Silvery kingfisher (Alcedo argentata)
|Size||Length: 14 cm (2)|
Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
This tiny yet distinctive kingfisher, with largely black and white plumage, is found only near small streams and rivers in the Philippines. There are two subspecies of the silvery kingfisher; Alcedo argentata argentata and Alcedo argentata flumenicola (2). A.a. argentata has a black head with silvery white spots, black wings and a silvery white back. The throat and belly are also a silvery white, and the breast is blackish with a blue sheen. A.a. flumenicola is smaller, with a purplish wash on the underparts, and a creamy-coloured throat (2). The dagger-like bill is black and the legs are a startling bright orange-red (2).
Endemic to the Philippines. A.a. argentata inhabits the islands of Dinagat, Siarao, Mindanao and Basilan, while A.a. flumenicola can be found on Samar, Leyte and Bohol (2) (3).
The silvery kingfisher is generally found on rocks and along banks of forest streams and small rivers. It also inhabits pools adjacent to forest, primarily below 1,000 meters (2) (3).
Like other kingfishers, the silvery kingfisher makes spectacular dives into the water to capture its prey. It sits still on a low perch, watching carefully for the movement of a small fish or crab. When spotted, it dives into the water and returns to its perch with its meal (2) (3). Kingfishers often stun their slippery prey by beating it on a hard surface to make it easier to control and swallow (4).
The silvery kingfisher nests in holes in streamside banks. Information regarding its breeding biology is limited to a female with an enlarged ovary collected in May, and juveniles collected in April to May (2), therefore its is assumed that eggs are laid in February and March (5).
The silvery kingfisher was once much more widespread and common, but numbers have reduced rapidly as a result of loss and degradation of lowland forest (2). On Mindanao, only 29 percent of the forest cover remains, whilst on Bohol just six percent is still standing (6). These remnant forest patches continue to be cleared, with most remaining forests being leased to logging concessions or covered by mining applications, the acceptance of which would give companies the right to clear forests (6). Deforestation causes soil erosion, increasing siltation in the streams and rivers; while mining and the increased use of fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides by farmers pollutes the waterways of the Philippines creating a habitat unsuitable for the silvery kingfisher (6) (7). The forest at Bisling, Mindanao, is an important site for the silvery kingfisher, but it is being cleared and replanted with exotic trees for paper production (5). Even protected areas are not safe from these threats; Rajah Sikatuna National Park on Bohol is also being impacted by tree-cutting, agricultural expansion and soil erosion (2)
The silvery kingfisher occurs in a few protected areas, such as Rajah Sikatuna National Park on Bohol, and Agusan Marsh Protected Area on Mindanao (2). However, as mentioned above, this appears to offer only nominal protection. The establishment of further protected areas has been proposed (7), but these, and existing areas, need to be carefully managed and protection enforced if the beautiful silvery kingfisher is to survive (2)
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- Endemic: a species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- Subspecies: a population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
IUCN Red List (September, 2007)
- del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2001) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol.6: Mousebirds to Hornbills. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
- Kennedy, R.S., Gonzales, P.C., Dickinson, E.C., Miranda Jr, H.C. and Fisher, T.H. (2000) A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
- BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
- BirdLife International. (2003) Saving Asia's Threatened Birds: a Guide for Government and Civil Society. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
BirdLife International (October, 2007)