Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Black-capped Kingfisher (Halcyon pileata)


French: Martin-chasseur à coiffe noire German: Kappenliest Spanish: Alción capirotado

Alcedo pileata


, 1783,



Closely related to H. leucocephala. Monotypic.


Korea, E, C & S China (from Liaoning to E Gansu and S to Hainan) and N Indochina; sporadic breeding reported in India. Winters S to India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indochina, Malay Peninsula, Andaman and Nicobar Is, Greater Sundas, Sulawesi and S Philippines.

Descriptive notes

28–31·5 cm; 67–91 g. Medium-sized kingfisher that is difficult to mistake for any other species over its wide range. Both sexes have black head, white... read more


Ringing cackle, “kikikikikikiki”, similar to but higher-pitched than that of H.... read more


In temperate regions inhabits deciduous forest near water, such as wooded river­banks, and... read more

Food and feeding

In inland habitats, insects such as dragonflies and dragonfly nymphs (Odonata), water boatmen (Notonectidae), locusts and grasshoppers (... read more


Lays from Apr in India; in Apr–May in Myanmar, in Jun in Korea, and in May–Jun in Hong-Kong. Nest at end of tunnel dug by both... read more


Migratory in N of range. Breeders present in China and Korea May–Oct; non-breeding visitors... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Has a wide distribution and uses broad range of habitats. Not well known, and no figures on population sizes; locally frequent or... read more

Recommended citation

Woodall, P.F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Black-capped Kingfisher (Halcyon pileata). 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).