White-throated Kingfisher

White-throated Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis, Yunnan, China (22.281150, 100.613662), elev. 600 m (1,970 ft.), January. (Craig Brelsford)
White-throated Kingfisher
Yunnan, January. (Craig Brelsford)

White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis ranges Turkey to Philippines, with fokiensis in southern China, from Sichuan to Zhejiang and Hainan; also Taiwan. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Watery and terrestrial habitats, mainly in lowlands, to 1200 m (3,940 ft.). Like many kingfishers, takes fish but also other small vertebrates (reptiles, mice, even birds) as well as invertebrates (crustaceans, insects, earthworms). ID & COMPARISON Large, slender, readily distinguishable from Black-capped Kingfisher H. pileata (same pattern above, but White-throated has purplish-blue replaced by turquoise). Unbroken chestnut-brown head, neck, flanks, and underparts below belly. Chin to breast white. Back, wings, and tail iridescent turquoise. Upper-wing coverts black, except for brown shoulders and turquoise primary coverts; secondaries turquoise; large white primary patch, visible only in flight; wing tips black. Juvenile scaled on white breast. BARE PARTS Large, lipstick-red bill; red feet. VOICE Shrill call reminiscent of neighing horse. — Craig Brelsford


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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