White-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)

White-breasted Kingfisher

[order] CORACIIFORMES | [family] Alcedinidae | [latin] Halcyon smyrnensis | [UK] White-breasted Kingfisher | [FR] Martin-chasseur de Smyrne | [DE] Braunliest | [ES] Martin pescador turco | [NL] Smyrna-ijsvogel


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

A medium sized, noisy, with long tail and large red bill kingfisher. 26-28 cm, 75-110 g, wingspan 40-43 cm.
Distinctive dark chestnut, blue and white bib plumage. Male of nominate race has dark chestnut head, flanks and belly, white throat and breast, blue back, wings and tail. Lesser wing coverts, cedian coverts dark blue, white patch at base of black primaries obvious in flight. Bill red, iris dark brown, orbital skin red, legs and feet dusky red.
Female slightly paler head and belly. Juvenile duller, breast with fine dark scallops.
Race fusca smaller, slightly darker, less green tinge in blues, race saturatior darker browns, and gularis only chin and throat white.

Listen to the sound of White-breasted Kingfisher

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/W/White-breasted Kingfisher.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 40 cm wingspan max.: 43 cm
size min.: 26 cm size max.: 28 cm
incubation min.: 18 days incubation max.: 20 days
fledging min.: 26 days fledging max.: 20 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 5  
      eggs max.: 6  


Oriental Region : widespread, also Middle East


Varied: swamps, ponds, canals, dams, mudflats, beaches with trees, farmland, large gardens, dry deciduous forest and roadside trees.
Usually avoids dense forest except for clearings.


Laying starts June in Egypt, April-May in Israel and Iraq, January-August in India, December-August in Malaysia and Mar-April in Thailand, Sumatra and Philippines. The species is monogamous. A drop in water level may be an external stimulus for laying, sometimes double-brooded.
Nest usually in earthen bank of ditch, stream, river, pond or road cutting, sometimes in termitarium, rock crevice.
Nest-chamber at end of inclined tunnel 30-150 cm long. The clutch is 5-6 eggs which are incubated by both parents for a period of 18-20 days, both parents feed the chicks. Fledging period is about 26-27 days.

Feeding habits

Wide variety of prey, include insects like grasshoppers and crickets, earwigs, cockroaches, bugs, beetles, also crabs and crustaceans, earthworms, fish, frog and roads, lizards, snakes, birds and rodents.
Typical sit and wait predator, spends long periods on perch up to 10 m above ground (before diving head first or landing feet first), can hover for a moment over water before snatching prey.


This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km2. It has a large global population, including an estimated 180-340 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but there is evidence of a population increase, and so the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
White-breasted Kingfisher status Least Concern


Basically resident throughout range, but individuals wander to uncertain extent outside breeding season. Populations of Middle East move across to South China and Hong Kong, exhibit partial short-distance migration, with seasonal changes in abundance, involving mostly juveniles.
Vagrants recorded in Greece, Cyprus, various Middle East countries including Syria, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, also former USSR.

Distribution map

White-breasted Kingfisher distribution range map

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