Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Beach Kingfisher (Todiramphus saurophagus)


French: Martin-chasseur à tête blanche German: Echsenliest Spanish: Alción lagartijero

Halcyon saurophaga


, 1843,

between Yapen and Cape d’Urville, New Guinea


Closely related to T. chloris but much larger. Race anachoreta sometimes merged with admiralitatis; population of Kaniet Is may warrant recognition as a separate race. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. s. saurophagus (Gould, 1843) – N Moluccas, W Papuan Is, NW, N & SE coasts of New Guinea (including islands in Geelvink Bay), New Britain, New Ireland and satellite islands, D’Entrecasteaux Is, Louisiade Archipelago, and Solomon Is from Bougainville to Makira (San Cristobal).
  • T. s. anachoreta (Reichenow, 1898) – Wuvulu, Ninigo Is, Hermit Is and Kaniet Is (extreme NW Bismarck Archipelago).
  • T. s. admiralitatis (Sharpe, 1892) – Admiralty Is (NW Bismarck Archipelago).
  • Descriptive notes

    30 cm; male 90–146 g, female 110–146 g. Large kingfisher. Both sexes nominate race white head, neck and underparts, small black line behind eye, green-blue back,... read more


    Similar to T. chloris but louder and deeper, “kill kill”, or “kee-kee-... read more


    Beaches with driftwood and a few perches, rocky shores, coral cliffs and pools, headlands, mangrove... read more

    Food and feeding

    Crabs, fish, insects and their larvae, and lizards. At low tide feeds mainly on crabs; at high tide moves into coastal vegetation, taking... read more


    Lays in Aug–Dec in New Guinea. Nest in tree hole or in end of hollow branch 3–5 m above ground, possibly sometimes in the... read more


    In dry season, May–Nov, some movements reported from offshore islands to mainland of N Papua... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread, but little information on population levels; scarce in some areas and common in others. Recorded densities of up to 1·5 pairs/ha, and 8... read more

    Recommended citation

    Woodall, P.F. (2019). Beach Kingfisher (Todiramphus saurophagus). 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 22 November 2019).