The water kingfishers or Cerylidae are one of the three families of kingfishers, and are also known as the cerylid kingfishers. All six American species are in this family.
These are all specialist fish-eating species, unlike many representatives of the other two families, and it is likely that they are all descended from fish-eating kingfishers which founded populations in the New World. It was believed that the entire group evolved in the Americas, but this seems not to be true. The original ancestor possibly evolved in Africa - at any rate in the Old World - and the Chloroceryle species are the youngest ones.
Not longer than 5 million years ago - possibly as recently as 2.9 million years ago -, an Old World giant kingfisher became the ancestor of the Belted and Ringed Kingfishers, and later, another species related to the Pied Kingfisher became the ancestor of the Chloroceryle green kingfishers after colonizing the Americas. While the evolutionary history of the Water Kingfishers in regard to their internal relationships is well resolved, it is not entirely clear whether they evolved from river kingfishers or tree kingfishers, and whether they immigrated across the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean (though the former seems more likely).
There are 9 water kingfisher species in three genera:
- The four large crested kingfishers, Megaceryle, have a wide distribution in Africa, Asia and America. The Belted Kingfisher, M. alcyon, is the only kingfisher that is widespread in North America, though M. torquata may be found as far north as Texas and Arizona.
- Giant Kingfisher (Megaceryle maxima)
- Crested Kingfisher (Megaceryle lugubris)
- Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)
- Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata)
- The Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), the only member of Ceryle, is widespread in the tropical regions of the Old World.
- The four American green kingfishers (Chloroceryle) of tropical America.
- Amazon Kingfisher (Chloroceryle amazona)
- Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana)
- Green-and-rufous Kingfisher (Chloroceryle inda)
- American Pygmy Kingfisher (Chloroceryle aenea)
Other articles related to "water kingfisher, water kingfishers, kingfisher":
... Water Kingfishers are medium sized birds with large heads, long pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails ... Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon Ringed Kingfisher, Megaceryle torquatus (A) ...