Winchell's kingfisher

Winchell's kingfisher or the rufous-lored kingfisher[2] (Todiramphus winchelli[1]) is a species of bird in the family Alcedinidae, the kingfishers. It is endemic to the Philippines, its natural habitat being lowland forests. It is threatened by deforestation, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed it as a vulnerable species.

Winchell's kingfisher
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Alcedinidae
Subfamily: Halcyoninae
Genus: Todiramphus
T. winchelli
Binomial name
Todiramphus winchelli
(Sharpe, 1877)

Todirhamphus winchelli (Sharpe, 1877) [orth. error]
Halcyon winchelli Sharpe, 1877


This species was described as Halcyon Winchelli by British ornithologist Richard Bowdler Sharpe in 1877, using a specimen collected by American ornithologist Joseph Beal Steere.[3] It was named after American geologist Newton Horace Winchell,[4] as requested by Steere.[3] Although two subspecies were later described, they were usually considered synonymous with the nominate before 1966. That year Kenneth C. Parkes studied a series of 45 specimens and recognised five subspecies, two of which were new.[5] All five are still recognised: Todiramphus winchelli nigrorum found in the central and east-central Philippines, T. w. nesydrionetes in the north-central Philippines, T. w. mindanensis on Mindanao, T. w. winchelli on Basilan, and T. w. alfredi on the Sulu Archipelago in the southwest.[6]


Winchell's kingfisher is about 25 cm (9.8 in) long.[7] The crown is blackish-blue, with cobalt-blue edges, and the lores and neck-collar are rufous.[2] The upperparts are mostly blackish and dark blue, with a bright azure-blue rump. The underparts are white in the male, and buff in the female. The eyes are dark brown, the beak is black, and the legs are greyish. The juvenile bird is similar to the female, but with duller plumage.[7] The subspecies are coloured different shades of blue. A black patch on the sides of the male's breast is conspicuous in subspecies nigrorum and concealed in others, and in nesydrionetes, the female has an orange breast forming a band between the whitish throat and belly.[5][7]

Distribution and habitat

This species is endemic to the Philippines, ranging from Samar and Tablas south to Mindanao, Basilan and the Sulu Archipelago.[7] It appears to be locally common on some islands, but it is rare in other localities.[1] It lives in forest below 1,000 m (3,300 ft) in elevation,[2] being found in coastal lowlands and foothills. Its tolerance of degraded forest is uncertain.[1]


This kingfisher often perches in the canopy and sometimes descends to lower perches and to the ground, probably to feed.[7] One of its calls is an ascending series of harsh chup and chep notes, and another consists of three rising notes and then a long descending series chu chu chu chu.[2] Loud sqawking has also been heard.[7] It batters its prey, which consists of large insects, spiders[7] and small vertebrates. Little is known about its breeding.[2] Nesting in a used arboreal termite nest has been recorded.[1]


The population size is estimated at 2,500–9,999 mature individuals, or 3,500–15,000 individuals in total. Forest clearance and illegal logging are causing habitat loss and a fast population decline, so the IUCN has assessed it as a vulnerable species. This species has been recorded in some protected areas, such as Mount Guiting-Guiting and Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape.[1]


  1. BirdLife International (2016). "Todiramphus winchelli". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T22683291A92983266. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22683291A92983266.en. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  2. Kennedy, Robert S.; Gonzales, Pedro C.; Dickinson, Edward C.; Miranda, Hector C. Jr; Fisher, Timothy H. (2000). A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines. Oxford University Press. pp. 203–204. ISBN 9780198546689.
  3. Sharpe, R. B. (1877). "On the Birds collected by Professor J. B. Steere in the Philippine Archipelago". Transactions of the Linnean Society of London. 2. 1: 318.
  4. Jobling, James A. (2010). Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. Bloomsbury. p. 408. ISBN 9781408133262.
  5. Parkes, Kenneth C. (1966). "Geographic variation in Winchell's Kingfisher Halcyon winchelli, of the Philippines". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 86: 82–86.
  6. Gill, F.; Donsker, D. (eds.). "Rollers, ground rollers, kingfishers". IOC World Bird List Version 8.1. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  7. Fry, C. Hilary; Fry, Kathie (2010) [First published 1992]. Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and Rollers. Bloomsbury. pp. 162–163. ISBN 9781408135259.
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