Kingfishers of Vietnam – Alcedinidae

With 12 species Kingfishers of Vietnam, occurring over the country. It can be said that this type of bird is the most wanted family that birders all over the world come to Vietnam found to see and take pictures. Two jewels species are Banded Kingfisher and Black-backed Kingfisher appear at the top of any birders wish list.

You may know 12 species in Vietnam although not any species are endemic and not so many species like Plovers family. But you can always see them even when you live in the biggest city in Vietnam because they are one of the highest-density species in Vietnam.

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The overview of Kingfishers families

Kingfishers are a family, the Alcedinidae, of small to medium-sized, brightly colored birds in the order Coraciiformes. They have a cosmopolitan distribution, with most species found in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Oceania, but also can be seen in Europe. They can be found in deep forests near calm ponds and small rivers. The family contains 116 species and is divided into three subfamilies and 19 genera. All kingfishers have large heads, long, sharp, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. Most species have bright plumage with only small differences between the sexes. Most species are tropical in distribution, and a slight majority are found only in forests.

They consume a wide range of prey usually caught by swooping down from a perch. While kingfishers are usually thought to live near rivers and eat fish, many species live away from water and eat small invertebrates. Like other members of their order, they nest in cavities, usually tunnels dug into the natural or artificial banks in the ground. Some kingfishers nest in arboreal termite nests. A few species, principally insular forms, are threatened with extinction. In Britain, the word “kingfisher” normally refers to the common kingfisher.

12 Kingfishers Of Vietnam
12 Kingfishers Of Vietnam 24

The smallest species of kingfishers is the African dwarf kingfisher (Ispidina lecontei), which averages 10 cm (3.9 in) in length and between 9 and 12 g (0.32 and 0.42 oz) in weight. The largest kingfisher in Africa is the giant kingfisher (Megaceryle maxima), which is 42 to 46 cm (17 to 18 in) in length and 255–426 g (9.0–15.0 oz) in weight. The familiar Australian kingfisher, known as the laughing kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae), is the heaviest species, with females reaching nearly 500 g (18 oz) in weight.

The plumage of most kingfishers is bright, with green and blue being the most common colours. The brightness of the colours is neither the product of iridescence (except in the American kingfishers) or pigments, but is instead caused by the structure of the feathers, which causes scattering of blue light (the Tyndall effect). In most species, no overt differences between the sexes exist; when differences occur, they are quite small (less than 10%).

The kingfishers have long, dagger-like bills. The bill is usually longer and more compressed in species that hunt fish, and shorter and more broad in species that hunt prey off the ground. The largest and most atypical bill is that of the shovel-billed kookaburra, which is used to dig through the forest floor in search of prey. They generally have short legs, although species that feed on the ground have longer tarsi. Most species have four toes, three of which are forward-pointing.

The irises of most species are dark brown. The kingfishers have excellent vision; they are capable of binocular vision and are thought in particular to have good colour vision. They have restricted movement of their eyes within the eye sockets, instead using head movements to track prey. In addition, they are capable of compensating for the refraction of water and reflection when hunting prey underwater, and are able to judge depth under water accurately. They also have nictitating membranes that cover the eyes to protect them when they hit the water; the pied kingfisher has a bony plate, which slides across the eye when it hits the water.

You may like: Cat Tien National Park all infomation

Alcedinidae of Vietnam species note

Kingfishers Of Vietnam

Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata

Status: Uncommon Pass Migrant – Vulnerable

Best time to watch & Photo: Feb-Apr

Tour cover: Throughout

Hotspot: Tram Chim, Cat Tien, Yok Don

Add a subheading 37 WANEE asia

Blyth’s Kingfisher Alcedo hercules

Status: Scarce resident – Near Threatened

Best time to watch & Photo: Feb-Apr

Tours: Central Vietnam

Hotspot: Da Lat Plateau, Bach Ma

Add a subheading 38 WANEE asia

Black-backed Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca

Status: Uncommon resident

Best time to watch & Photo: Feb-Apr

Tours: Exclude Northern Vietnam

Hotspot: Ma Da, Cat Tien, Cuc Phuong

Add a subheading 39 WANEE asia

Banded Kingfisher Lacedo pulchella

Status: Uncommon resident

Best time to watch & Photo: Feb-Apr

Tours: South & South of Central Vietnam

Hotspot: Cat Tien, Tan Phu, Da Lat Plateau

Add a subheading 40 WANEE asia

Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis

Status: Uncommon resident

Best time to watch & Photo: Feb-Apr

Tours: Coastline Central & South Vietnam

Hotspot: Cat Tien, Bach Ma, Xuan Thuy

31 WANEE asia

Crested Kingfisher Megaceryle lugubris

Status: Common resident

Best time to watch & Photo: Feb-Apr

Tours: Central Highland & Northern Vietnam

Hotspot: Yok Don, Bach Ma, Xuan Thuy

32 1 WANEE asia

Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting

Status: Common Resident

Best time to watch & Photo: Feb-Apr

Tours: Exclude Northern Vietnam

Hotspot: Tram Chim, Cat Tien, Yok Don

33 WANEE asia

Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis

Status: Common Resident

Best time to watch & Photo: Jun-Aug

Tours: South & South Central Vietnam

Hotspot: Yok Don, Ma Da, Bach Ma

34 WANEE asia

Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda

Status: Common Pass Migrant

Best time to watch & Photo: Feb-Apr

Tour: Exclude Highland & Mekong Delta

Hotspot: Cuc Phuong, Xuan Thuy, Cat Tien

List of all Kingfishers in Vietnam

1Blyth’s KingfisherHard
2Common KingfisherEasy
3Blue-eared KingfisherMaybe
4Black-backed Dwarf-KingfisherMaybe
5Banded KingfisherMaybe
6Stork-billed KingfisherMaybe
7Ruddy KingfisherLack Data
8White-throated KingfisherEasy
9Black-capped KingfisherMaybe
10Collared KingfisherEasy
11Crested KingfisherHard
12Pied KingfisherEasy

Note: Hard – Really hard to see; Maybe – …..; Easy – Easy to see with guide; Impossible – Weak info; Lack Data – Consider out of list

All Vietnam Birds Families

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