Blue-eared Kingfisher vs Common Kingfisher: What’s the difference

by Victor
Bright blue-eared kingfisher

The Blue-eared Kingfisher (Alcedo meninting) and the Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) are two species of kingfishers that are found in different parts of the world. While they may share some similarities in their physical appearance, there are several key differences that distinguish these two species from one another. In this article, we will explore the differences between the Blue-eared Kingfisher and the Common Kingfisher.

Physical Description

The Blue-eared Kingfisher (Alcedo meninting) is a small bird that measures around 16-17 cm (6-7 inches) in length and weighs around 30-35 grams (1-1.2 ounces). It has a distinctive bright blue ear patch and a blue back, with the rest of its plumage being orange and white. The male and female have similar appearances, with the male having a slightly larger and more robust bill.

The Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) is also a small bird, measuring around 16 cm (6.3 inches) in length and weighing around 34-38 grams (1.2-1.3 ounces). It has a bright blue back, wings, and tail, with an orange-red breast and a white belly. The male has an all-black bill, while the female has a reddish-orange lower mandible.

Habitat and Range

The Blue-eared Kingfisher is native to Southeast Asia and is found in a range of habitats, including tropical and subtropical forests, mangroves, and freshwater wetlands. Its range extends from southern China, through Southeast Asia, and into Indonesia.

The Common Kingfisher is found in Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and is also found in a variety of habitats, including rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes. It is widely distributed and can be found in many countries, including the United Kingdom, Japan, and India.

Behavior and Diet

Both species of kingfishers are highly adapted to hunting fish, which is their primary source of food. They are also known for their distinctive, sharp calls, which are often heard near water bodies. However, there are some differences in their behavior.

The Blue-eared Kingfisher is a shy and elusive bird, often hiding in dense vegetation near the water’s edge. It hunts by perching on a branch or twig overhanging the water and diving in headfirst to catch its prey. It also hovers over the water, scanning for prey before diving in.

The Common Kingfisher is a more visible and vocal bird, often seen perched on a branch or rock near the water’s edge. It hunts in a similar manner to the Blue-eared Kingfisher, diving into the water to catch fish. It also hovers over the water, but is more likely to be seen flying low over the surface of the water in search of prey.


Both species of kingfisher are known for their distinctive calls. The Blue-eared Kingfisher has a loud, melodious trill, while the Common Kingfisher has a high-pitched, piercing call that is often described as a “shriek.”

Conservation Status

Both the Blue-eared Kingfisher and the Common Kingfisher are considered to be of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, their populations are threatened by habitat loss, pollution, and other human activities.


In summary, the Blue-eared Kingfisher and the Common Kingfisher are two different species of kingfishers that are found in different parts of the world. The Blue-eared Kingfisher is smaller and has a distinctive blue head and neck, while the Common Kingfisher is slightly larger and has a blue-green back and rust-colored breast. Both species are adapted to hunting fish, but there are some differences in their behavior. While the Blue-eared Kingfisher is shy and elusive, the Common Kingfisher is more commonly seen and known for its impressive hunting skills. Despite being of least concern, both species are threatened by habitat loss and other human activities, highlighting the need for conservation efforts to protect these beautiful birds.

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