Order: Coraciiformes

Family:  Alcedinidae

Scientific name: Pelargopsis capensis, Linnaeus, 1766

IUCN Red list status-Least Concern

Did you know?

  1. Stork Billed Kingfisher is the largest Kingfisher found in Kerala.


Stork-billed Kingfisher is 30-35 cm long and weighs 140 to 180 grams and the females weigh about 180 to 220 grams. The head is pale olive brown and the back is bluish green. The neck, breast and under parts are buff. The wings and tail are blue. The bill is large and red with purple distal end. The legs are bright red. The irises are dark blackish brown and bare skin around the eyes is pale red. Both sexes look similar but female is slightly larger than male.


The main diet of Stork-billed Kingfisher species is marine and freshwater fish. Frogs, fish, crabs and shrimps, lizards, rodents, young birds, large insects and several terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates are also taken. The forage time is mainly day and it is done solitarily or in pairs.


The habitat of Stork-billed Kingfisher includes natural freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, creeks, canals, large water holding pits and ditches, mangrove vegetation etc. In India it is distributed throughout the union except Rajasthan and the adjoining arid areas. They are also seen in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Reproductive Behaviour

The breeding season of Stork-billed Kingfisher is from January to September in India. They are cavity nesters. They dig tunnels into the earth banks on the sides of rivers and lakes. Sometimes they may tunnel into decaying trees or tree termite nests also. They are monogamous and highly territorial. The incubating chamber is at the very end of the tunnel. Normally 2-5 white eggs are laid. Both the parents share incubation and young ones care.


The call is a distinctive cackling “kye-kye-kye-kye” sound.

Related Species and Sub Species

  • Great Billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis melanorhyncha).
  • Brown Winged Kingfisher (Pelargopsis amauropterus).
  • Pelargopsis capensis floresiana of Indonesian islands.
  • Pelargopsis capensis gouldi of Western Philippines.
  • Pelargopsis capensis javana of Indonesian island and Java.
  • Pelargopsis capensis capensis of India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
  • Pelargopsis capensis burmanica of Myanmar, Thailand and Indochina.
  • Pelargopsis capensis osmastoni of Andaman Island.

Migratory Behaviour

Common Resident