Species of Thailand

Blue-eared kingfisher

Alcedo meninting, Thomas Horsfield, 1821

(In Thai: นกกะเต็นน้อยหลังสีน้ำเงิน)

The blue-eared kingfisher (Alcedo meninting) is found in Asia, ranging across the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is found mainly in dense shaded forests where it hunts in small streams. It is darker crowned, with darker rufous underparts and lacking the rufous ear stripe of the common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) which is found in more open habitats. A number of subspecies have been described that differ in measurement and colour shade. Adult males have an all dark bill while females have a reddish lower mandible.

Taxonomy

The blue-eared kingfisher was described by the American naturalist Thomas Horsfield in 1821 and given its current binomial name Alcedo meninting. The name Alcedo is the Latin word for a "kingfisher". The specific epithet meninting is the Javanese word for the species. The blue-eared kingfisher is one of seven species in the genus Alcedo and is most closely related to Blyth's kingfisher (Alcedo hercules).

Several plumage variations in the population that occur across its wide distribution range have been recognized as subspecies:

  • A. m. coltarti Baker ECS, 1919 – Nepal, northeast India, northern Thailand and Indochina
  • A. m. phillipsi Baker ECS, 1927 – southwest India and Sri Lanka
  • A. m. scintillans Baker ECS, 1919 – southern Myanmar and Thailand
  • A. m. rufigastra Walden, 1873 – Andaman Islands
  • A. m. meninting Horsfield, 1821 – southern Malay Peninsula, Borneo, southern Philippines, Islands off the west coast of Sumatra, Java, Lombok, Sulawesi, Banggai and Sula Islands.

Some other subspecies such as verreauxii, callima, subviridis and proxima are not considered to be sufficiently distinct.

Description

This 16 cm long kingfisher is almost identical to the common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) but is distinguished by the blue ear coverts, darker and more intense cobalt-blue upperparts with richer rufous under parts. The juvenile blue-eared kingfisher has rufous ear-coverts as in the common kingfisher but it usually shows some mottling on the throat and upper breast which disappears when the bird reaches adulthood. Young birds have a reddish bill with whitish tips.

Distribution and habitat

The range of this species stretches from India in the west, eastwards across Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, and further into Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia. The usual habitat is pools or streams in dense evergreen forest and sometimes mangroves, situated under 1000 m of altitude.

Behaviour and ecology

The blue-eared kingfisher is largely resident within its range. They usually perch on branches overhanging densely shaded streams before diving below to capture prey that includes crustaceans, dragonfly larvae and fish. Other insects including grasshoppers and mantids have been recorded.

The breeding season in India is mainly May to June in northern India and January in southwestern India. The nest is a metre long tunnel in the bank of a forest stream where about five to seven white near spherical eggs are laid.

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Category / Seasonal Status

BCST Category: Recorded in an apparently wild state within the last 50 years

BCST Seasonal status: Resident or presumed resident

Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Coraciiformes
Family
Alcedinidae
Genus
Alcedo
Species
Alcedo meninting

Common names

  • Thai: นกกะเต็นน้อยหลังสีน้ำเงิน

Subspecies

  • Alcedo meninting coltarti, Edward Charles Stuart Baker, 1919

    Range: Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand and Indochina and includes laubmanni Mathews, 1925 of eastern India

  • Alcedo meninting meninting, Thomas Horsfield, 1821

    Range: Islands off the west coast of Sumatra, Java, Lombok, Sulawesi, Banggai and Sula Islands.

  • Alcedo meninting phillipsi, Edward Charles Stuart Baker, 1927

    Range: Sri Lanka which are said to be larger and darker blue. Some authors restrict this to the Sri Lankan population while some older authors extend its range into the southern Western Ghats of India.

  • Alcedo meninting rufigastra, Walden, 1873

    Range: Andaman Islands which is greener on the upper blue parts.

  • Alcedo meninting scintillans, Edward Charles Stuart Baker, 1919

    Range: Southern Burma and Thailand

  • Alcedo meninting verreauxii, De La Berge, 1851

    Range: Malaysia to Riau Archipelago east through Borneo and the Sulu Islands.

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Photos

Blue-eared kingfisher
Blue-eared kingfisher (male)
Blue-eared kingfisher (male)
Blue-eared kingfisher
Blue-eared kingfisher

Range Map

Distribution map of Blue-eared kingfisher, Alcedo meninting in Thailand
Range map of Alcedo meninting in Thailand