Guam kingfisher

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Guam kingfisher
Guam Micronesian Kingfisher at Bronx Zoo-8-4c.jpg
Bronx Zoo is one of a number of U.S. zoos participating in the captive breeding program for the – extinct in the wild – T. cinnamominus. A male in this photo.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Alcedinidae
Subfamily: Halcyoninae
Genus: Todiramphus
Species: T. cinnamominus
Binomial name
Todiramphus cinnamominus
(Swainson, 1821)

The Guam kingfisher (Todiramphus cinnamominus) is a species of kingfisher from the United States Territory of Guam. It is restricted to a captive breeding program following its extinction in the wild due to the introduced brown tree snake.

Taxonomy and description[edit]

In addition, the mysterious extinct Ryūkyū kingfisher, known from a single specimen, is sometimes placed as a subspecies (T. c. miyakoensis; Fry et al. 1992). Among-island differences in morphological, behavioral, and ecological characteristics have been determined sufficient that Micronesian kingfisher populations, of which the Guam kingfisher was considered a subspecies, should be split into separate species.

This is a brilliantly colored, medium-sized kingfisher, 20–24 cm in length. They have iridescent blue backs and rusty-cinnamon heads. Adult male Guam kingfishers have cinnamon underparts while females and juveniles are white below. They have large laterally-flattened bills and dark legs. The calls of Micronesian kingfishers are generally raspy chattering.


Guam kingfishers were terrestrial forest generalists that tended to be somewhat secretive. The birds nested in cavities excavated from soft-wooded trees and arboreal termitaria, on Guam (Marshall 1989). Micronesian kingfishers defended permanent territories as breeding pairs and family groups (Kesler 2006). Both sexes care for young, and some offspring remain with parents for extended periods. (Kesler 2002).

Conservation status[edit]

The Guam kingfisher population was extirpated after the introduction of brown tree snakes (Savidge 1984) where it was seen in the wild in 1986, and the birds are now U.S. listed as endangered (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1984). The Guam kingfishers remain only as a captive population of fewer than two hundred individuals (as of 2017) in US mainland and Guam breeding facilities. However, there are plans to reintroduce the Guam birds to another suitable island (Laws and Kesler 2012), and potentially also back to their native range on Guam if protected areas can be established and the threat of the tree snakes eliminated (US Fish and Wildlife Service 2004). Unfortunately, however, three decades of research and management has yielded little hope for safe habitats on Guam.


  • Laws, R.J., and D.C. Kesler. 2012. "A Bayesian network approach for selecting translocation sites for endangered island birds." Biological Conservation 155:178-185.
  • Kesler, D.C., and S.M. Haig. 2007. "Conservation biology for suites of species: demographic modeling for the Pacific island kingfishers." Biological Conservation 136:520-530.
  • Kesler, D.C., and S.M. Haig. 2007. "Multi-scale resource use and selection in cooperatively breeding Micronesian Kingfishers." Journal of Wildlife Management 71:765-772.
  • Kesler, D.C., and S.M. Haig. 2007. "Territoriality, prospecting, and dispersal in cooperatively breeding Micronesian Kingfishers." Auk 124:381-395.
  • Kesler, D.C., and S. M. Haig. 2005. "Microclimate and nest site selection in Micronesian kingfishers." Pacific Science 59:499-508.
  • Kesler, D.C. 2006. Population demography, resource use, and movement in cooperatively breeding Micronesian Kingfishers. Doctoral dissertation. Oregon State University. Corvallis, OR.
  • Kesler, D.C., and S.M. Haig. 2004. "Thermal characteristics of wild and captive Micronesian kingfisher nesting habitats." Zoo Biology 23:301-308.
  • Fry, C.H., K. Fry, A. Harris. 1992. Kingfishers, Bee-eaters, and Rollers. Princeton University Press. Princeton, NJ.
  • Haig, S.M., and J.D. Ballou. 1995. Genetic diversity among two avian species formerly endemic to Guam. Auk 112: 445-455.
  • Haig, S.M., J.D. Ballou, and N.J. Casna. 1995. Genetic identification of kin in Micronesian Kingfishers. Journal of Heredity 86: 423-431.
  • Marshall, S.D. 1989. Nest sites of the Micronesian Kingfisher on Guam. Wilson Bulletin 101, 472-477.
  • Pratt, H.D., P.L. Bruner, and D.G. Berrett. 1987. The Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press. Princeton, NJ.
  • Savidge, J. A. 1987. Extinction of an island forest avifauna by an introduced snake. Ecology 68:660-668.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2004. Draft Revised Recovery Plan for the Sihek or Guam Micronesian Kingfisher (Halcyon cinnamomina cinnamomina).
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1984. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants: determination of endangered status for seven birds and two bats on Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Federal Register 50 CFR Part 17 49(167), 33881-33885.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2004. Draft Revised Recovery Plan for the Sihek or Guam Micronesian Kingfisher (Halcyon cinnamomina cinnamomina). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, OR.

External links[edit]