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Stork-billed Kingfisher - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies P. c. malaccensis
Photo © by the late Laurence Poh
Kramat Pulai, Perak, Malaysia
Pelargopsis capensis

Halcyon capensis


Nominate subspecies
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Amboli Ghat, Alt. 2265 ft., Western Ghat, Dist. Sindhudurg, Maharashtra, India, February-2019

35–41 cm (13¾-16¼ in). A very large tree kingfisher.
Adult: green back, blue wings and tail, light brown head, buffy-orange underparts; very large bright red bill, orange-red eye ring, legs also red.
Sexes are similar.

Similar Species

The very large red bill makes it unmistakable.


Tropical south Asia from India and Sri Lanka, through SE Asia to Indonesia.


Previously Halcyon capensis.


Subspecies P. c. innominata
Photo © by darwin1601
Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia, November 2018

There are 15 races, differing in plumage, for instance, P.c. gigantea found in the Sulu Islands, has a white head, neck and underparts[1]:

  • P. c. capensis from Nepal to India, Sri Lanka and north-western Myanmar
  • P. c. burmanica from Myanmar to Thailand, Indochina and south to Isthmus of Kra
  • P. c. intermedia on the Nicobar Islands
  • P. c. osmastoni on the Andaman Islands
  • P. c. malaccensis on the South Malay Peninsula, Riau Archipelago and Lingga Archipelago
  • P. c. cyanopteryx on Sumatra, Bangka and Billiton islands
  • P. c. simalurensis on Simeulue Island (off north-western Sumatra)
  • P. c. sodalis on Banyak Island (off north-western Sumatra)
  • P. c. nesoeca on Nias Island and Batu Islands (off western Sumatra)
  • P. c. isoptera on the Mentawi Archipelago (Pagai, Siberut and Sipura)
  • P. c. innominata on Borneo
  • P. c. floresiana on the Lesser Sundas (Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa and Flores)
  • P. c. javana on Java
  • P. c. gouldi on the Philippines (Balabac, Culion, Lubang, Mindoro, Palawan, Calauit)
  • P. c. gigantea (smithi) in Central and southern Philippines


Forested areas near lakes, rivers and coasts.


Very territorial and will chase off large predators, such as eagles.

Subspecies P. c. osmastoni
Photo © by drkishore
Andaman Islands, India, 17 January 2019


They will perch quietly while hunting fish, crabs, frogs, rodents and young birds.


Flight is direct, but rather labored and flapping.


They dig a hole for its nest in a river bank, rotten tree or tree termite nest, where the female lays 2-5 round, white eggs.


This is a noisy kingfisher, giving a low and carrying peer-por-por about every 5 seconds, and also a cackling ke-ke-ke-ke-ke-ke.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved November 2018)

Recommended Citation

External Links

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