- Rostrum longissimum, rectum, validum, ad basin latius quam altius, lateribus tetragonis; mandibula superiore rectissima, ad basin rotundata; inferiore carinata, recurvata, margine superioris inferiorem obtegente. Nares basales, membrana tectæ, apertura nuda, lineari obliqua. Cauda plerumque mediocris. Pedes gressorii, digito antico interiore minimo aut nullo.
Typus Genericus Alcedo Senegalensis. Linn.
- Bill very long, straight, thick, the base broader than high; the sides tetragonal; upper mandible very straight, the base rounded; under mandible beneath carinated and recurved, the margins covered by those of the upper. Nostrils basal, covered by a membrane, the aperture naked, linear and oblique. Tail mostly moderate. Feet gressorial: interior fore-toe small or wanting.
Generic Type Crabeating Kingsfisher. Latham.
- H. viridi-cærulea; corpore subtus, lunulaque cerviculi albis.
- Greenish-blue. Body beneath and nuchal collar white.
- Alcedo collaris. Latham Index Ornith. i. 250.
- Sacred Kingsfisher, Var. D. Latham Syn. ii. p. 623.
- Collared Kingsfisher. Gen. Zool. viii. i. p. 80.
Referring to the observations we have already made on Kingsfishers generally, it will be only necessary to observe, that the species now formed into the genus Halcyon appear entirely excluded from the American continent: their bills are much stronger, thicker, and more rounded than the genuine Kingsfishers, and the under mandible beneath invariably carinated and curving upwards. One of them (the Alcedo Senegalensis of Latham) is known to feed on crabs, the breaking and disjointing of which this structure seems admirably calculated to accomplish; and although some authors mention insects also as their food, I apprehend it is only in the absence of other larger prey more suited to the construction of their bills.
Total length eight inches and a half. Bill two inches three lines from the gape, and one inch three quarters from the nostrils; upper mandible and margin and lip of the lower, black, the rest yellowish-white. The general plumage above is pale and changeable greenish-blue, the green predominating on the scapulars, head and tail; the upper part of the neck is crossed by a white collar, separated from the green of the head by a narrow margin of black, which passes on the ear-feathers round the nape; a narrow whitish line runs from the nostrils to the eyebrows, and another very short one is beneath the eye; the whole of the under plumage white. Quills black edged with blue, the second, third and fourth equal and longest. Wings four inches and a quarter. Tail even, near three inches long, above blue-green, beneath black. Feet dusky; middle and outer claws much longer than the leg.
Inhabits Java and other parts of India, and is I believe unfigured. The line at the bottom of the plate is on the scale of an inch.
Since writing the above, Temminck's new edition of the Manuel d'Ornithologie has just reached me, in which I perceive he has continued the birds of this genus under that of Alcedo, observing that their plumage is always shining, and that he can find no characters for their geographic distribution: yet, notwithstanding the opinion of this eminent ornithologist, a close attention will I believe prove, first, that no species of Linnæan Alcedo bearing the characters of Halcyon have yet been discovered as natives of America; and secondly, that species of genuine Alcedo will be found with plumage quite devoid of any bright or shining colours. One or two exist in my own cabinet, but to which I cannot now refer.
The situation of Halcyon will be between Alcedo and Dacelo; from the last of which it is distinguished by its perfectly straight, acute, and entire upper mandible, which, on the contrary, in Dacelo is notched, the tip bent and obtuse.