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White-throated Kingfisher, White-breasted Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis, นกกะเต็นอกขาว

The White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) also known as the White-breasted Kingfisher is a tree kingfisher, widely distributed in Asia from Turkey east through the Indian subcontinent to the Philippines.

This kingfisher is a resident over much of its range, although some populations may make short distance movements. It can often be found well away from water where it feeds on a wide range of prey that includes small reptiles, amphibians, crabs, small rodents and even birds. During the breeding season they call loudly in the mornings from prominent perches including the tops of buildings in urban areas or on wires.

Habitat and distribution
White-throated Kingfisher is a common species of a variety of habitats, mostly open country in the plains (but has been seen at 7500 ft in the Himalayas) with trees, wires or other perches. The range of the species is expanding.

This kingfisher is widespread and populations are not threatened. Average density of 4.58 individuals per km2. has been noted in the Sundarbans mangroves.

Range map from

Range map
Range map from - Ornithological Portal is one of those MUST visit pages if you're in to bird watching. You can find just about everything there

The White-throated Kingfisher is one of the many birds that were first formally described by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae. He coined the binomial name Alcedo smyrnensis.

Linnaeus cites Eleazar Albin's Natural History of Birds published in 1738 which includes a description and a plate of the "Smirna Kingfisher".

The present genus Halcyon was introduced by the English naturalist and artist William John Swainson in 1821. Halcyon is a name for a bird in Greek mythology generally associated with the kingfisher. The specific epithet smyrnensis is an adjective for the town of Izmir in Turkey.

Six subspecies are recognised:

• H. s. smyrnensis (Linnaeus, 1758) – south Turkey to north east Egypt, Iraq to northwest India

• H. s. fusca (Boddaert, 1783) – west India and Sri Lanka

• H. s. perpulchra Madarász, 1904 – Bhutan to east India, Indochina, the Malay Peninsular and west Java

• H. s. saturatior Hume, 1874 – Andaman Islands

• H. s. fokiensis Laubmann & Götz, 1926 – south and east China, Taiwan and Hainan

• H. s. gularis (Kuhl, 1820) – Philippines

The race H. s. gularis is sometimes considered as a separate species. Support for this treatment was provided by a molecular study published in 2017 that found that H. s. gularis was more closely related to the Javan kingfisher (H. cyanoventris) than it was to the White-throated Kingfisher.

The races H. s. perpulchra and H. s. fokiensis are sometimes included in H. s. fusca.

Local names include Baluchistan: aspi chidok; Sindhi: dalel; Hindi: kilkila, kourilla; Himachal Pradesh: neela machhrala; Punjabi: wadda machhera; Bengali: sandabuk machhranga; Assamese: masroka; Cachar: dao natu gophu; Gujarati: kalkaliyo, safedchati kalkaliyo; Marathi: khundya; Tamil: vichuli; Telugu: lakmuka, buchegadu; Malayalam: ponman; Kannada: rajamatsi; Sinhalese: pilihuduwa.

This is a large kingfisher, 27–28 cm in length. The adult has a bright blue back, wings and tail. Its head, shoulders, flanks and lower belly are chestnut, and the throat and breast are white. The large bill and legs are bright red. The flight of the White-throated Kingfisher is rapid and direct, the short rounded wings whirring.

In flight, large white patches are visible on the blue and black wings. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are a duller version of the adult.

Length: 28 cm
Wingspan: 40 - 43 cm
Weight: 85 - 88 g
Distinctive Feature

Similar Species

From opus at the forum for wild birds and birding.
Female / Male / Juvenile

• Sexes are similar; juveniles are a duller version of the adult.

From opus at the forum for wild birds and birding.

This species forms a superspecies with Halcyon cyanoventris and most major works recognize four geographic races. They vary clinally in size, the shades of blue on the mantle which is more greenish in smyrnensis and fusca and more blue or purplish in saturatior. H. s. gularis of the Philippines has only the neck and throat white.

It is sometimes treated as a distinct species, H. gularis. Race fusca is found in Peninsular India and Sri Lanka and is slightly smaller, bluer and with a darker brown underside than the nominate race found in northwestern India.

Race saturatior is found in the Andaman Islands and is larger with darker brown underparts.

Race perpulchra (not always recognized) is found in northeastern India and is smaller than fusca with paler underparts. Albinism has been noted on occasion.


noun (PL. -os) a person or animal having a congenital absence of pigment in the skin and hair (which are white) and the eyes (which are usually pink).

• informal an abnormally white animal or plant: [as MODIFIER] an albino tiger

albinism noun

From New Oxford Dictionary of English

The English of white-throated was introduced since the range is large and geographic adjectives would make the name too restrictive, while the older name of white-breasted would not describe the eastern race which has only the throat white.

The call of this kingfisher is a chuckling chake-ake-ake-ake-ake. They are particularly noisy in the breeding season.

