Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Azure Kingfisher (Ceyx azureus)


French: Martin-pêcheur à dos bleu German: Azurzwergfischer Spanish: Martín pescador azur

Alcedo azurea


, 1801,

Norfolk Island; error = New South Wales, Australia


Previously placed in genus Alcedo or sometimes in Alcyone. Recent molecular study, however, found that this species formed a clade with C. pusillus and C. websteri and that this clade was sister to the C. erithaca species-group (which see)#R. In the past, race ruficollaris inexplicably and erroneously listed under Todiramphus sanctus. Race yamdenae often included in ruficollaris. Proposed race mixtus (from NE Queensland) apparently an intergrade between nominate and ruficollaris; birds from Aru Is formerly separated from lessonii as race wallaceanus. Seven subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. a. affinis (G. R. Gray, 1861) – Morotai, Halmahera and Bacan (N Moluccas).
  • C. a. lessonii (Cassin, 1850) – W Papuan Is, and lowland S New Guinea E to D’Entrecasteaux Is, also Aru Is.
  • C. a. ochrogaster (Reichenow, 1903) – islands in Geelvink Bay, and N New Guinea from Mamberamo R E to Astrolabe Bay, S to Wahgi Valley, also Karkar I and Admiralty Is.
  • C. a. yamdenae (Rothschild, 1901) – Romang (E Lesser Sundas) and Tanimbar Is.
  • C. a. ruficollaris (Bankier, 1841) – N Australia, from Kimberley E to Cooktown.
  • C. a. azureus Latham, 1801 – E & SE Australia, from Cooktown S to Victoria.
  • C. a. diemenensis (Gould, 1846) – Tasmania.
  • Descriptive notes

    18 cm; male 29–32 g, female 31–35 g. Male nominate race rufous loral spot, large white neck patch, deep ultramarine-blue upperparts extending as patch on side of... read more


    Short, repeated, high-pitched “pseet” in flight; also continuous high-pitched whistle... read more


    Coastal wooded watercourses, estuaries, tidal creeks and lagoons, mangroves, Melaleuca and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly small fish (Cypri­nidae, Salmonidae); also crustaceans (Malacostraca, Parastacidae), and water beetles (Coleoptera), bugs (... read more


    Lays in Sept–Apr in N Australia, in Aug–Feb in S Australia; double-brooded in SE Australia (Victoria). Territorial, pair... read more


    Mainly sedentary, but juveniles disperse varying distances, and some adults wander widely when not... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widely distributed, in a range of habitats; widespread in N, becoming more coastal in S Australia. Some mortality caused by birds colliding with... read more

    Recommended citation

    Woodall, P.F. (2019). Azure Kingfisher (Ceyx azureus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 16 February 2019).