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Pied Kingfisher

A small black and white bird in the family of water kingfishers. It is the only member of the genus Ceryle, with the binomial name Ceryle rudis. Like all other kingfishers, it can be recognized by its large head, long pointed bill, short legs and stubby tail, though it lacks the usual bright colours. Yet, it has developed  two unique abilities, shared by no other kingfishers, i.e. to hunt in both salt and freshwater, and to eat small prey in flight, without having to return to a perch. This allows it to hunt over the sea or in estuaries that lack the perches needed by other kingfishers. Its main diet is fish, though it also feeds on crustaceans and large aquatic insects. It hunts by hovering over the water to spot prey (fig.), which it then dives for. Pied Kingfishers have a complex black-and-white plumage, with a pronounced crest and a long white supercilium, as well as white underparts, with two black bands on the side of the breast in males, whereas females have only one black band on the breast (fig.). Apart from the Americas, it is common throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, ranging from Africa in the West to southern Asia and China in the East, including Thailand, where it is known as nok kra-ten pak lak.