kingfisher


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kingfisher,

common name for members of the family Alcedinidae, essentially tropical and subtropical land birds, related to the bee-eatersbee-eater,
any of the brightly colored, insect-eating birds of the family Meropidae. They range in length from 6 to 14 in. (15–36 cm). The plumage of many species is predominantly green but usually includes a variety of other bright colors.
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, rollersroller,
common name for brightly colored Old World birds noted for performing somersaults in flight. They include the rollers proper (subfamily Coraciinae) and ground rollers (subfamily Brachypteraciinae; sometimes considered a separate family, Brachypteraciidae) of the family
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, and todiestody
, common name for small (3–4 in./9–10 cm) West Indian birds of the family Todidae, comprising the single genus Todus. Bright green above with red throats, they are forest birds called robins by Jamaicans, although not related to the robin.
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. Kingfishers have chunky bodies, short necks and tails, large heads with erectile crests, and strong, long beaks. Most kingfishers are carnivorous. The family is divided into three subfamilies, the river, tree, and water kingfishers (which some authorities considered to be separate families); the American species being in the last.

The common eastern American belted kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon, perches above the banks of freshwater streams and dives for small fish, crustaceans, reptiles, amphibians, and aquatic insects, returning to its perch to eat. It is 12 to 14 in. (30–35 cm) long, blue-gray above and white beneath; the female has chestnut breast markings. The Texas kingfisher is green above, has no crest, and is smaller (8 in./20 cm). Of the forest kingfishers, the best known is the Australian kookaburrakookaburra
, common name for a squat, long-tailed Australian kingfisher, Dacelo novaeguineae. It is one of the largest birds of the family Alcedinidae (kingfisher family).
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, famous for its laughing cry and valued as a destroyer of harmful snakes and lizards.

River and water kingfishers nest in deep burrows dug out along streams. The burrows may extend up to 10 ft (300 cm) vertically, and from five to eight eggs are laid in the chamber rounded out at the end of the tunnel. Both male and female share the incubation duties. Many forest kingfishers nest in the same fashion as the river and water kingfishers, but some, e.g., the kookaburra, never go near the water and nest in trees.

Kingfishers are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Coraciiformes, family Alcedinidae.

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kingfisher

[′kiŋ‚fish·ər]
(vertebrate zoology)
The common name for members of the avian family Alcedinidae; most are tropical Old World species characterized by short legs, long bills, bright plumage, and short wings.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

kingfisher

any coraciiform bird of the family Alcedinidae, esp the Eurasian Alcedo atthis, which has a greenish-blue and orange plumage. Kingfishers have a large head, short tail, and long sharp bill and tend to live near open water and feed on fish
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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