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Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher (Corythornis madagascariensis), Mantadia National Park, Madagascar

The Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher (Ispidina madagascariensis, syn. Ceyx madagascariensis) is endemic to the forests of Madagascar. It has a terrestrial (non-riverine) lifestyle and feeds on insects and other invertebrates. It is rather widely distributed and can be found both in eastern rain- and western dry forests. However, it is nowhere very common.


Within the large group of alcedinine (= Old World pygmy) kingfishers, only 4 species have the combination of a rufous coloured back, a bright orange bill and a dorso-ventrally flattened bill-shape. Traditional bird taxonomists tended to group these 4 species into one single clade. However, recent genetic evidence suggest that they are not closely related, and that their similar plumage colours, bill colours and bill shapes have convergently evolved as an adaptation to forest-bound life and insectivory (as opposed to the more widespread fish-eating lifestyle along rivers).


Accordingly, the Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher has now been re-classified into the genus Corythornis, together with 3 other dissimilar blue-backed African and Malagasy fish-eating kingfisher species.


The bird on this picture was found during a visit in Mantadia National Park. It was perched ca. 1,5 meters above ground, in dark forest understory. The picture was taken with a 1/9th second exposure (!), using a compact digital camera mounted on a telescope and a tripod.


Digiscoping with Swarovski ATM 80 HD 30 X, Coolpix P5100 (Adapter DCB)


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Taken on January 21, 2010