Forest kingfisher

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Forest kingfisher
Fogg Dam, Australia
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Alcedinidae
Subfamily: Halcyoninae
Genus: Todiramphus
T. macleayii
Binomial name
Todiramphus macleayii
(Jardine & Selby, 1830)

Halcyon macleayii

The forest kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayii), also known as the Macleay's or blue kingfisher, is a species of kingfisher in the subfamily Halcyoninae, also known as tree kingfishers. It is a predominantly blue and white bird. It is found in Indonesia, New Guinea and coastal eastern and Northern Australia and Singapore. Like many other kingfishers, it hunts invertebrates and small frogs and lizards.


The forest kingfisher was first described by the naturalists Sir William Jardine and Prideaux John Selby in 1830. It was known for many years by its old scientific name of Halcyon macleayi before being transferred to the genus Todiramphus. Two subspecies are recognised:

  • T. m. macleayi, the nominate subspecies, is found across the Top End eastwards to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
  • T. m. incinctus, described by John Gould, has a greener tinge to its back and is slightly larger. It is found down the east coast of Australia.
Forest kingfisher - Fogg Dam, Middle Point - Northern Territory, Australia - March 2014
Forest kingfisher about to dive for food - Fogg Dam - Middle Point - Northern Territory - Australia


Measuring 21.5–25.5 cm (8.5–10.0 in), the forest kingfisher has blue wings, head and tail with white breast, abdomen and nape. It has a white patch in front of the eyes and a black band stretching from the bill, through the eyes and to the ear coverts. A white patch is visible on the wings in flight. The female is distinguished by a blue rather than white nape.[2] The iris is dark brown and the legs and feet dark grey. Immature birds are duller with a blackish crown. The call is a shrill t-reek, repeated regularly, most often in the early morning.[3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The forest kingfisher is native to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Australia, where it is found on or near the Australian Coastline from Port Stephens in New South Wales northwards to Cape York and westwards across the Top End. It is a summer visitor in the southern parts of its range in New South Wales and southern Queensland; elsewhere it is resident all year round.[3][4]

As its name suggests, it inhabits subtropical or tropical dry forest, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, and subtropical or tropical mangrove forest and Melaleuca swampland.[3]


The forest kingfisher hunts invertebrates, such as bugs, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, and worms, as well as small frogs and lizards. It often kills prey by hitting it against a branch after seizing it.[5]


Breeding season is October to January in Australia with one brood raised. The nest is a short burrow into a round chamber within an arboreal termite nest, around 10–12 m (33–39 ft) above the ground. Three to six white shiny eggs are laid, measuring 25 mm x 22 mm.[4] Fledglings are fed for around a month before they leave the nest.

Kobble Creek, SE Queensland, Australia


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Todiramphus macleayii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Simpson K, Day N, Trusler P (1993). Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Ringwood, Victoria: Viking O'Neil. p. 160. ISBN 0-670-90478-3.
  3. ^ a b c Slater, Peter (1970). A Field Guide to Australian Birds: Vol.1. Non-passerines. Adelaide: Rigby. pp. 405–06. ISBN 0-85179-102-6.
  4. ^ a b Beruldsen, G (2003). Australian Birds: Their Nests and Eggs. Kenmore Hills, Qld: self. p. 269. ISBN 0-646-42798-9.
  5. ^ "Birds in Backyards - Forest Kingfisher". Australian Museum, Sydney. 2006. Retrieved 27 May 2008.