Blue-capped kingfisher (Actenoides hombroni)

GenusActenoides (1)
SizeLength: 27 cm (2)
Male weight: 108 – 124 g (2)
Female weight: 106 – 147 g (2)

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

The blue-capped kingfisher is a stunning bird named for its dark purple-blue crown. It has a ‘moustache’ of the same colour, and a prominent, dagger-shaped, red bill. Its cheeks and underparts are burnt-orange and the throat is white. The plumage on the back and tail is greenish-blue. The colour of the female’s plumage is duller than that of the male and is more olive-green on the back (2). Despite its conspicuous, colourful plumage, the blue-capped kingfisher is reportedly difficult to observe and easily overlooked (2), but its long melancholic whistles can be heard just before sunrise (3).

Endemic to the island of Mindanao, in the south-west Philippines (2)

The blue-capped kingfisher inhabits rainforest from 100 to 2,400 meters, but mostly over 1,000 meters. It chiefly occurs in primary forest although there is evidence that it occasionally occurs in secondary forest and disturbed habitats (2) (4).

Despite its name, the blue-capped kingfisher is thought to capture fish only occasionally. Instead, it feeds primarily on grasshoppers and locusts, beetles and their larvae, snails, frogs, and small reptiles (2). The kingfisher sits motionless on a perch, watching for movement. When prey is spotted, it takes off in pursuit of its chosen victim (2) (5). The breeding season of the blue-capped kingfisher is believed to extend from January to July, with a peak of activity between March and May (2) (4).

The blue-capped kingfisher has a restricted range in which its forest habitat is rapidly disappearing, causing a decline in population numbers (2) (4). In the late 1980s, Mindanao retained only 29 percent of its original forest cover, and further loss and degradation has taken place since (6). Slash-and-burn agriculture, harvesting of non-timber forest products such as rattan and palm, logging operations and mining activities, have all played their part in the destruction of Mindanao’s forests and the kingfisher’s home. Civil strife has also often had a negative impact on the natural habitat, and rebellion groups deliberately setting fire to forests is a problem, particularly on the Zamboanga Peninsula. Even within so-called protected areas, widespread and unchecked illegal logging threatens Mindanao’s wildlife (6).

The blue-capped kingfisher has been recorded within Mount Kitanglad Natural Park, Mount Malindang National Park and Mount Matutum Forest Reserve, which may offer some protection, although, as mentioned above, illegal activities still pose a threat. The blue-capped kingfisher was also recorded in Mount Apo Natural Park many years ago, but this area has since suffered massive human encroachment which the kingfisher may not have survived (2). Further information on the blue-capped kingfisher’s biology is urgently required (2), which can be used to inform future conservation actions.

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  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2011)