This species was initially believed to be descended from an ancestral American green kingfisher which crossed the Atlantic Ocean about 1 million years ago (Fry and Fry, 2000). However, more recently, Moyle (2006) considered it more likely that the Pied Kingfisher and the American green kingfishers are derived from an Old World species, with the Pied Kingfisher or its ancestor losing the metallic coloration afterwards.
Distribution / Range
It is common throughout sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia from Turkey to China. It is resident, and most birds do not migrate, other than seasonal movements.
The Pied Kingfisher is estimated to be the world’s third commonest kingfisher, and is a noisy bird, unmissable within its range.
It is mainly a specialist fish-eater, although it will take crustaceans and large aquatic insects. It has evolved two unique strategies, shared by no other kingfishers. It usually hunts by hovering stationarily over the water and dives down bill first directly below to catch fish.
The Pied Kingfisher can also deal with prey without returning to a perch, and can, for example, catch a second fish, or eat small prey in flight. These adaptations mean that this kingfisher can hunt over the sea or in estuaries that lack the perches required by other kingfishers.
This approachable largish (25cm) bird is unmistakable, with its exclusively black-and-white plumage. Unlike some kingfishers, it is quite gregarious, and forms large roosts at night. It can be easily tamed.
Nesting / Breeding
Its nest is a hole in a bank, on its own or in a colony, where it lays 3-6 white eggs. As with all kingfishers, the nest of a Pied soon becomes unsanitary.