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The Kingfishers are distributed universally, but very unequally, over the globe, and in this respect present some of the most curious anomalies to be found among birds. They have their metropolis in the eastern half of the Malay Archipelago (our first Australian sub-region), from Celebes to New Guinea, in which district no less than 13 out of the 19 genera occur, 8 of them being peculiar; and it is probable that in no other equally varied group of universal distribution, is so large a proportion of the generic forms confined to so limited a district. From this centre kingfishers decrease rapidly in every direction. In Australia itself there are only 4 genera with 13 species; the whole Oriental region has only 6 genera, 1 being peculiar; the Ethiopian also 6 genera, but 3 peculiar; and each of these have less than half the number of species possessed by the Australian region. The Palaearctic region possesses only 3 genera, all derived from the Oriental region; but the most extraordinary deficiency is shown by the usually rich Neotropical region, which possesses but a single genus, common to the larger part of the Eastern Hemisphere, and the same genus is alone found in the Nearctic region, the only difference being that the former possesses eight, while the latter has but a single species. These facts almost inevitably lead to the conclusion that America long existed without kingfishers; and that in comparatively recent times (perhaps during the Miocene or Pliocene period), a species of the Old World genus, Ceryle, found its way into North America, and spreading rapidly southward along the great river-valleys has become differentiated in South America into the few closely allied forms that alone inhabit that vast country—the richest in the world in fresh-water fish, and apparently the best fitted to sustain a varied and numerous body of kingfishers.

The names of the genera, with their distribution and the number of species in each, as given by Mr. Sharpe in his excellent monograph of the family, is as follows:—

Alcedo (9 sp.), Palseavctic, Ethiopian, and Oriental regions (but absent from Madagascar), and extending into the Austro-Malayan sub-region; Corythornis (3 sp.), the whole Ethiopian region; Alcyone (7 sp.), Australia and the Austro-Malayan sub-region, with one species in the Philippine Islands ; Ceryle (13 sp.), absent only from Australia, the northern half of the Palaearctic region, and Madagascar; Pdargopsis (9 sp.), the whole Oriental region, and extending to Celebes and Timor in the Austro-Malayan subregion ; Ceyx (11 sp.),the Oriental region and Austro-Malayan subregion, but absent from Celebes, and only one species in continental India and Ceylon; Ceycopsis (1 sp.), Celebes; Myioceyx (2 sp.), West Africa; Ipsidina (4 sp.), Ethiopian region; Syma (2 sp.), Papua and North Australia; Halcyon (36 sp.), Australian, Oriental, and Ethiopian regions, and the southern part of the Palsearctic; Dacelo (6 sp.), Australia and New Guinea; Todir'hamphus (3 sp), Eastern Pacific Islands only; Monachalcyon (1 sp.), Celebes; Caridonax (1 sp.), Lonibok and Flores; Carcineutes (2 sp.), Siam to Borneo and Java; Tanysiptera (14 sp.), Moluccas New Guinea, and North Australia (Plate X. Vol. I. p. 414); Cittura (2 sp.), Celebes group; Melidora (1 sp.), New Guinea.

Family 68.—BUCEROTIDI^E. (12 Genera, 50 Species.) General Distribution.

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The Hornbills form an isolated group of generally large-sized birds, whose huge bills form their most prominent feature. They are popularly associated with the American Toucans, but have no close relationship to them, and are now generally

----- -----considered to show most resemblance, though still a very distant one, to the kingfishers. They are abundant in the Ethiopian and Oriental regions, and extend eastward to the Solomon Islands. Their classification is very unsettled, for though they have been divided into more than twenty genera they have not yet been carefully studied. The following grouping of the genera—referring to the numbers in the Hand List-must therefore be considered as only provisional :

