This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
The Kingfisher (Alcedo ispida), a member of the Fissirostral birds (Insessors), and type of the family Alcedinidae, is included in the sub-family Alcedininae. It is distinguished by the elongated stoutly formed, tetragonal bill, broad at the base, and terminating in an acute point, with its edges crenately-fimbriate, its length being disproportionate to that of the body, which, including the bill, is 7 in. The upper part of the head, the sides of the neck, and coverts of the wings are green, spotted with blue. The back is dark green, lower back and rump bright blue. Throat, white; and under-parts of the body a pale brown colour. The kingfisher frequents the banks of rivers and streams, and usually solitary, perching on the bough of a tree, stump or stone overhanging the water. From this vantage position it dives into the water, secures its prey with its feet, carries it to land, where it kills and swallows the fish entire, the scales and other indigestible parts being afterwards rejected in the form of round balls or masses. The nest is generally found in the banks of rivers, or in other situations near the water's edge, and in holes where the birds disgorge the indigestible portions of their food. On this the eggs are deposited and the female incubates there.
The eggs are from four to seven in number, remarkably round, and of pearly whiteness. The food of the kingfisher consists mainly of fish, but it also feeds largely on mollusca, Crustacea, leeches, and water insects, the birds, as beautiful as rare, sometimes breeding in the bank of a small stream where no fish live or are found within a considerable distance.