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The Elusive American Pygmy Kingfisher

Phil Torres



American Pygmy Kingfisher, Chloroceryle aenea aenea, at the Tambopata Research Center
Photo by Phil Torres


For anyone that enjoys birding, getting a photo of a kingfisher is always quite a challenge. They are found along hard-to-access rivers or bodies of water, are very quick and strong flyers, and they always seem to take flight just moments before getting your camera into focus.

Kingfishers are known for their excellent fishing abilities. Their beak and body can dive into water head first in pursuit of fish with such a splash-free efficiency that kingfishers actually inspired the design of modern bullet trains in Japan!

I was lucky enough to come across this American Pygmy Kingfisher, one of the rarer species in Tambopata, as it roosted just after dusk. While many kingfishers are found along larger rivers like the Tambopata, others can be found along smaller streams or, in this case, a caiman-filled swamp.

The American Pygmy Kingfisher and the Ringed Kingfisher are unique amongst other tropical kingfishers in that they also "hawk" for insects- capturing and eating insects in flight- along with the fishing.



Image by Phil Torres

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