Birds of the World-14  Green Kingfishers.

Female amazon Kingfisher. Turcoles River Costa Rica.

Public domain Courtesy of Kpts44. WikiCommons.


In this series Birds of the World, we look at the birds that occur in a particular genera. These species occur throughout the world. Here in part 14 we look at the Green Kingfishers in the genus Chloroceryle. The genus contains four species of American Green Kingfishers which are native to tropical Central and South America, with one species extending north to Southern Texas.

They breed by streams in forests and Mangroves,and nest in long horizontal tunnels made in a riverbank.  The American Kingfishers have the typical Kingfisher shape with a short tail and a long bill. All of them have an oily-green plumage above. We commence with a look at the Amazon Kingfisher {female pictured above}.

Amazon Kingfisher.

Courtesy of charlesjsharp {Sharpphotography.com}    CC BY-SA 4.0 License

 Amazon kingfisher (Chloroceryle amazona) male.jpg

Amazon Kingfisher. Chloroceryle amazonia.

The Amazon kingfisher, is a resident species that breeds in the lowlands of the American Tropics from southern Mexico,south through Central America to northern Argentina,where it may well be encountered at Lake shores and large flowing rivers.

It is a large,dark, bronzy green bird with a ragged crest, white throat and collar. The belly is white. The breast of the male is rufous,while the female has a narrower green breast band. They have green flank streaks.  They are about one foot long {29-30 cm} and weigh a hundred and ten grams. Although similar to the Chloroceryle americana {see below}, they are much larger and have an heavier bill. The former also has more extensive white on the wings.

The whole shape of the body is designed for aerodynamics. The pointed bill and head lessen the resistance to both air and water when making a dive. 

These birds hunt for fish and crustaceans from a perch,diving into the water to catch their prey before returning to the perch to eat the fish headfirst. They may also occasionally hover above the water before diving. They will supplement their diet with insects and other amphibians such as small reptiles.

They have a well developed vision. Nature has deemed that these birds can move the eyes within the eye sockets which enables them to see and follow their prey without having to rotate the entire head. membranes protect the eyes when they hit the water. 

Kingfishers, {with the exception of the nest chamber} are very clean birds and often dive to bathe then return to the perch to clean their feathers by preening, they clean their heads by using the wings. The long bill is kept clean by scraping them back and forth along the branch.

Amazon Kingisher Male.

 Courtesy of Bernard Dupont {France}. CC BY-SA 2.0 License.Amazon Kingfisher (Chloroceryle amazona) male (28919816491).jpg


Breeding habits of the Amazon kingfisher.

The birds nest in tunnels that are excavated into road cuts or erosion gullies near the water . The tunnel may be up 1.6 meters long and ten centimeters wide { four inches}. The tunnel is excavated by both sexes by digging with their feet. The work may well take up a week to complete.

The female will deposit three to four white eggs. The eggs are incubated by both parents. The resulting chicks are born blind, naked and helpless requiring care and feeding from both parents,who bring the food into the nest chamber. Because of the nutrient protein rich diet they soon grow and also able to make their way to the entrance of the tunnel where they wait to fed. Eventually they will leave the tunnel and are continued to be fed on nearby perches.

Fledging may vary from a few days to a few weeks before the young birds are able to become fully independent.

Green kingfisher male. Cristalino River,southern Amazon Brazil.

Courtesy of Charlesjsharp. {Sharphotography}   CC BY-SA 4.0 License.

Green Kingfisher. Chlorceryle americana.

This is a resident species which occurs from southern Texas in the USA, south through Central and South America to central Argentina. It is a species seven and a half inches long {19 cm} , with a typical kingfisher shape. They are dark greenish above with white markings on the wings and tail. They also have a white collar around the neck. The males have white underparts with a broad chestnut band and dark green spotting on the flanks. Females have off-white under parts with two green chest bands, the lower one extends to the green spotting along the sides of the belly.

There are five subspecies recognized. 

Chloroceryle americana ssp americana encountered in northern South America,east of the Andes,south to Bolivia and Brazil.

C.americana ssp mathewsii is encountered in the area south of Americana, to north Argentina. 

C american ssp hachisukai, is encountered from the southern United States to Mexico, where it overlaps with the next subspecies.

C american ssp septentrionalis, is encountered from North Mexico to Venezuela where it overlaps with 'americana'.

C american ssp catanisii, is encountered in northern Chile and Peru into west Ecuador and Colombia where it overlaps with americana.

The breeding habits and diet are similar to that of the previous species. 

Green and rufous kingfisher, Chloroceryle inda, taken in Brazil

Courtesy of CharlesjSharp Photography.  CC BY-SA 4.0 License.


Green and rufous Kingfisher. Chloroceryle inda.

This species is a bird that lives in the lowlands of the American tropics from south east Nicaragua south to southern Brazil.This species is nine point four inches {24 cm} long with a typical kingfisher shape. The male has glossy green upper parts and white spotting on the wings. They have a rufous nape and underparts. The female has a narrow green breast band,pale spotting on the green forehead and even paler throat,neck and sides. The diet and breeding habits are similar to the species above.

American Pygmy Kingfisher.   Chloroceryle aenea, taken in Panama.

Courtesy of Mdf    CC BY-SA 3.0 License.


American pygmy kingfisher. Chloroceryle aenea

This tiny kingfisher  only five and a quarter inches  {13 cm } long, is a resident breeding bird in the American tropics from southern Mexico,south through Central America to western Ecuador and around the northern Andes Cordillera in the east to central Bolivia and central Brazil.

Again it has the typical kingfisher shape.It is green above with an orange-yellow collar around the neck, rufous underparts and a white belly. The female has a narrow green breast band. It has a similar plumage to the previous species but can be told immediately by its smaller size.

It is a bird of dense forests and mangroves along the small streams and rivers with dense vegetation along the banks. They diet on small fish, tadpoles etc. They will hawk for insects. The breeding and habits are similar to the above species. 

There are also two sub-species recognized. Chloroceryle aenea aenea, and Chloroceryle aenea stictoptera.

There are no current conservation concerns about any of the species mentioned above. 

Green Kingfisher flew into house. Courtesy of DoubleUThings Standard YouTube License


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