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


shanghaibirding.com covers every species of kingfisher in China. Click any link:

Crested Kingfisher
Crested Kingfisher

Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis
Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda
Black-capped Kingfisher H. pileata
White-throated Kingfisher H. smyrnensis
Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris
Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting
Common Kingfisher A. atthis
Blyth’s Kingfisher A. hercules
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca
Crested Kingfisher Megaceryle lugubris
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis


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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