Black-capped kingfisher

   ›      ›   Black-capped kingfisher - Halcyon pileata

The black-capped kingfisher (Halcyon pileata) is a tree kingfisher, belonging to the family Alcedinidae.

The black-capped kingfisher species are distributed in China, North Korea, South Korea, Hong Kong, India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. These kingfisher species mainly inhabit coastal regions, mangroves, estuaries and rivers. The black-capped kingfishers are a monotypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Black-capped Kingfisher Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Appearance, physical description and identification

The black-capped kingfisher (Halcyon pileata) is a medium-sized kingfisher measuring 25 to 30 cm in length and weighing 70 to 90 grams.

The black-capped kingfisher has purple-blue wings and back. The head and shoulders are blackish. The collar, throat and the upper breast are whitish. The lower breast and the underparts appear soiled and rufous.

The beak is large and is bright red. The feet are red. The irises are blackish. Both the sexes appear similar. The juvenile kingfishers are duller in coloration and have streaks on the throat. Their call is a ringing “ki-ki-ki-ki-ki” sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Black-capped kingfisher - Halcyon pileata
Birds of India - Image of Black-capped kingfisher - Halcyon pileata by Sumeet Moghe

Birds of India - Photo of Black-capped kingfisher - Halcyon pileata
Indian birds - Picture of Black-capped kingfisher - Halcyon pileata by Jason Thompson

Indian birds - Image of Black-capped kingfisher - Halcyon pileata
Birds of India - Photo of Black-capped kingfisher - Halcyon pileata by Francesco Veronesi

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The black-capped kingfisher species are distributed in China, North Korea, South Korea, Hong Kong, India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India), Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines.

In India, the black-capped kingfisher species occur in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland.

Ecosystem and habitat

These black-capped kingfisher species have medium forest dependency. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 1500 meters. These black-capped kingfisher species inhabit artificial ecosystems like agricultural lands, rural gardens, plantations and urban areas.

The natural ecosystems of these kingfisher species includes tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, tropical and subtropical mangrove forests, deciduous forest near water, tropical and subtropical dry forests, temperate forests, marine lagoons, brackish water lakes, coastal freshwater lakes, intertidal rocky shoreline, estuaries, rivers, wooded river­banks, streams and creeks.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these black-capped kingfisher species is mostly fish, when they are near water. Fish, large insects, crabs, shrimp and lizards are their primary food. They usually occupy open perches and dive to catch their prey with their beak.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the black-capped kingfisher is in April in India. The laying season is in June in North and South Korea. The breeding season is in May and June in Hong Kong and China. In Myanmar these birds breed during April and May.

These black-capped kingfisher species dig tunnels on earth banks for nesting. At the end of the tunnel is the spacy incubating chamber. Both of the pair take part in tunneling and incubating. The typical clutch contains four or five round and white eggs. The hatchlings do not have feathers and grow them in a week.

Migration and movement patterns

The black-capped kingfisher species are partially migrant birds.

Migratory breeding populations of these kingfisher species are distributed in eastern, central and southern China, North and South Koreas, north Myanmar, north Laos and north Vietnam. Resident populations occur in southeast China (Hainan, Guangxi, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Fujian).

For wintering the northern breeding populations of kingfisher migrate southwards to India, coastal Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, southern Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, southern Laos, southern Vietnam, Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India), Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines.

Black-capped kingfisher - Overview

  • Scientific name: Halcyon pileata
  • Species author: (Boddaert, 1783)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Alcedo pileata Boddaert, 1783
  • Family: Alcedinidae › Coraciiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Black-capped kingfisher, Chinese: 蓝翡翠, French: Martin-chasseur à coiffe noire, German: Kappenliest, Spanish: Alción capirotado, Russian: Ошейниковая альциона, Japanese: ヤマショウビン, Indonesian: Burung Cekakak Cina
  • Other names: Miyako Kingfisher
  • Distribution: China, North Korea, South Korea, Hong Kong, India, Andaman Islands, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asian countries
  • Diet and feeding habits: fish, crabs, large insects, small lizards
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The black-capped kingfisher (Halcyon pileata) is closely related to the grey-headed kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala).

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the black-capped kingfisher (Halcyon pileata) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these species is considered to be decreasing. Throughout its range it is reported to be common to uncommon. The generation length is 3.8 years. Their distribution size is about 5,160,000

The black-capped kingfisher (Halcyon pileata) does not approached the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. Habitat degradation is the main threat that may endanger the survival of these kingfisher species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the kingfisher species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the black-capped kingfisher (Halcyon pileata).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Halcyon pileata
Species:H. pileata
Binomial name:Halcyon pileata
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Sumeet Moghe | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Jason Thompson | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 4/9/17
3.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Francesco Veronesi | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 4/9/17
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