Listen to the White-throated Kingfisher

Remarks from the Recordist

Recorded with my ZOOM H5 Handy Recorder. High Pass Filter applied with Audacity

White-throated Kingfisher sitting on a wire. We can hear the reply from another Kingfisher weakly. From second 00:31 we can heard the bird take off and the sound disappears slowly

Behaviour and ecology

Feeding and diet
It perches conspicuously on wires or other exposed perches within its territory, and is a frequent sight in south Asia. This species mainly hunts large crustaceans, insects, earthworms, rodents, snakes, fish and frogs.

Predation of small birds such as the Oriental white-eye, chick of a Red-wattled Lapwing, sparrows and munias have been reported. The young are fed mostly on invertebrates. In captivity, it has been noted that it rarely drinks water although bathing regularly.

The White-throated Kingfisher begins breeding at the onset of the Monsoons. Males perch on prominent high posts in their territory and call in the early morning. The tail may be flicked now and in its courtship display the wings are stiffly flicked open for a second or two exposing the white wing mirrors. They also raise their bill high and display the white throat and front.

The female in invitation makes a rapid and prolonged kit-kit-kit... call. The nest is a tunnel (50 cm long, but a nest with a 3-foot tunnel has been noted in an earth bank. The nest building begins with both birds flying into a suitable mud wall until an indentation is made where they can find a perch hold.

They subsequently perch and continue digging the nest with their bills. Nest tunnels in a haystack have also been recorded. A single clutch of 4-7 round white eggs is typical. The eggs take 20–22 days to hatch while the chicks fledge in 19 days.

Birds have sometimes been seen attracted to lights at night, especially during the monsoon season, suggesting that they are partly migratory.

With a powerful bill and rapid flight, these kingfishers have few predators when healthy and rare cases of predation by a black kite and a jungle crow may be of sick or injured birds.

An individual found dead with its beak embedded into the wood of a tree has been suggested as an accident during rapid pursuit of prey, possibly an Oriental White-eye. A few parasites have been noted.

In the 1800s these birds were hunted for their bright feathers that were used to adorn hats. It is the State bird of West Bengal.

Conservation status
White-throated Kingfisher, White-breasted Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis, นกกะเต็นอกขาว
Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2.
International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A video my friend sent to me, White-throated Kingfishers? The bill looks black on the video.
Thank you ปีศาจแดง ก.กุมานนท์

Sighted: 13th of February 2016
Location: Phetchaburi Rice Fields

Thank's to Nick Upton at for HOT birding tip. His web page is a ONE STOP for everything you need for bird watching in Thailand. There are reviews of the birding sites with maps and information.

And if you like Nick Upton's web page you will also like I have used this page together with Nick Upton's page when planning my birding tours. Excellent reviews and information about the birding sites.

I also got the Thai names of the birds from There is a bird check list with all the names in English and Thai. And of course also the Scientific Name. Down load the birdlist in Microsoft Excel format at Or down load the Excel sheet by clicking HERE

And my new aid, maybe, and I say maybe the best aid. I brought my mobile phone as my SIM card have stopped working and I tried to get it to work again so I can use the internet. Thus I had my phone in my pocket on my first game drive in Jim Corbett National Park.

We saw a bird and I asked my Guide and the driver if they had a pen and a paper as I had forgot my pen and paper in my room. I remembered my LG phone and I recorded the name. And thus I will always bring my phone. Writing the name in the car and I have found more than once that it can be hard to read what I had wrote when I'm back in my room.

So now I always have my mobile in my pocket and it has been a great help. And from November 2018 I use eBird. Bird watching in U.A.E and Oman and my guide in Dubai recommended eBird and I have used the app since then and I note every bird I can identify in my eBird app.

White-throated Kingfisher, White-breasted Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis, นกกะเต็นอกขาว
White-throated Kingfisher / นกกะเต็นอกขาว
13th of February 2016 - Phetchaburi Rice Fields

White-throated Kingfisher, White-breasted Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis, นกกะเต็นอกขาว
White-throated Kingfisher / นกกะเต็นอกขาว
9 June 2020 - Thong Chai paddies, Phetchaburi

White-throated Kingfisher, White-breasted Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis, นกกะเต็นอกขาว
White-throated Kingfisher / นกกะเต็นอกขาว
27 May 2022 - River Khwae, Kanchanaburi

White-throated Kingfisher, White-breasted Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis, นกกะเต็นอกขาว
White-throated Kingfisher / นกกะเต็นอกขาว
29 May 2022 - eBird hotspot: Wang Chula paddies & shrublands

White-throated Kingfisher, White-breasted Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis, นกกะเต็นอกขาว
White-throated Kingfisher / นกกะเต็นอกขาว
29 May 2022 - eBird hotspot: Wang Chula paddies & shrublands

White-throated Kingfisher, White-breasted Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis, นกกะเต็นอกขาว
White-throated Kingfisher / นกกะเต็นอกขาว
29 May 2022 - eBird hotspot: Wang Chula paddies & shrublands

PLEASE! If I have made any mistakes identifying any bird, PLEASE let me know on my guestbook


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