1542. Alcedo hercules

(1542) Alcedo hercules (Laubmann).
Alcedo hercules, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed, vol. iv, p. 259.
This grand Kingfisher occurs in the Lower Himalayas front Sikkim to Eastern Assam, Manipur and the Chin Hills. It has also been recorded from Hainan.
In 'Nests and Eggs’ there is a copy of an article of mine on the breeding of this Kingfisher, but since that paper was written I have seen in any more nesting-holes, while later Coltart also obtained more than one clutch of its eggs.
Over the greater part of its range it is most often to be met with between 2,000 and 3,000 feet, but in Lakhimpur we found it in the foot-hills and plains at 700 to 1,000 feet as well as higher up, while in Cachar we met with it fairly often up to 4,000 feet.
It keeps almost entirely to deep shady ravines and small water¬courses in tree-forest and, as it is a very silent bird, one sees or hears little of it. Sometimes a dark shadow flits rapidly past one in the gloom, suddenly turning to a gleam of brilliant blue as it glints in some splash of sunlight and then, as suddenly, it is gone again from sight and sound. All the nest-holes I have found, with one exception, were dug in banks of ravines, sometimes almost water¬less, or in the sides of tiny rivulets in dense forest. In most of these the ground was rather hard, the nest-holes being only 18 inches or 2 feet deep, ending in a chamber for the eggs between 6 to 8 inches either way and about 4 to 5 in height. The entrance tunnel was about 3 inches in diameter. When in light soils the tunnels were much deeper, and one made in the sandy bank of a small stream went a full 6 feet into the bank. The tunnels all sloped slightly upwards at first and then dropped again near the egg-chamber.
* Alcedo hercules of Laubmann is 1917, while megalia of Oberholser is 1910, two years later, and cannot be used.
The one exception referred to above was a tunnel dug in the bank of a small stream which for about 100 yards or less ran through an open piece of cultivation surrounded by forest. This nest was on the South or shady side of the stream and the entrance was tucked well away under an overhanging bank.
A similar nest to this last was taken by Coltart near Margherita, but this was even more in the open, no forest being within 200 yards of the nest.
Most nest-holes have a very considerable amount of insect and other ejected food-remains in the egg-chamber, and often scattered along the tunnel as well, smelling very vilely and so strongly that I have noticed the smell once or twice before opening out the nest.
The birds breed principally in April and May, and I have personally taken eggs from the 27th March to the 3rd June.
The number of eggs laid is four to six ; probably the latter is the usual full clutch, but I have taken four showing signs of incubation.
Forty-five eggs average 26.1 x 21.7 nun. : maxima 28.1 x 23.0 mm. ; minima 24.8 x 20.0 and 24.9 x 19.8 mm.
They, perhaps, average rather longer in proportion to their size than do most Kingfishers’ eggs.
The birds sit very close and, when once one has located the nest- hole and watched the bird on to it, it is easy to catch it by hand. Both birds incubate, for we have caught both on the eggs, hut I know nothing about the excavation of the nest-hole.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 3. 1934.
Title in Book: 
1542. Alcedo hercules
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Great Blue Kingfisher
Blyth's Kingfisher
Alcedo hercules
Vol. 3
Term name: 

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