Pied Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher, Ceryle rudis

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Bill length48–67mm48–65mm

Scientific name: Ceryle rudis




Call: A vocal kingfisher, often heard before it is seen. The commonest call is a high-pitched, chattering, rather squeaky ‘kwik’, repeated at irregular intervals, and given in flight and at perch. A threat call — uttered frequently, since territorial interactions are commonplace - is a highpitched, staccato ‘chicker-kerker’, given irregularly. Something like it is used also during communal courtship displays. There is no song. A ‘kittle-te-ker’ is uttered when a bird flies from its perch, and is repeated every 1–2 seconds during flight. Several other special-function calls have been described[4].

Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives 2.5 license Audio by: Marc de Bont




Similar species:

Other names:


[1] Carroll, R. W. (1988). Birds of the Central African Republic. Malimbus, 10(2), 177-200.

[2] Douthwaite, R. J. (1973). Pied kingfisher Ceryle rudis populations. Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, 44(2), 89-94. doi: 10.1080/00306525.1973.9632621

[3] Douthwaite, R. J. (1976). Fishing techniques and foods of the Pied Kingfisher on Lake Victoria in Uganda. Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, 47(4), 153-160. doi: 10.1080/00306525.1976.9639555

[4] Douthwaite, R. J. (1978). Breeding biology of the Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis on Lake Victoria. Journal of the East Africa Natural History Society, 31(166), 1-12.

[5] Douthwaite, R. J. (1982). Changes in Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) feeding related to endosulfan pollution from tsetse fly control operations in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Journal of Applied Ecology, 19(1), 133-141.

[6] Flint, V. E., Boehme, R. L., Kostin, Y. V., & Kuznetsov, A. A. (1984). A field guide to birds of the USSR: including Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

[7] Fry, C. H. (1980). The evolutionary biology of kingfishers (Alcedinidae). Living Bird, 18, 113-160.

[8] Fry, C. H. (1980). The origin of Afrotropical kingfishers. Ibis, 122(1), 57-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.1980.tb00871.x

[9] Fry, C. H., Fry, K., & Harris, A. (1992). Kingfishers, bee-eaters and rollers: A handbook. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

[10] Fry, C. H., Keith, S., Urban, E. K., Woodcock, M. W., Willis, I., & Chappuis, C. (1988). The birds of Africa (Vol. 3). London, UK: Academic Press.

[11] Grimmett, R., Inskipp, C., & Inskipp, T. (1999). Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

[12] Harrison, C. J. O., & Fisher, C. (1982). An atlas of the birds of the western Palaearctic. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

[13] Hockey, P. A. R. (1997). Africa’s kingfishers: A guide to their identification. Africa — Birds & Birding, 2(1), 61-65.

[14] Jackson, S. (1984). Predation by pied kingfishers and white-breasted cormorants on fish in the Kosi estuary system. Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, 55(3), 113-132. doi: 10.1080/00306525.1984.9633621

[15] Junor, F. J. R. (1972). Offshore fishing by the Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis at Lake Kariba. Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, 43, 185.

[16] Mukherjee, A. K. (1975). Food-habits of water-birds of the Sundarban, 24 Parganas district, West Bengal, India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 72, 85-109.

[17] Pring-Mill, F. (1974). Report of Oxford University expedition to Kashmir 1974. (The feeding behaviour of kingfishers on the Dal Lakes at Srinagar, Kashmir). Bulletin of the Oxford University Explorers Club, 23, 1-49.

[18] Reyer, H.-U. (1980). Flexible helper structure as an ecological adaptation in the pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis rudis L.). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 6(3), 219-227. doi: 10.1007/BF00569203

[19] Reyer, H.-U. (1980). Sexual dimorphism and cooperative breeding in the striped kingfisher. Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, 51(2), 117-118.

[20] Reyer, H.-U. (1984). Investment and relatedness: A cost/benefit analysis of breeding and helping in the pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis). Animal Behaviour, 32(4), 1163-1178. doi: 10.1016/S0003-3472(84)80233-X

[21] Reyer, H.-U. (1986). Breeder-helper-interactions in the pied kingfisher reflect the costs and benefits of cooperative breeding. Behaviour, 96(3/4), 277-303.

[22] Reyer, H.-U., & Westerterp, K. (1985). Parental energy expenditure: A proximate cause of helper recruitment in the pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 17(4), 363-369. doi: 10.1007/BF00293214

[23] Robson, C. (2002). Birds of Thailand. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

[24] Robson, C., & Allen, R. (2005). Birds of Southeast Asia: Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

[25] Sinclair, I., Hockey, P. A. R., Tarboton, W. R., Hayman, P., & Arlott, N. (1995). Illustrated guide to the birds of southern Africa. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

[26] Tjømlid, S. A. (1973). Food preferences and feeding habits of the Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis. Ornis Scandinavica, 4(2), 145-151. doi: 10.2307/3676115

[27] van Someren, V. G. L. (1956). Days with birds: Studies of habits of some East African species. Fieldiana. Zoology, 38. doi: 10.5962/bhl.title.3251

[28] Whitfield, A. K., & Blaber, S. J. M. (1978). Feeding ecology of piscivorous birds at Lake St Lucia, Part 1: Diving birds. Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, 49(4), 185-198. doi: 10.1080/00306525.1978.9634097

[29] Williams, J. G., Arlott, N., & Peterson, R. T. (1980). A field guide to the birds of East Africa. London, UK: Collins.


Chris Pienaar's Kingfisher Gallery

Pied Kingfishers: Breeding display

The Internet Bird Collection: Photos, videos, and sounds

VIREO: Visual Resources for Ornithology

Pied Kingfisher Subspecies
Scientific name Range
Ceryle rudis rudis Africa south of the Sahara, Egypt to Iran and Turkey
Ceryle rudis insignis E China (south of Yangtze River Valley) and Hainan
Ceryle rudis leucomelanurus Kashmir and ne Afghanistan to India and Indochina
Ceryle rudis travancoreensis Extreme sw India (Cape Comorin to n Kerala)

Data sources:

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