The Coraciiformes are a group of usually colorful birds including the kingfishers, the bee-eaters, the rollers, the motmots, and the todies. They generally have syndactyly, with three forward-pointing toes (and toes 3 & 4 fused at their base), though in many kingfishers one of these is missing.
This is largely an Old World order, with the representation in the New World limited to the dozen or so species of todies and motmots, and a mere handful of the more than a hundred species of kingfishers.
The name Coraciiformes means "raven-like", which is a misnomer (ravens are passerines). Specifically, it comes from the Latin language "corax", meaning "raven" and Latin "forma", meaning "form", which is the standard ending for bird orders.
Temporal range: Middle Eocene to present
For prehistoric taxa, see text.
|Global distribution of the kingfisher and allies.|
This order has been seen to be something of a mixed assortment, and the Coraciiformes may be considered as including only the rollers. All the other families would then be considered to represent lineages of birds distantly related to Coraciiformes. This seems to be oversplitting, as most Coraciiformes indeed form a reasonably robust clade.
Analysis of nDNA c-myc and RAG-1 exon as well as mtDNA myoglobin intron 2 sequence data demonstrates that the Coraciiformes can be divided into a basal group that is not too distantly related to the Piciformes, and a derived suborder containing mainly kingfishers (Johansson & Ericson, 2003). The cuckoo roller's true affinities appear to lie elsewhere. The trogons and hornbills are either very basal lineages, or might be considered distinct own orders; the latter are apparently slightly closer to the rollers than the former. The entire group (possibly excluding the cuckoo roller) and the Piciformes are closely related to the Passeriformes (Johansson & Ericson 2003; see also near passerine).
Several extinct coraciiform families are only known from Paleogene fossils. They probably belong to the basal group and are sometimes difficult to assign because they were even closer still to the Piciformes (see also Neanis). In addition, there are some prehistoric genera which are likewise difficult to place into a family. At least the Eocoraciidae are very basal, but the Late Eocene (some 35 mya) Geranopteridae form a superfamily Coracioidea with the extant rollers and ground-rollers already (Mayr & Mourer-Chauviré 2000). A few prehistoric taxa of the present-day families have been described; see the family articles for details.
The Leptosomatidae (cuckoo roller) probably do not belong here. The trogons are sometimes placed here as a family Trogonidae. The Late Eocene Palaeospizidae are sometimes also placed in the Coraciiformes, as are the Early to Middle Eocene Primobucconidae and the Middle Eocene to Early Oligocene Sylphornithidae. The Primobucconidae at least indeed seem to belong here.
The blue-black kingfisher (Todiramphus nigrocyaneus) is a species of bird in the family Alcedinidae.
It is found in New Guinea and offshore islands of Salawati, Batanta and Yapen. It is considered rare (although it may be more common in Papua) and declining with threats being logging of lowland swamp forests and declining water quality.Cinnamon-banded kingfisher
The cinnamon-banded kingfisher (Todiramphus australasia) is a species of bird in the family Alcedinidae.
It is found in Indonesia and East Timor. It is endemic to the Lesser Sundas.
Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry forests.
It is threatened by habitat loss.Coraciimorphae
Coraciimorphae is a clade of birds that contains the order Coliiformes (mousebirds) and the clade Cavitaves (a large assemblage of birds that includes woodpeckers, kingfishers and trogons). The name however was coined in the 1990s by Sibley and Ahlquist based on their DNA-DNA hybridization studies conducted in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. However their Coraciimorphae only contain Trogoniformes and Coraciiformes.
Cladogram of Coraciimorphae relationships based on Jarvis, E.D. et al. (2014) with some clade names after Yury, T. et al. (2013).Cuckoo roller
The cuckoo roller or courol (Leptosomus discolor) is the only bird in the family Leptosomidae, which was previously often placed in the order Coraciiformes but is now placed in its own order Leptosomiformes. Its nearest relative is not clear. Morphological evidence may suggest a placement in or near to Falconiformes. In the rather comprehensive DNA study by Hackett et al, this and the hoatzin are the only two birds whose position is unclear, although the cuckoo roller seems to be at the root of a group that contains the Trogoniformes, Bucerotiformes, Piciformes, and Coraciiformes.
