Sacred summer visitor

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The beautiful Sacred Kingfisher is making an appearance this Fauna Friday. Lately, a pair of Sacred Kingfishers, Todiramphus sanctus , have been greeting my customers and I, perched in the swamp sheoaks during our Wetland Wander walk at the Creery Wetlands Reserve in Mandurah.

Adult Sacred Kingfisher perched on branch
Adult Sacred Kingfisher. Image by The Ledge on Pixabay

Sacred Kingfishers are from the family Halcyonidae, and are referred to as a wood or forest kingfishers. Unlike its name suggests, the Sacred Kingfisher rarely dives for a fish meal. They do perch and dive, but mostly over land -their favourite prey being small skinks, crustaceans, insects and their larvae. Once prey is caught, the Sacred Kingfisher likes to return to its hunting perch where it will consume its prize.

The birds’ plumage is quite spectacular, with flashes of jewel-inspired colour. With their turquoise back, cobalt blue rump and tail, buff-white underparts, black eye stripe and a broad cream collar, the Sacred Kingfisher is indeed an impressive bird to spot and a treat to observe.

A breeding visitor, Sacred Kingfishers migrate to the Bindjareb region for spring and summer from habitats further north in WA where they overwinter. This north/south seasonal migration is common behaviour for Sacred Kingfishers right across Australia, although there are some populations in the north that are sedentary.

Juvenile Sacred Kingfisher perched on branch
Juvenile Sacred Kingfisher. Image by Vicki Nunn on Pixabay.

The birds pair up to breed during the summer and nest in a hollow branch or a burrow in either a termite mound or river bank. Breeding is a team effort, with the male and female excavating the nesting burrow, incubating the eggs and feeding the young. Perhaps it is this investment by both members of the pair that allows them to raise the usual two clutches a season.

So enjoy sharing our Bindjareb backyard with this special little jewelled visitor over the summer!