Common Paradise Kingfisher

Information about the Bird Common Paradise Kingfisher

The common paradise kingfisher (Tanysiptera galatea), also known as the Galatea paradise kingfisher and the racquet-tailed kingfisher, is a species of bird in the family Alcedinidae. It is found in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests of Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Like all paradise kingfishers, it has a red bill and colourful plumage. The species is common and the IUCN has assessed its conservation status as being of "least concern".

The common paradise kingfisher was first described as Tanysiptera galatea by the English zoologist George Robert Gray in 1859. Four subspecies are recognised; T. g. galatea is the nominate subspecies and has a wide range over most of Papua New Guinea; T. g. meyeri occurs in northern New Guinea; T. g. minor occurs in the south and southeast of the island; and T. g. vulcani occurs on Manam Island.
This kingfisher has a red bill, a dark turquoise cap with brighter blue edges, blackish cheeks, and bluish-black upper parts. The under parts are white and the under-wing coverts are blue and white. The central tail feathers are elongated and their base is blue. It is similar in appearance to the buff-breasted paradise kingfisher (Tanysiptera sylvia) apart from the colour of the breast, and in some parts of Papua New Guinea, both birds coexist.
The bird is described in Alfred Russel Wallace's The Malay Archipelago (1869).
The common paradise kingfisher is found in the forested interior of New Guinea and on some of the offshore islands to the north. Its distribution is rather patchy and it mostly occurs below 500m (1,600ft) on the mainland and 820m (2,700ft) on Karkar Island. On some islands it is replaced by sister species; the Biak paradise kingfisher (T. riedelii) on Biak Island; the Kofiau paradise kingfisher (T. ellioti) on Kofiau Island; and the Numfor paradise kingfisher (T. carolinae) on Numfor Island. It seems that each of these island species originated from founding T. galatea birds which became isolated from the mainland birds and underwent a "genetic revolution". There were no particular biotic factors involved, but there was sufficient variation among the founding birds to encourage speciation, and the assortment of genes that the birds on each island received was later undisturbed by the inflow of alien genes.
This species is common and mostly non-migratory, although some birds move out of monsoon rainforest in the dry season. A pair will defend a territory of 0.3 to 0.5 hectares (0.7 to 1.2 acres). The nest is made in an active termite nest in a tree. This termite builds a termitarium against the tree trunk and the birds excavate a hole in its earthen wall which can be as much as 15cm (6in) long leading to a 13cm (5in) chamber at the end. They usually try several sites before selecting one. A clutch of about five eggs are laid between November and March and both parents care for the young.
The diet consists of such invertebrates as earthworms, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, centipedes and snails, and occasionally lizards. The bird perches upright on a low branch, remaining stationary for long periods, apart from occasionally twisting its head or flicking its tail. On seeing movement below, it swoops to the forest floor to pounce, returning with its prey to the branch. The victim may be dismembered, or subdued by bashing it against the branch. Some insects are plucked off foliage, while earthworms are sought by foraging through the leaf litter and probing the leafmould with its beak.
T. galatea has a very wide range and is reported to be common. The population trend for this bird is thought to be downward as logging takes place in its forest habitat, but the rate of decline is not great enough to cause concern and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of "least concern".

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