Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)

Pied Kingfisher

[order] CORACIIFORMES | [family] Alcedinidae | [latin] Ceryle rudis | [UK] Pied Kingfisher | [FR] Alcyon pie | [DE] Graufischer | [ES] Martin Pescador Pio | [NL] Bonte IJsvogel


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Todus rudis
Ceryle rudis
Ceryle rudis AF, OR widespread, also Middle East
Ceryle rudis insignis e and se China, Hainan I.
Ceryle rudis leucomelanurus e Afghanistan through India to s China and n Indochina
Ceryle rudis rudis Egypt and Africa south of the Sahara
Ceryle rudis syriacus Turkey to Israel east to sw Iran
Ceryle rudis travancoreensis sw India

Physical charateristics

Ceryle rudis is a medium-sized kingfisher and has the distinctive kingfisher body type, with a large head, small body, small feet, and long, dagger-like bill. They have distinctive black and white coloration, spotted on the wings, and with a black crown on the head. Sexes can be distinguished by sexually dimorphic bands across the chest. Males characteristically have two black bands whereas females have only one. The typical body length is 25 to 29 cm

Listen to the sound of Pied Kingfisher

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/P/Pied Kingfisher.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: cm wingspan max.: cm
size min.: 25 cm size max.: 26 cm
incubation min.: 17 days incubation max.: 18 days
fledging min.: 24 days fledging max.: 18 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


Africa, Oriental Region : widespread, also Middle East


Pied kingfishers live along streams, lakes, rivers, estuaries, irrigation ditches, canals, bays, floodlands, and reedy inlets. Near mountainous areas, they live in lower river valleys. They usually avoid mangroves and large swamps. The habitat of C. rudis ranges from seashores up to 2,500 m above sea level. They are less abundant near fast flowing waters.


Courtship involves dancing displays and males offering food to females. Dancing displays are gregarious and done with 3 to 12 males at one time. They noisily call to each other while holding their wings half spread and may also engage in fights by interlocking their beaks or holding their wings. Males attract females by offering food over a period of about three weeks. Pied kingfishers breed cooperatively, with non-mated birds helping raise the offspring of a mated pair. Cooperative breeding begins before eggs hatch, but more males help the breeding pair after hatching.

Feeding habits

Pied kingfishers primarily eat fish. Unlike other kingfishers, pied kingfishers swallow their fish in flight after plunging. There are 3 foraging behaviors displayed by C. rudis: hover-plunge, perch-plunge, and skimming. Hover-plunge occurs when a bird leaves a perch and progressively flies to lower and lower heights until it finally plunges into the water to pierce the prey. Perch-plunge is a tactic in which the bird sits on a perch waiting for a fish to swim close enough so that it can plunge directly into the water after a fish. With this method, a bird will increase its perch height with an increased depth of water. A skimming bird will fly close to the water about 100 m offshore, but little is known about this process because it is difficult to gather data on this hunting method. Still, this method makes pied kingfishers unique because they are the only species of kingfisher that will forage offshore. Pied kingfisher families have been seen to perch together when fishing, but these family units will often split up. Capture success rate is only 9 to 50%. More successful plunges usually take half the time of unsuccessful plunges. Pied kingfishers may also take aquatic insects, crustaceans, and ,more rarely, amphibians and mollusks. Adults will regurgitate three to four pellets of undigested bones per day, but hatchlings will digest most of the bones and regurgitate only one pellet per day, absorbing more calcium to support their own bone growth.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Pied Kingfisher status Least Concern


It is common throughout sub-Saharan AfricaAfrica
Africa is one of the greatest sized continents of the Earth. The Pacific Ocean, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea mostly surround Africa….
and southern AsiaAsia
Asia is the largest and most populous continent or region, depending on the definition. It covers 8.6% of the Earth’s total surface area, or 29.4% of its land area, and it contains more than 60% of the world’s human population….
from TurkeyTurkey
Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a Eurasian country that stretches across the Anatolian peninsula in Southwest Asia Asia and the Balkan region of Southeastern Europe Europe….
to IndiaIndia
India , officially the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries by area country by geographical area, the List of countries by population country, and the largest liberal democracy in the world….
to ChinaChina
China is a Culture of China and ancient civilization in East Asia. Due to the stalemate of the last Chinese Civil War following World War II, the word “China” is used today by two de facto separate states: the People’s Republic of China and…
. It is resident, and most birds do not migrateBird migration
Long-distance land bird migrationMany species of land migratory birds migrate very long distances, the most common pattern being for birds to breed in the temperate or arctic northern hemisphere and winter in warmer regions, often in the tropics or …
, other than seasonal movements.

Distribution map

Pied Kingfisher distribution range map

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