A small black and white
bird in the family of water kingfishers. It is the only member of the genus
Ceryle, with the binomial name Ceryle rudis. Like all other kingfishers, it can
be recognized by its large
head, long pointed bill, short legs and stubby tail, though it lacks the usual
bright colours. Yet,
it has developed two
unique abilities, shared by no other kingfishers, i.e.
to hunt in both salt and freshwater, and to eat small
prey in flight, without having to return to a perch. This allows it to hunt over
the sea or in estuaries that lack the perches needed by other kingfishers.
Its main diet is fish, though it also feeds on crustaceans and large aquatic
hunts by hovering over the water to spot prey (fig.), which
it then dives
for. Pied Kingfishers have a complex black-and-white
plumage, with a pronounced crest and a long white supercilium, as well as white
underparts, with two black bands on the side of the breast in males, whereas
females have only one black band on the breast (fig.).
Apart from the Americas, it is common throughout the tropical and
subtropical regions of the world, ranging from Africa in the West to southern
in the East, including Thailand, where it is known
nok kra-ten pak lak.