ACS Distance Education UK
There are 208 species from 11 bird families that belong to the Order Coraciiformes; one of almost 30 different orders which birds are split into.
Amongst this arder are the following: Laughing Kookaburra, African Dwarf Kingfisher, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, European Roller, Oriental Dollarbird, Galatea Paradise Kingfisher, Belted Kingfisher, Ringed Kingfisher, Rainbow Bee-eater, Blue-crowned Motmot, Eurasian Hoopoe, Indian Grey Hornbill, Common Scimitarbill, Cuban Tody.
They are spread widely around the world (except for the Polar Regions), inhabiting areas such as farmlands, woodlands, savannahs, lowland watercourses (i.e. streams, rivers and lakes), scrubs, forest borders, coastal areas and marshlands.
These birds from this order generally have a large head compared to their body size. Generally brightly coloured plumage with some exceptions. Generally small feet with 4 toes: Three forward-facing toes (two of them joined together partially or fully) and one facing backward; well-developed perching abilities. Bills vary among the different species. Their size and weight varies immensely between the different birds from this order: They can be as light as 5-10 grams and 9-11 centimetres (i.e. some Todies, African Dwarf Kingfisher, Little Kingfisher) to as heavy as 7 kilograms and 100 centimetres (i.e. Southern Ground Hornbill).
All are carnivorous, eating mainly fish, amphibians, reptiles, some birds, spiders and insects, such as bees, wasps, ants and butterflies.)
Most of them are arboreal (some can spend their whole lives in trees). Among their foraging patterns, hawking is commonly seen; some Coraciiformes such as kingfishers have the habit of “beating up” their prey against a solid perch before they swallow them whole (such behaviour can be seen when hunting fish, lizards, bees or wasps). Most of the birds from this order are social and noisy.
They are mostly monogamous. They live and breed in large family units. Most Coraciiformes nest in tunnels or cavities such as ground burrows, cliffs burrows or rotten tree trunks. They can lay between 3-10 eggs per clutch and incubation is generally performed by both parents (i.e. in Eurasian Hoopoes, both parents bring food but only females incubate the eggs). The chicks hatch helpless, blind and naked, and leave the nest once they are ready to fly.
Many predators can threaten, including foxes, cats, snakes and other carnivores do prey, particularly on smaller birds in this order.
Many species face habitat loss and are threatened mainly by deforestation and by predation from introduced species.
The African Dwarf Kingfisher (Ispidina lecontei) is the world’s smallest kingfisher (10cm in length), and the Giant Kingfisher (Megaceryle maxima) is the largest. Todies feed their young at the highest rate in the world (chicks are fed approximately 140 times a day).