1533. Alcedo atthis bengalensis

(1533) Alcedo atthis bengalensis Gmelin.
THE COMMON INDIAN KINGFISHER.
Alcedo atthis bengalensis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iv, p. 250.
This beautiful little relation of our English Kingfisher is found over the greater part of Northern India ; from Sind on the West to Assam on the East ; from Nepal and Lower Sikkim in the North to the North-East Central Provinces and possibly the extreme Northern Deccan in the South, The birds of the outer ranges of the Kuman and Garhwal Terai seem also to be of this race.
As a rule this little Kingfisher prefers to make its nesting burrows on the banks of rivers and streams running through open country. cultivated, barren, or partly one and partly the other. I have, however, often taken the nests from the banks of streams running through forest and, also, more than once, in the sides of big tanks. A pair of birds in Dacca built in the stiff soil of a tank just outside my bungalow for three years in succession, each time making a fresh tunnel in the same face of the tank. They seem to breed at all heights from the plains up to about 5,000 feet. Osmaston found them breeding in Garhwal up to 4,000 ; Whymper took the eggs in Kuman at 3,000 feet, while in the South Assam hills they are common up to about 5,000 feet or as high as the streams afford suitable banks for breeding in.
The tunnels are not as a rule very long, though varying somewhat according to the soil. I have seen one as much as 6 feet long in firm sand, but anything over 4 feet is exceptional, while often they only run from 1 to 2 feet. The diameter of the entrance is about 2 inches or less and the size of the chamber 5 or 6 inches long by nearly as much in width. The height is not more than 3 inches. In most nest-holes the tunnels rise gradually, sometimes throughout their length, sometimes for part of the way only.
The collection of fish-bones so commonly found in the egg-chamber of the English bird is exceptional in this race. I have never seen it when the eggs were fresh, unless they were a second lot of eggs laid in a preoccupied nest. As incubation advances, and the hen is fed on the nest by the male, hones begin to accumulate, and these, of course, accumulate still faster when the young are hatched.
Over the greater part of the plains the birds breed in March and April, though odd nests may be found in Bengal in December and January. In the hills, where floods do not constitute the same danger as in the plains, most birds breed in May and June,
In India the normal dutch is six eggs, five and seven being quite common.
Forty eggs average 20.9 x 17.6 mm. : maxima 22.4 x 17.3 and 22.0 x 19.0 mm, ; minima 19.9 x 17.0 mm.
I have never been able to determine when the last egg of a clutch was laid and so fix the period of incubation. According to Witherby the fledgling period of the English bird is twenty-four days, and that of our bird would be the same or less. Both birds perform the duty of incubation as well as that of tunnelling.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 3. 1934.
Title in Book: 
1533. Alcedo atthis bengalensis
Spp Author: 
Gmelin.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
1533
Year: 
1934
Page No: 
405
Common name: 
Common Indian Kingfishek
M_ID: 
9302
M_SN: 
Alcedo atthis bengalensis
Volume: 
Vol. 3
Term name: 
id: 
14679

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