Order: Coraciiformes

Family: Alcedinidae

Scientific name: Halcyon pileata, Boddaert, 1783

IUCN Red list status-Least Concern

Did you know?

  1. Black Capped Kingfisher got the name due to the black cap like plumage in the head.


Black-capped kingfisher is 25-30 cm long and weighs 70 to 90 grams. They have purple blue wings and back. The head and shoulders are black. The collar, throat and the upper breast are white. The lower breast and the under parts appear soiled and rufous. The large beak and feet are red. The irises are black. In flight, large white patches are visible on the blue and black wings. Both the sexes look similar. The juveniles are duller in plumage and have streaks on the throat.


The diet of Black-capped Kingfisher is mostly fish. Large insects, crabs, shrimps and lizards are also taken. They sit in a perch and carefully watch the surroundings. When a prey is spotted they dive to the ground and catch the prey with the bill. After returning to the perch, the prey animal is battered before swallowing. The forage time is mainly day and it is done solitarily.


Black-capped Kingfisher has an affinity towards salt water and coastal regions. The natural habitat includes mangrove forests, marine lagoons, salt and brackish water lakes, estuaries, rivers, streams, creeks, agricultural lands, rural gardens, plantations and urban areas. In India it is distributed throughout the coastal regions. They are also found in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Reproductive Behaviour

The breeding season of Black-capped Kingfisher is in April in India. During that time, the male sings more frequently from exposed perches and performs some aerial displays accompanied by loud calls. They dig tunnels on earth banks for nesting. At the end of the tunnel there is an incubating chamber where the eggs are laid. Both of the pair takes part in tunnelling and incubating. Normally 4-5 white eggs are laid. Incubation period is unknown. The young ones are cared by both parents.


The call is a ringing “ki-ki-ki-ki-ki” sound.

Related Species and Sub Species

  • Ruddy Kingfisher (Halcyon coromanda).
  • White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis).
  • Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala).
  • Blue-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon malimbica).
  • Mangrove Kingfisher (Halcyon senegaloides).
  • Brown Hooded Kingfisher (Halycon albiventris).
  • Stripped Kingfisher (Halycon chelicuti).

Migratory Behaviour

Uncommon winter visitor.