its shoulders are black and it has a blue breast band. The upper part of the long bill is red.
The Blue-breasted Kingfisher is generally resident in the wetlands of tropical West Africa, although it will venture further afield if it gets too dry.
It mainly eats insects, fish and frogs, although it does also like the fruit of the Oil Palm. It perches in shady, hidden areas when hunting for food.
The female, very similar in colour to the male, typically lays two round white eggs.
Species: H. malimbica
The Collared Kingfisher, Todiramphus chloris, is a medium-sized tree kingfisher and is found in a wide area from the Red Sea, across southern Asia to Australia and Polynesia. There are around fifty sub-species of Collared Kingfisher.
The Collared Kingfisher is most commonly found in coastal areas and especially near mangrove swamps, hence one of its other names, the Mangrove Kingfisher. It does also venture inland.
Females tend to be a bit greener than the males.
Small crabs, worms, insects, snails, frogs, shrimps and small fish are all likely to feature in the diet of the Collared Kingfisher, depending upon availability.
It nests in holes in trees, in the ground or even in termite mounds and two to seven eggs are generally laid.
Species: T. chloris
The Giant Kingfisher, Megaceryle maxima, lives up to its name at between 42 and 48 centimetres in length. Its upperparts are basically black with white spots. The male has a chestnut breast band and otherwise white underparts and the female has a white-spotted black breast band and chestnut belly.
It has a distinctive black crest, giving the appearance of a permanent bad hair day.
The Giant Kingfisher eats crabs, fish and frogs, caught by diving from an elevated perch.
The Giant Kingfisher makes a tunnel nest in riverbanks and lays 3 to 5 eggs.
Species: M. maxima
The Pied Kingfisher, Ceryle rudis, is quite a striking bird. It is a water kingfisher and is found throughout Africa and Asia. When hunting, it hovers, sometimes for quite a long time, before diving down into the water.
The Pied Kingfisher will often move from tree to tree trying to bash the fish into submission.
Males have two black breastbands, females have one, often broken at the front as in this case.
This one made quite a few dives for food but eventually left empty beaked. Not his or her day.
Species: C. rudis
The Woodland Kingfisher, Halcyon senegalensis, is a medium-sized bird, 20 to 23 centimetres in length, with a bright blue back, wing panel and tail. The head, neck and underparts are white, its shoulders are black, its legs are bright red and the large bill has a red upper mandible and black lower mandible.
The Woodland Kingfisher nests in holes in trees, the holes having been already made by Woodpeckers. The ultimate GALMI…or is that GALBI?
Species: H. senegalensis
The Red Kite, Milvus milvus, is a medium-large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, beautiful to watch as it circles high and low in the sky.
Formerly very scarce in the UK and on the brink of extinction, it was reintroduced into various parts of the country and has flourished, having few or no natural predators except for humans. The Red Kite became extinct in many European countries but has since been reintroduced.
The main threats to Red Kite are poisoning, either deliberate illegal poisoning or indirect poisoning due to pesticides, particularly in the wintering areas in France and Spain, changes in agricultural practices causing a reduction in food resources, hunting, egg collection and deforestation.
The Red Kite is between 60 and 66 centimetres long, has a wingspan up to 195 centimetres and weighs up to 1.3 kilos.
It eats carrion, worms and small mammals.
Order: Falconiformes (or Accipitriformes)
Species: M. milvus