Collared kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris)
|Also known as:||white-collared kingfisher|
|Synonyms:||Halcyon chloris, Todirhamphus chloris|
|French:||Martin-chasseur à collier blanc|
|Size||Length: 23 - 25 cm (2)|
Male weight: 51 - 90 g (2)
Female weight: 54 - 100 g (2)
The collared kingfisher is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
A striking, small, blue-green kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris), the collared kingfisher has a blue head, back and rump, with a wash of turquoise, and a broad, white collar on the neck that extends to the white underparts (2) (3). A large-headed, stout-bodied and short-legged bird with a straight, strong, dagger-like bill (4), the collared kingfisher also has a black mask that extends around to the back of the neck, a conspicuous white spot on the lores (between the bill and the eye), and a white stripe that runs from one eye round the head to the other eye (2) (3) (5). The upper-tail and the wings are blue, the iris is dark brown and the weak, fleshy feet are dark grey (2) (4). The male collared kingfisher tends to have a slightly bluer tinge to the upperparts than the female. The juvenile is duller in colour than the adult, with a black collar band and tiny, black scaling across the breast (6).
There are numerous subspecies of the collared kingfisher, which vary slightly in size but mainly in plumage colour, the upperparts being bluer or greener, the underparts varying from white to buff, and the white loral spot differing in size (2). The collared kingfisher is easily confused with the similar sacred kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus), but is considerably larger and stockier, with a much longer and heavier bill. It may also be distinguished by its whiter underparts, collar and loral spot, which are all buff on the sacred kingfisher (3). The collared kingfisher may be further identified by its call, mainly given in flight, which is typically a loud, ringing, strident “kee” repeated three to five times (2).
Widely distributed, the collared kingfisher is found from the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf through southern and south-eastern Asia to Indonesia and New Guinea, and east to northern Australia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa (3).
The collared kingfisher occupies a range of coastal habitats, from tidal areas, mudflats and mangroves to sand beaches and harbours. In the west of its range, it is largely restricted to mangroves, but in Southeast Asia it may also be found in coconut plantations. The collared kingfisher may also follow large rivers inland to open woodlands, parks, gardens and roadsides, often travelling as far as 40 kilometres upstream (2) (3) (7) (8) (9).
A proficient predator of fish, as a perch-and-wait predator the collared kingfisher hunts from a branch near water, one to three metres high, and swoops down to take its prey on mud or sand (2) (3). It may also snatch insects in the air and take fish after a brief hover and a plunge-dive into water, occasionally even following smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) to take fish disturbed by this aquatic mammal. It sits and waits at its perch for long periods of time, and once captured, its prey is taken back to its perch and beaten to death (2). In coastal areas, the collared kingfisher feeds mainly on small fish and crustaceans, but in inland areas it has a more varied diet, including lizards and young birds (2) (3).
With the timing of breeding varying across the species’ range, the collared kingfisher commences courtship by chasing a potential mate, before the male offers the female a fish, with both birds then extending their wings to cement the pair bond. Breeding birds nest as solitary pairs, excavating a nest in an old tree trunk, termite nest, earthen bank or an old woodpecker hole, with a territory aggressively defended around the nest site. A clutch of two to five eggs is laid and immediately incubated by the female, with the male later taking over the incubating duties. The chicks fledge after 29 or 30 days in the nest and may live for up to 11 years (2).
Although common, widespread and not currently at risk of extinction, in parts of its range the collared kingfisher is threatened by habitat loss, particularly from the conversion of mangroves (2) (10). In Australia, mangroves are destroyed for tourist, residential and infrastructure developments resulting in the loss of the collared kingfisher’s foraging and nesting habitat (3). On some small islands where the species exists in small populations, the effects of habitat loss are exacerbated by the adverse effects of a small population, such as vulnerability to disease and severe weather events (2). The collared kingfisher is also threatened by the pollution of estuaries and the accumulation of pesticides in its environment (3). On Sarigan, in the western Pacific Ocean, feral cats and rats predate a number of native bird species, possibly including the collared kingfisher, and introduced goats and pigs have cleared virtually all of the lower vegetation on the island (11).
A conservation priority for the collared kingfisher is the protection of mangrove habitat from clearing and disturbance and avoiding the use of herbicides and pesticides near watercourses that may be inhabited by the species. Preserving older stands of mangrove is paramount as they tend to offer better nesting habitat, but where nesting opportunities are limited, setting up nest-boxes many also benefit the species (3).
For more information on the collared kingfisher and other bird species, see:
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- Crustaceans: diverse group of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, and barnacles.
- Feral: previously domesticated animals that have returned to a wild state.
- Incubate: to keep eggs warm so that development is possible.
- Subspecies: a population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
- Territory: an area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a colony.
IUCN Red List (December, 2010)
- del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. and Sargatal, J. (2001) Handbook of Birds of the World. Volume 6: Mousebirds to Hornbills. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Threatened Species: Species, Populations and Ecological Communities of New South Wales – Collared kingfisher (December, 2010)
- Perrins, C. (2009) The Encyclopedia of Birds. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Samoa Government – Collared kingfisher (December, 2010)
SeaWorld: Animal Bytes – Collared kingfisher (December, 2010)
- Mackinnon, J. and Phillipps, K. (2000) A Field Guide to the Birds of China. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Strange, M. (2003) A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Indonesia. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
- Grewal, B., Harvey, B. and Pfister, O. (2002) A Photographic Guide to the Birds of India and the Indian Subcontinent, Including Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, USA.
BirdLife International – Collared kingfisher (December, 2010)
- Fancy, S.G., Craig, R.J. and Kessler, C.W. (1999) Forest bird and fruit bat populations on Sarigan, Mariana Islands. Micronesica, 31(2): 247-254.