(1967 1968 1963) Buceros (6 sp.), all Indo-Malaya, Arakan, Nepal and the Neilgherries (Plate IX. Vol. I. p. 339) ; (1959 – 1961) Hydrocissa (7 sp.), India and Ceylon to Malaya and Celebes ; (1962) Berenicornis (2 sp.), Sumatra and West Africa; (1964) Calao (3 sp.), Tennaserim, Malaya, Moluccas to the Solomon Islands; (1365) Aceros (1 sp.), South-east Himalayas ; (1966 1967) Cranorrhinus (3 sp.), Malacca, Sumatra, Borneo, Philippines, Celebes; (1969) Penelopides (1 sp.), Celebes ; (1969 – 1971) Tockus (15 sp.), Tropical and South Africa ; (1972) Rhinoplax (1 sp.), Sumatra and Borneo; (1973 – 1975) Bycanistes (6 sp.), West Africa with East and South Africa ; (1976 1977) Meniceros (3 sp.), India and Ceylon to Tenasserim ; (1978) Bucorrus (2 sp.), Tropical and South Africa.

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The Hoopoes form a small and isolated group of semi-terrestrial insectivorous birds, whose nearest affinities are with the Hornbills. They are most characteristic of the Ethiopian region, but extend into the South of Europe and into all the continental divisions of the Oriental region, as well as to Ceylon, and northwards to Pekin and Mongolia.

FAMILY 70.—IRRISORIDÆ. (1 Genus, 12 Species.)




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The Irrisors are birds of generally metallic plumage, which have often been placed with the Epunachidæ and near the Sunbirds, or Birds of Paradise, but which are undoubtedly allied to the Hoopoes. They are strictly confined to the continent of Africa, ranging from Abyssinia to the west coast, and southward to the Cape Colony. They have been divided into several subgenera which it is not necessary here to notice (Plate IV. Vol. I. p. 261).

FAMILY 71.–PODARGIDÆ. (3 Genera, 20 Species.)






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The Podargidæ, or Frog-mouths, are a family of rather largesized nocturnal insectivorous birds, closely allied to the Goatsuckers, but distinguished by their generally thicker bills, and especially by hunting for their food on trees or on the ground, instead of seizing it on the wing. They abound most in the Australian region, but one genus extends over a large part of the Oriental region. The following are the genera with their distribution :

Podargus (10 sp.), Australia, Tasmania, and the Papuan Islands (Plate XII. Vol. I. p. 441); Batrachostomus (6 sp.), the Oriental region (excluding Philippine Islands and China) and the northern Moluccas ; Ægotheles (4 sp.), Australia, Tasmania, and Papuan Islands.


This family contains a single bird—the Guacharo—forming the genus Steatornis, first discovered by Humboldt in a cavern in Venezuela, and since found in deep ravines near Bogota, and also in Trinidad. Although apparently allied to the Goat-suckers it is a vegetable-feeder, and is altogether a very anomalous bird whose position in the system is still undetermined

Family 73.—CAPRIMULGID^E. (17 Genera, 91 Species.)

General Distribution.

Neotropical Nearctic Pal-tarctic Ethiopian Oriental Australia* Sub-regions. Sub-regions. Sub-regions. Sub-reoions. Sub-reoions. Sub-regions. I I 1.2

The Goat-suckers, or Night-jars, are crepuscular insectivorous birds, which take their prey on the wing, and are remarkable for their soft and beautifully mottled plumage, swift and silent flight, and strange cries often imitating the human voice. They are universally distributed, except that they do not reach New Zealand or the remoter Pacific Islands. The South American genus, Nyctibius, differs in structure and habits from the other goat-suckers and should perhaps form a distinct family. More than half the genera inhabit the Neotropical region. The genera are as follows:—

Nyctibius (6 sp.), Brazil to Guatemala, Jamaica; Caprimulgu8 (35 sp.), Palsearctic, Oriental, and Ethiopian regions, with the Austro-Malay Islands and North Australia; Hydropsalis (8 sp.), Tropical South America to La Plata; Antrostomus (10

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