Order: Coraciiformes

Family: Alcedinidae

Scientific name: Halcyon smyrnensis, Linnaeus, 1758

IUCN Red list status-Least Concern

Did you know?

  1. White Throated Kingfisher is also known as White Breasted Kingfisher.
  2. White Throated Kingfisher is the state bird of West Bengal.


White Throated Kingfisher is 28-30 cms long and weighs 85-90 gms.The adult has a bright blue back, wings and tail. Its head, shoulders, flanks and lower belly are chestnut, and the throat and breast are white. The large bill and legs are bright red. The irises are reddish brown. The wings are short and rounded. In flight, large white patches are visible on the blue and black wings. Males and females look alike, but juveniles are a duller version of the adult.


The diet of White-throated kingfisher is mostly large insects. Large crustaceans, large insects, scorpions, centipedes, snails, earthworms, small rodents like voles, mice, squirrels etc, small birds, small reptiles like lizards, chameleons and snakes, fish, frog, toad etc are their primary food. 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.


The habitat of these kingfisher species includes wetlands, mangroves, riversides moist lowland forests, swamps, intertidal mudflats, rocky shoreline, sandy shoreline, beaches, peat lands and bogs. In India it is distribute throughout the plains and lower hills of the union. They are also found in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Reproductive Behaviour

White-throated Kingfisher begins breeding at the onset of the Monsoons. Males perch on prominent high posts in their territory and call in the early morning. The tail may be flicked now and in its courtship display the wings are stiffly flicked open for a second or two exposing the white wing mirrors. They also raise their bill high and display the white throat and front. The female in invitation makes a rapid and prolonged kit-kit-kit… call. The nest is a tunnel of 30-150 cms long which is dig by the pairs with their beaks in an earth bank. The nest-tunnel ends in a wide incubating chamber. Normally 4-7 eggs are laid. The incubation period is 20–22. The young ones are cared by both birds.


The call is a chuckling “chake-ake-ake-ake”.

Related Species and Sub Species

  • Ruddy Kingfisher (Halcyon coromanda).
  • Black Capped Kingfisher (Halcyon pileata).
  • Halcyon smyrnensis smyrnensis of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northwest India.
  • Halcyon smyrnensis saturatior of Andaman Islands.
  • Halcyon smyrnensis perpulchra of eastern India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.
  • Halcyon smyrnensis fusca of India(States of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu) and Sri Lanka.

Migratory Behaviour

Common Resident