Friday, May 23, 2008

Kingfishers' king fishers

PLENTY of Australians live to fish, far fewer fish to live. Number among the latter, the Little Kingfisher, world's smallest. At 11-13cm it's barely more than half the size of the 'standard' Forest and Sacred species. And it is dwarfed by the Laughing Kookaburra (41-47cm) and the Blue-winged Kookaburra (38-40cm), which are giant kingfishers - and among a rare few Australian bird species to retain an Aboriginal name.

A Little Kingfisher (Alcedo pusilla) shares a branch with a White-lipped Green Tree Frog, a bird eater (see earlier post), but not usually a threat to an alert mature bird.

Most of Australia's 10 kingfisher species would as soon pounce on ground prey as dive into water for fish. A second exception to such preference is the Azure Kingfisher (Alcedo azurea), pictured in a so-so photo saved by a shaft of light.

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