It is a medium-large bird, inhabiting forests and woodlands in Madagascar and the Comoro Islands. Three subspecies are described: the nominate L. d. discolor is found in Madagascar and Mayotte Island, L. d. intermedius on Anjouan, and L. d. gracilis of Grand Comoro. Based on its smaller size, differences in the plumage, and minor difference in the voice, the last of these is sometimes considered a separate species, the Comoro cuckoo roller (L. gracilis).Flat-billed kingfisher
The flat-billed kingfisher (Todiramphus recurvirostris) is a species of bird in the family Alcedinidae. It is endemic to Samoa.Great-billed kingfisher
The great-billed kingfisher or black-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis melanorhyncha) is a species of bird in the subfamily Halcyoninae.
It is endemic to the Sulawesi region of Indonesia. It can be found on the island of Sulawesi and in the Sula Archipelago.Ground roller
The ground rollers are a small family of non-migratory near-passerine birds restricted to Madagascar.
They are related to the kingfishers, bee-eaters and rollers. They most resemble the latter group, and are sometimes considered a sub-family of the true rollers.Hombron's kingfisher
Hombron's kingfisher or the blue-capped kingfisher (Actenoides hombroni) is a species of bird in the family Alcedinidae endemic to the Philippines. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.Javan kingfisher
The Javan kingfisher (Halcyon cyanoventris) is a species of bird in the subfamily Halcyoninae.
It is endemic to Indonesia.
Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical mangrove forests.Kofiau paradise kingfisher
The Kofiau paradise kingfisher (Tanysiptera ellioti) is a tree kingfisher endemic to the Indonesian island Kofiau. This little-known bird is sometimes considered a subspecies of the common paradise kingfisher (T. galatea), but it is morphologically distinct and del Hoyo lists it as a separate species.Lazuli kingfisher
The lazuli kingfisher (Todiramphus lazuli) is a species of bird in the family Alcedinidae. It gets its name due to its colour being reminiscent of Lapis Lazuli.Mariana kingfisher
The Mariana kingfisher (Todiramphus albicilla) is a species of bird in the family Alcedinidae. It is endemic to the Northern Mariana Islands. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and plantations. It was formerly considered a subspecies of the collared kingfisher.Mewing kingfisher
The mewing kingfisher or Mangaia kingfisher (Todiramphus ruficollaris), known locally as the tanga‘eo, is a species of bird in the Alcedinidae, or kingfisher family. It is endemic to Mangaia in the Cook Islands. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and plantations.Mountain kingfisher
The mountain kingfisher (Syma megarhyncha) is a species of bird in the family Alcedinidae.
It is found in the New Guinea Highlands.
Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest and subtropical or tropical moist montane forest.Picodynastornithes
Picodynastornithes is a clade that contains the orders Coraciiformes (rollers and kingfishers) and Piciformes (woodpeckers and toucans). This grouping also has current and historical support from the molecular and morphological studies.Syma
Syma is a genus tree kingfishers in the family Alcedinidae that are resident in New Guinea and northeast Australia.
The genus was introduced by the French surgeon and naturalist René Lesson in 1827. Syma was the name of a sea nymph in Greek mythology.The genus contains two species:
Mountain kingfisher (Syma megarhyncha)
Yellow-billed kingfisher (Syma torotoro)The adults of both species have bright yellow bills. The mountain kingfisher is endemic to the mountainous regions of New Guinea. The yellow-billed kingfisher occurs in lowland areas of New Guinea and on the Cape York Peninsula in north eastern Australia.Talaud kingfisher
The Talaud kingfisher (Todiramphus enigma) is a species of bird in the family Alcedinidae.
It is endemic to the Talaud Islands north of Sulawesi in Indonesia.
Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and rivers.
It is threatened by habitat loss.Torresian kingfisher
The Torresian kingfisher (Todiramphus sordidus) is a species of bird in the family Alcedinidae. It is found in southern New Guinea and in Australia. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and plantations. It was formerly considered a subspecies of the collared kingfisher.Ultramarine kingfisher
The ultramarine kingfisher (Todiramphus leucopygius) is a species of bird in the family Alcedinidae.