1033. Ceryle varia.
The Indian Pied Kingfisher.
Ceryle varia, Strickland, A. M. N. H. vi, p. 418 (1841); Salvad. Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. (2) iv, p. 585; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xvii, p. 112. Ceryle rudis, apud Blyth, Cat. p. 49; Horsf. & M. Cat. p. 131; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 232 ; Sharpe, Mon. Alc. p. 61, pl. 19 ; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yark. p. 179 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 170; iii, p. 52 ; xi, p. 47; id. Cat. no. 136; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 71; Hume Dav. S. F. vi, p. 85; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 288; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 580; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 77; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 8; Murray, Vert. Zool. Sind, p. 112 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 103; (nec Alcedo rudis, Linn.).
Koryala-Kilkila, H.; Phatka Mach ranga, Karikata, Beng.; Ung-ta-brik, Lepcha; Pelihuduwa Waturanuwa, Gomera Pelihuduwa, Cing.; Pane-nyin, Bu-dau-nen-jo, Burm.
Coloration. Male. Crown, nape, and small nuchal crest black, sparingly streaked with white; lores and a long supercilium white, a black eye-streak from the base of the bill to the ear-coverts, connected by a narrow black line with the black gorget; an imperfect white collar; back, scapulars, and wing-coverts black edged with white; rump-feathers white, with large black spots ; primaries with outer web and terminal portion of inner black, the rest white ; secondaries white, with irregular black markings forming imperfect bars ; tail-feathers white on the basal half and on the tip, a broad black band occupying the greater part of the distal half; lower parts, with cheeks and wing-lining, white; some small elongate spots forming a malar patch; two gorgets, the upper the broader, on the breast, and spots on the flanks forming an imperfect belt, black. There are often black spot's on the throat.
Females want the posterior black gorget and the anterior is interrupted in the middle.
Bill black; iris brown; legs and feet blackish ; soles pale (Legge).
Length about 11.7; tail 3; wing 5.5; tarsus .4; bill from gape 3.
The Indian bird has usually been referred to the African and "Western Asiatic C. rudis; but the latter differs in having the basal half of the tail-feathers more or less spotted with black, the black subterminal bands marked with large white spots, and the black marks on the throat and flanks less developed. The two are, however, only just separable.
Distribution. Common throughout India, Ceylon, and Burma in the plains, wherever there are rivers or large pieces of water, except in Tenasserim south of Amherst. This Kingfisher ranges east to China, but not west of Baluchistan, and does not inhabit the Himalayas, even to the westward, above a very moderate elevation.
Habits, &c. The Pied Kingfisher avoids forest, but is found haunting all waters in open country. It may be seen on tidal streams and creeks, on backwaters and even on the sea-shore, though it is more common inland on rivers, marshes, ditches, and tanks. It lives entirely on fish, for which it never plunges from a fixed perch, but it flies over the water, and hovers with its beak pointed downwards, at a height of frequently 15 or 20 feet above the surface, when it suspects the presence of a fish. It dives for its prey after hovering, but not unfrequently checks itself in its plunge and flies on, uttering from time to time a sharp twittering cry. It breeds from the end of January till April, and lays 4 to 6 white, glossy, broadly oval eggs at the end of a hole usually made in the perpendicular bank of a river. The eggs measure about 1.18 by .94.