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2011-07-01
Sacred Kingfisher - A striking tree kingfisher - Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Australasia and Indonesia.


The Sacred Kingfisher - Todiramphus sanctus - is a medium sized tree kingfisher. It has a turquoise back, turquoise blue rump and tail, buff-white underparts and a broad cream collar. There is a broad black eye stripe extending from bill to nape of neck. Both sexes are similar, although the female is generally lighter with duller upper parts. Young birds are similar to the female, but have varying amounts of rusty-brown edging to feathers on the collar and underparts, and buff edges on the wing coverts.

It is common throughout the coastal regions of mainland Australia and less common throughout Tasmania. The species is also found on islands from Australasia to Indonesia and New Zealand.

In Australia, it occurs in eucalyptus forests, melaleuca forests, woodlands and paperbark forests. In New Zealand, T. sanctus vagans shows altitudinal migration, with post-breeding movement from higher altitudes to the coast and also from forest to coast and open lands.

The Sacred Kingfisher feeds on insects, small crustaceans, fish, small rodents and reptiles but reports of it eating small finches are rare.

Sacred Kingfishers are mainly solitary, pairing only for the breeding season and lay about five eggs. Usually two clutches are laid in a season. Both sexes excavate the nest, which is normally a burrow in a termite mound, hollow branch or river bank. The nest chamber is unlined and can be up to 20m above the ground. Both sexes also incubate the eggs and care for the young.


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