Blue-banded kingfisher (Alcedo euryzona)

GenusAlcedo (1)
SizeLength: 16.5 - 17.8 cm (2)
Tail length: 4.3 - 4.8 cm (2)
Bill length: 5.3 - 5.8 cm (2)

The blue-banded kingfisher is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

A fairly rare bird, the blue-banded kingfisher (Alcedo euryzona) gets its name from the characteristic dull blue band across the breast of the adult male.  The upperparts of this species are blackish-blue, with fine blue speckles on the wing-coverts (3). This species also has a bright silvery-blue line down the centre of its back, with darker cobalt blue on the rump that is only conspicuous in flight. The underparts of the blue-banded kingfisher are whitish (2) (3) (4).

The female blue-banded kingfisher also has blackish upperparts, although these are slightly more distinctively spotted than in the male (2). The breast of the female lacks the blue band present in the male, and is a rustier colour (2) (3) (4). The bill of the female has a more reddish hue than the male, which has a black bill (3).

The blue-banded kingfisher gives a harsh, short, sharp whistle during flight (5).

Two subspecies of the blue-banded kingfisher are recognised, Alcedo euryzona euryzona and Alcedo euryzona peninsulae. In A. e. euryzona, both sides of the throat, as well as the under-wing and under-tail coverts, are tinged with buff or yellow in the male, while the female has blue on the breast. A. e. peninsulae is distinguished by the male having a mottled breast-band, and the female having a dark orange breast (6).

The blue-banded kingfisher occurs in Southeast Asia, with its range extending from the west coast of Myanmar and Thailand to the islands of Indonesia and Malaysia (4). Despite having a fairly large range, this beautiful species is thinly distributed across these countries, and is therefore considered rare across much of its range (2).

The subspecies A. e. euryzona is found in Java, while A. e. peninsulae is found in Sumatra, Borneo, Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand (6).

The blue-banded kingfisher is usually found around rocky or slow-flowing rivers running through humid evergreen forest. It has also been reported to inhabit mangroves and other areas of predominantly tropical lowland trees. The blue-banded kingfisher principally occurs in lowland areas but has been found to inhabit forested areas up to elevations above 1,250 metres (5).

This kingfisher is principally a fish-eating species; however, it is opportunistic, also feeding on insects, small reptiles and crustaceans found around the rivers it inhabits (2) (5). The blue-banded kingfisher is unlike other species in its genus, as it does not have the meditative, perching behaviour of its relatives but tends to be more restless, and rarely stays in one place for longer than a few minutes (2).

This medium-sized kingfisher nests in dense jungle, commonly near foothills (2). It digs a nest burrow into the bank of a small stream, and breeding occurs from February to June (2) (6). Clutches tend to contain four or five eggs (2).

Due to intensive logging and land conversion during the 20th century, huge swathes of land were lost from the range of the blue-banded kingfisher. For example, between 1984 and 1997, Sumatra lost 30 percent of its forest. Forest fires are also a threat to this species (4).

In spite of this, there is hope for the blue-banded kingfisher in that it occupies hill streams, a relatively secure habitat which provides some protection for this species (5).

Currently there are no conservation actions targeted specifically towards the protection of the blue-banded kingfisher; however, substantial populations have been recorded in various protected areas including Way Kamas National Park in Sumatra, Gunung Palung and Kutai National Parks in Kalimantan, Similajau National Park in Sarawak, and Taman Negara in Malaysia (5).

Proposed conservation measures for the future include lobbying for the creation of larger areas of protected lowland forest, conducting research on the blue-banded kingfisher’s habits and ecological needs, and designing a management scheme for this species and other birds of the lowland forests of Southeast Asia (5).

More information on the blue-banded kingfisher:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2011)
  2. Robinson, H.C. (1928) The Birds of the Malay Peninsula. Witherby, London.
  3. Jeyarajasingam, A. and Pearson, A. (2012) A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. King, B., Woodcock, M. and Dickinson, E.C. (1975) A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia. Collins, Oxford.
  5. BirdLife International (November, 2011)
  6. Fry, C.H., Fry, K. and Harris, A. (1999) Kingfishers, Bee-eaters & Rollers. A&C Black Publishers Ltd., London.