1044. Halcyon smyrnensis.
The White-breasted Kingfisher.
Alcedo smyrnensis, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 181 (1766). Alcedo fusca, Bodd. Tail. Pl. Enl. p. 54 (1783). Halcyon smyrnensis, Sykes, P. Z. S. 1832, p. 84; Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. xi, p. 230; Blyth, Cat. p. 47; Sharpe, Mon. Ale. p. 161, pl. 59; Hume, S. F. i, p. 168; ii, p. 167; xi, p. 44; id. Cat. no. 129 ; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 74; Anderson, Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 579; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 298 ; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 82 ; Murray, Vert. Zool. Sind, p. 110; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 99; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 15; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xvii, p. 222. Halcyon fuscus, Horsf. & M. Cat. p. 125; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 224; Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 347. Halcyon saturatior, Hume, S. F. ii, pp. 168, 531; id. Cat. no. 129 bis; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xvii, p. 226.
Kilkila, H.: Nula muchrdla, Chamba; Khandu, Khandya, Mahr.; Sada-buk Machranga, Beng.; Lak-muka, Buche gadu, Tel. ; Vichuli, Tam.; Kalari Kuruvi, Tam. (Ceylon) ; Pelihuduwa, Cing.; Dane-nyin, Burm.
Coloration. Chin, throat, and middle of breast white, all the rest of head, neck, and lower plumage deep chestnut or chocolate-brown ; scapulars and interscapulary tract, tertiaries, outer webs of secondaries above, and upper surface of tail blue, generally with a greenish tinge;. lower back, rump, and upper tail-coverts brighter blue; greater wing-coverts duller and darker blue, median coverts black, lesser chestnut; secondary quills except on outer web above black ; ends of primaries, much longer on the outer than the inner, black, basal portion white, with the outer web above pale blue.
Bill dark red, the margins brownish; iris brown; legs coral-Ted (Oates).
Length about 11; tail 3.3; wing 4.7; tarsus .65; bill from gape 2.8.
The Andaman birds were distinguished by Hume as H. saturatior on account of their deep Coloration. the blue portion of the plumage being a darker blue and the chestnut parts chocolate-brown. The size too is rather large. But similarly coloured individuals, though rare, may be found in India and Ceylon.
Distribution. Throughout India, Burma, and Ceylon, except in the Himalayas, into which this species only penetrates up to a moderate elevation to the westward. It is generally rare or wanting on the higher hills of the Peninsula, though Davison obtained it on the Nilgiri plateau. Outside of India it ranges throughout the Malay Peninsula, Cochin China, &c, to Southern China, and westwards through Persia and Baluchistan to Asia Minor and Cyprus.
Habits, &c. This, like Alcedo ispida and Ceryle varia, is a common Indian bird, but its habits are very different from those of the other two Kingfishers, for though it occasionally, but rarely, catches fish by plunging after them, it lives chiefly on insects and small lizards, and sometimes on mice or land-crabs. It has a screaming cry, almost always uttered during flight. It breeds from March to July, laying 4 to 7 white rounded eggs in a chamber at the end of the usual burrow, which is generally made in the bank of a stream or tank, sometimes in a well, or on a cliff. In Cachar, however, Mr. E. C. Steuart Baker has described this bird as building a roughly constructed nest of moss amongst rocks or large stones. The eggs measure on an average 1.13 by 1.03.