King"fish`er (?), n. Zool.
Any one of numerous species of birds constituting the family Alcedinidae. Most of them feed upon fishes which they capture by diving and seizing then with the beak; others feed only upon reptiles, insects, etc. About one hundred and fifty species are known. They are found in nearly all parts of the world, but are particularly abundant in the East Indies.
⇒ The belted king-fisher of the United States (Ceryle alcyon) feeds upon fishes. It is slate-blue above, with a white belly and breast, and a broad white ring around the neck. A dark band crosses the breast. The common European species (Alcedo ispida), which is much smaller and brighter colored, is also a fisher. See Alcedo. The wood kingfishers (Halcyones), which inhabit forests, especially in Africa, feed largely upon insects, but also eat reptiles, snails, and small Crustacea, as well as fishes. The giant kingfisher of Australia feeds largely upon lizards and insects. See Laughing jackass, under Laughing.
© Webster 1913.