The azure kingfisher (Ceyx azureus ) is a small kingfisher in the river kingfisher subfamily, Alcedininae.
An Azure kingfisher is a small aquatic kingfisher. It has a long black beak and a whitish rear eye spot. This bird gets its name from its beautiful coloring, being dark glossy blue, its underside an orange-rufous; its legs and feet red. Males and females have very similar appearance and juveniles are less vibrant in color.
Azure kingfishers live in Tasmania, Northern and Eastern Australia, the lowlands of New Guinea and the neighboring islands, and North Maluku and Romang. These birds are generally sedentary, although they can perform some seasonal migration. Azure kingfishers live near streams and rivers, billabongs (small, stagnant lakes joined to waterways), swamps, mangroves, tidal estuaries, lagoons, and various other bodies of water that have low, overhanging branches.
Azure kingfishers hunt in the same way as most other kingfishers, by searching the water for prey from a low-lying branch, then diving swiftly, catching the prey, and returning to the branch. Then the bird flips its prey around until the head is in its mouth, so it can swallow its head first and whole to avoid being cut by the bones or scales. They can eat snakes in the same way. They are experts at diving deep for their prey. Their flight is direct and quick. They will often bob their head and move their wings in anticipation of sighting a fish. To catch a fish they stab it, with either a closed or open bill, depending on the prey’s size, and kill it by beating it on the ground or their perch to break the bones. They are most active in the morning and evening, but if it’s not too hot, they may also hunt in the afternoon. Most kingfisher species are solitary, only pairing up with a mate during the breeding season. Azure kingfishers are usually silent, but make a sharp, squeaky call when breeding. Their voice is a high-pitched, shrill 'pseet-pseet', often in flight.
Azure kingfishers are carnivores (piscivores). They mainly eat fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects, other invertebrates, and sometimes frogs.
Azure kingfishers are monogamous birds and form a pair that will defend a breeding territory. A pair builds its nest together, taking three to seven days to construct the tunnel. Kingfishers are fiercely territorial when defending their nests. Mating is from October to March. The female lays 5-7 glossy, white eggs. The eggs are incubated for three weeks by both parents. The chicks grow quickly. They are altricial (naked and helpless) on hatching and require constant feeding and care by their parents, who will bring the food to the nesting chamber. Soon the nestlings travel towards the tunnel entrance, where they meet their parents and wait to be fed. They fledge at around 30 days, from when they will feed themselves and be on their own.
Stock trampling vegetation near waterholes affects populations of this species. Human activities that result in artificial waterways flooding may drown these birds' nests. Murky water also has an effect on these birds, as does the introduction of European carp, as they compete for food resources.
According to IUCN, Azure kingfisher is widespread throughout its extremely large range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC), however, its numbers today are decreasing.