Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Black-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis melanorhyncha)


French: Martin-chasseur à bec noir German: Schwarzschnabelliest Spanish: Alción piquinegro
Other common names: Great-billed Kingfisher

Alcedo melanorhyncha


, 1826,



Closely related to P. capensis. Races purportedly differ in size and in bill pattern, but latter may be highly variable individually#R, and size differences possibly questionable; further study desirable. Race eutreptorhyncha appears intermediate between nominate and dichrorhyncha. Three subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. m. melanorhyncha (Temminck, 1826) – Sulawesi and associated islands (Manadotua, Bangka, Lembeh, Dodepo, Togian Is, Wowoni, Kabaena, Muna, Butung, Labuandata, Salayar).
  • P. m. dichrorhyncha A. B. Meyer & Wiglesworth, 1896 – Banggai Is.
  • P. m. eutreptorhyncha E. J. O. Hartert, 1898 – Sula Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    35 cm; male 184 g, female 203 g. Large kingfisher characterized by pied plumage, large bill. Both sexes of nominate race have whitish head, dusky forehead and around eye,... read more


    Loud, barking “kak-kak-kak”, or repeated “ke-kak”, also series of yapping... read more


    Estuaries, mangroves, coastal scrub and wooded seashores, shrubby sea cliffs, coastal islets and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly crabs and crayfish. Perches on a branch above shallows and scans the water; plunges down for prey, which is brought back to perch... read more


    Birds in breeding condition in Sept on Muna and Butung. No other information.


    Presumably sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widely but sparsely distributed; common in some localities, including most of Banggai Is (Peleng, Banggai, Labobo and Bangkalan) and on ccoasts of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Woodall, P.F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Black-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis melanorhyncha). 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 17 November 2019).