Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Kingfisher, any species of the family Alcedinidi-E, with nineteen genera, containing about 125 species, universally distributed. There are two sub-families. In the typical one the bill is long and powerful, with a ridge on the upper mandible. The legs are weak, but the toes, united for part of their length, are well adapted for perching, and the flight is strong and rapid. The Common Kingfisher (Alcedo ispida) is a fairly common British bird, chiefly frequenting the south of England. The total length is about 7 inches, and the plumage, chiefly blue and green, with brilliant metallic gloss. It usually dives for its prey from a bough overhanging a stream; and the fish taken not only serves for food - from the disgorged bones is built the nest, which is situated at the end of a hole in the bank. This bird is the halcyon of classic myth, the widowed Alcyone who shared the transformation of her husband Ceyx (Ovid, Met. xi.). The Dacelonina?, the second sub-family, have a, stouter and flatter bill, and feed on insects, frogs, mice, etc. The typegenus Dacelo inhabits Australia and New Guinea. The best-known species is B. gigas (" the Laughing Jackass"), about the size of a crow, with chestnut plumage, barred with light blue on the wings. Its note is a wild, unearthly laugh.