White-throated Kingfisher swallowing lizard

posted in: Feeding-vertebrates, Kingfishers | 4


A White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) was photographed by Joseph Yao swallowing a lizard nearly as long as itself. This, of course includes the lizard’s long tail.

The lizard was caught and brought back to the kingfisher’s perch where it was subdued by bashing it against the wooden billboard. The lizard was then grabbed by the head and with one flick of the bird’s head, was swallowed head-first.


The entire process of swallowing lasted only 90 seconds when only the end portion of the tail was still projecting out of the bill.

The food of this kingfisher includes insects, crustaceans, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and small mammals. In the above case, the lizard, from head to tail was slightly longer than the bird itself. It has not been observed how long the end of the tail disappeared into the bird but there have been cases where it may take some time for the head end to be digested before the tail end completely disappears into the bird.

All images by Joseph Yao.

This post is a cooperative effort between www.naturepixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

4 Responses

  1. plasmabstract

    Wow… that’s hardcore!
    So it’ll be flying around for some time with the tail sticking out its mouth, huh?

  2. YC

    I usually do not ask for the exact location unless voluntarily offered. Why? Some photographers and birders are very sensitive about revealing locations, for various reasons.

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