Bird watching in Bhopal during the Covid-19 lockdown… Never thought we would live to see days like these. But even with all the glum news all around, nature seems to be finding ways to cheer up the hearts of us nature lovers. Spotting this White Throated Kingfisher was one such moment.
White Throated Kingfishers are spotted easily, perching on electricity supply wires and open perches. That is how we spotted this fella, fully engrossed in what seems to be a hearty meal. But then we looked a little closer – “Could this be true? How could he be doing this!”
There it was, happily trying to slurp up this SUPER HUGE SNAKE, as if it came from some weird Chinese Hakka-noodles breakfast bowl. And for the life of us, we couldn’t understand how this kingfisher could fit such a ginormous creature inside its seemingly small body. For a while, it had us thinking about Hermione’s magic bag from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – a tiny purse that she had enchanted to fit just about anything inside, irrespective of its size.
Shrugging ourselves back to reality, we whipped out our camera and were able to capture the moment of this white throated kingfisher feeding on a snake, just as it was about to suck in the last bit of its meal. I don’t think any of us will be able to see a plate of chowmein the same way ever again!
The White Throated Kingfisher, also known as White Breasted Kingfisher, is a large kingfisher that is commonly seen perching on electricity wires, exposed branches and rocks. The bird is known to hunt large crustaceans, worms, rodents, fish, frogs and even snakes (as we saw in the above video). It is also known to hunt smaller sized birds like munias, sparrows, oriental white eyes and even juveniles of larger birds. The focus and balance it exhibits while spotting prey in the water and catching fish is known to be legendary!
White Throated Kingfishers are categorised into four geographical races, differentiated by their sizes, shade of blue and white and the locations in which they are found. Three of these sub species – Halcyon Smyrnensis fusca, Halcyon Smyrnensis Perpulchra and Halcyon Smyrnensis Saturatior are found in India. In fact, the Halcyon Smyrnensis Saturatior is found only in the Andaman Islands.
White Throated Kingfishers are typically large sized kingfishers that can be 27–28 cm in length. Adult birds have a bright blue back, wings and tail with a white throat and breast and chestnut coloured head, shoulders and flanks. The Kingfisher’s bill is bright red and large, adapted to scoop up prey like fish and worms, even from the water. Its feet and beak are bright red in colour with large black-brown eyes. Juveniles are usually duller versions of the adult bird.
- # White throated kingfishers have a rapid and direct flight – an adaptation that helps the bird in hunting fast moving prey.
- # These birds are known to breed as the monsoon arrives in the country.
- # Kingfishers nest in tunnel like structures that they create by digging in earth banks, mud walls and even haystacks.
- # White Breasted Kingfishers are the state bird of West Bengal.