Todies Kingfishers Hoopoes and Relatives: Coraciiformes
Behavior And Reproduction
Coraciiforms share the behavior of digging cavity nests in earthen banks, sandy banks, insect and termite hills, or rotten trees. They are considered primitive perching birds. Most members of the order are partly arboreal; that is, they primarily live, feed, and breed in trees. Many members are social in their habits and are somewhat noisy when communicating among themselves and warning others of their presence. In fact, the laughing kookaburra, one of the best known birds of Australia, is famous for its "laughing" song.
Most species nest in cavities, crevices, or holes in a tree, rock face, building, or within the ground (such as a tunnel with the nesting chamber at the end). Kingfishers, todies, motmots, and bee-eaters usually dig their own earthen burrows, which often occur in sandy banks, rotten trees and other wooden places, or insect nests. Nests become very smelly as body waste and the remains of food accumulate inside. Only hornbills maintain tidy nests, going to the effort of directing body waste outside the nest and removing food remains.
Male and female pairs mate for life. Most species are territorial when breeding, meaning that they keep other birds away from their nest. In addition, most species breed as a single male-female pair. In some families, there are species that live and breed as groups (usually a mating pair plus one or a few helpers); some species even nest in large colonies (large groups of birds that live together and are dependent on each other). Males and females generally share duties of nest construction, chick defense, and food delivery (with males providing most of the early gathering of food, and females sharing more feeding duties after the chicks have grown).
Eggs are normally laid inside a cavity that is thinly lined with plant materials. Females produce white or pale eggs, except hoopoes, whose eggs are tinted light blue-green. The eggs are rounded and shiny, except for the oval ones of the hoopoes and hornbills. In most species, the female performs most or all of the incubation (sitting on) of eggs and the raising of young chicks. The eggs hatch after two to four weeks of incubation. The length of time is different for each species. The newborns are hatched helpless, blind, and naked, except in hoopoes, whose newborns have patches of fine down. The upper jaw in newborn chicks is visibly shorter than the lower one. They depend on their parents when very young. They have waxy sheaths (tube-shaped coverings that protect feathers) on their feathers up until the time that they are able to fly.
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