Kingfishers are a group of small to medium sized brightly coloured birds in the order Coraciiformes. They have a cosmopolitan distribution, with most species being found in the Old World and Australasia. The group is treated either as a single family, Alcedinidae, or as a suborder Alcedines containing three families, Alcedinidae (river kingfishers), Halcyonidae (tree kingfishers), and Cerylidae (water kingfishers). There are roughly 90 species of kingfisher. All have large heads, long, sharp, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. Most species have bright plumage with little 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 as well as fish, usually caught by swooping down from a perch. Like other members of their order they nest in cavities, usually tunnels dug into the natural or artificial banks in the ground. A few species, principally insular forms, are threatened with extinction.
Famous quotes containing the word kingfisher:
Flies from his hunching wings and beakmy heart,
The blue kingfisher dives on you in fire.”
—Robert Lowell (19171977)