1544. Ceyx erythaea erythaea

(1544) Ceyx erythaca erythaca (Linn.).
Ceyx tridactylus tridactylus Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iv, p. 260.
Ceyx erythaca Linn., Syst. Nat. 1758, p. 115 (Bengal).
This beautiful little Kingfisher occurs in Ceylon and the South¬-West of India as far North as Kanara, while it has also been obtained in the Sahyadri forests near Bombay. It is then again found in the sub-Himalayas from Nepal and Sikkim to Eastern Assam, extending into the foot-hills and adjacent plains. It is found over the whole of Burma and the Malay Peninsula to Sumatra and the Philippines, while to the East it is found in Siam and Cochin China to Hainan.
In most of its area it ascends the hills as high as 4,000 feet, but is more common between 2,000 and 3,000. It is a bird of ravines and rocky broken ground in evergreen forest, generally haunting those in which there is some running water. At other times it may be found on streams, some even of considerable size and quite free from overshadowing trees. On the whole, however, it prefers to live and breed in deep shade, being often found far from water of any kind.
The tunnel may be dug in almost any upright bank or the side of a stream or ravine. I have seen it made in the face of a vertical mossy bank, broken with rocks and with a trickle of water down the centre ; often I have found it in the sides of ravines, drilled in some bare spot where there is no vegetation ; once or twice I have found it in a bank overgrown with fems and balsams and no water anywhere near and, once only, I saw a pair of birds busy excavating their nest-hole in the bank of a stream fully 50 yards across and with high sandy sides. The tunnel is usually short, not more than 2 feet 6 inches or 3 feet, the width from 1.1/2 to 2.1/2 inches and generally under 2 inches. The chamber is big for the size of the bird and measures some 5 to 6 inches either way, with a height of 2 to 2.1/2 inches. I have never seen a great mass of fish-bones or insect-remains, though a few may be seen sometimes both in the chamber and in the tunnel, nor have I ever noticed any stench from the few I have seen.
The birds work at a great pace in soft sand, digging furiously with their beaks and throwing out the sand behind them with their feet. The two birds I watched in the stream had not got more than 2 inches into the bank when I arrived, but when I examined it forty minutes later it was about 10 inches deep. This sand was soft yet wet, and so particularly easy both to loosen and to throw out.
* This name antedates that of Alcedo tridactyla Pall., 1809.
On two or three occasions I have seen scraps of moss in the egg chamber, but these arc, I feel sure, only accidental, as they may appear on the floor of the tunnel just as often as in the chamber.
In Assam this little bird breeds in April and May and, then, some¬times again in July and August and, curiously enough, it seems to select the same months in Ceylon.
The eggs number four or five, occasionally six or even seven. They arc quite typical except in their shape, which is longer and more oval than is usual in this family, a few eggs such as those taken by Parker in Ceylon being almost pointed at the small end.
Thirty eggs average 18.9 x 15.6 mm. : maxima 20.0 x 16.4 mm. ; minima 18.0 x 15.5 mm.

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: 
1544. Ceyx erythaea erythaea
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Indian Three Toed Kingfisher
Ceyx erithaca erithaca
Vol. 3
Term name: 

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