Blue-capped kingfisher -- 蓝顶翡翠 (Actenoides hombroni)

Male blue-capped kingfisher
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Blue-capped kingfisher fact file

Blue-capped kingfisher description

GenusActenoides (1)

The blue-capped kingfisher is a stunning bird named for its dark purple-blue crown. It has a ‘moustache’ of the same colour, and a prominent, dagger-shaped, red bill. Its cheeks and underparts are burnt-orange and the throat is white. The plumage on the back and tail is greenish-blue. The colour of the female’s plumage is duller than that of the male and is more olive-green on the back (2). Despite its conspicuous, colourful plumage, the blue-capped kingfisher is reportedly difficult to observe and easily overlooked (2), but its long melancholic whistles can be heard just before sunrise (3).

Length: 27 cm (2)
Male weight: 108 – 124 g (2)
Female weight: 106 – 147 g (2)

Blue-capped kingfisher biology

Despite its name, the blue-capped kingfisher is thought to capture fish only occasionally. Instead, it feeds primarily on grasshoppers and locusts, beetles and their larvae, snails, frogs, and small reptiles (2). The kingfisher sits motionless on a perch, watching for movement. When prey is spotted, it takes off in pursuit of its chosen victim (2) (5). The breeding season of the blue-capped kingfisher is believed to extend from January to July, with a peak of activity between March and May (2) (4).


Blue-capped kingfisher range

Endemic to the island of Mindanao, in the south-west Philippines (2)


Blue-capped kingfisher habitat

The blue-capped kingfisher inhabits rainforest from 100 to 2,400 meters, but mostly over 1,000 meters. It chiefly occurs in primary forest although there is evidence that it occasionally occurs in secondary forest and disturbed habitats (2) (4).


Blue-capped kingfisher status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Blue-capped kingfisher threats

The blue-capped kingfisher has a restricted range in which its forest habitat is rapidly disappearing, causing a decline in population numbers (2) (4). In the late 1980s, Mindanao retained only 29 percent of its original forest cover, and further loss and degradation has taken place since (6). Slash-and-burn agriculture, harvesting of non-timber forest products such as rattan and palm, logging operations and mining activities, have all played their part in the destruction of Mindanao’s forests and the kingfisher’s home. Civil strife has also often had a negative impact on the natural habitat, and rebellion groups deliberately setting fire to forests is a problem, particularly on the Zamboanga Peninsula. Even within so-called protected areas, widespread and unchecked illegal logging threatens Mindanao’s wildlife (6).


Blue-capped kingfisher conservation

The blue-capped kingfisher has been recorded within Mount Kitanglad Natural Park, Mount Malindang National Park and Mount Matutum Forest Reserve, which may offer some protection, although, as mentioned above, illegal activities still pose a threat. The blue-capped kingfisher was also recorded in Mount Apo Natural Park many years ago, but this area has since suffered massive human encroachment which the kingfisher may not have survived (2). Further information on the blue-capped kingfisher’s biology is urgently required (2), which can be used to inform future conservation actions.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on conservation in the Philippines see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:



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A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Primary forest
Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.


  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2007)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2001) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol.6: Mousebirds to Hornbills. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. BirdLife International (October, 2007)
  4. BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
  5. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  6. BirdLife International. (2003) Saving Asia's Threatened Birds: a Guide for Government and Civil Society. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Image credit

Male blue-capped kingfisher  
Male blue-capped kingfisher

© Leif Gabrielsen

Leif Gabrielsen


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