Sunday, July 21, 2013

Creature Feature: Rufous-backed Kingfisher.

Some readers are bound to ask: what's the deal with the URL of this blog? Originally, it was intended to push the boundaries of fantasy and reality, showing how "mythological" things could either be real or have a solid basis in reality. Since this blog has covered phoenix bases in the past, I feel pretty safe putting this little bird up:

This is a rufous-backed kingfisher (Cyex rufidorsa), so named for its reddish back. It's native to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. It eats fish, insects, frogs, and reptiles. The bird is small enough to fit in one's hand.  Unlike many entries from steamy rainforests, this little bird is not even remotely endangered. The only threat it faces is a slight decline due to habitat destruction.

The rufous-backed kingfisher does not seem real. It's bright red and purple, like a little phoenix. Its head is disproportionately large compared to its body. The bill is particularly huge. It's adorable and psychedelic. This should be a Pokemon; make it a baby Moltres and it'll sell like hotcakes (pun totally intended).

The rufous-backed kingfisher's appetite is just as extraordinary as its coloration. Thesebirds will hunt a number of things from high perches overlooking water, then dive in after them; that's how kingfishers roll and should be no surprise. What's more surprising is that it's not afraid to eat things twice its size. How does it pack all that fish into its little stomach? Probably very carefully.

There is some confusion when classifying this kingfisher. Another species, Ceyx erithaca, was discovered first. Both are properly "Oriental Dwarf Kingfishers," depending on whom you ask. They also overlap in some areas, leaving one to wonder if there's a difference aside from color. Whatever you call it, it's quite remarkable for a little bird, no?

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