Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Blue-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon malimbica)


French: Martin-chasseur à poitrine bleue German: Zügelliest Spanish: Alción pechiazul

Alcedo Malimbica


, 1812,

Malimba, south Cabinda (north Angola)


Molecular study indicated that this species is most closely related to H. badia#R, but taxon-sampling incomplete and relationships within genus remain to be resolved. Isolated population in SW Ethiopia poorly known (ten records, all except one post-1970), provisionally considered to be referable to nominate race, but possibly constitutes an undescribed race#R. Population from Senegal, described as race fortis, now included in torquata; proposed race prenticei (from South Sudan, NE DRCongo and Uganda) inseparable from nominate. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. m. torquata Swainson, 1837 – Senegal E to SW Mali and S to N Guinea.
  • H. m. forbesi Sharpe, 1892 – Sierra Leone E to Nigeria, and SW Cameroon. Reports from Bioko no longer accepted.
  • H. m. dryas Hartlaub, 1853 – Príncipe I and, at least formerly, São Tomé I.
  • H. m. malimbica (Shaw, 1812) – S Cameroon and S Chad#R E to SW South Sudan, W Uganda and NW Tanzania, and S to N & E Angola and NW Zambia; probably this race in SW Ethiopia.
  • Descriptive notes

    25 cm; male 64–94 g (malimbica), female 70–93 g (malimbica), sexes combined 108–121 g (malimbica), 110–130 g (dryas... read more


    Single note, pause for a second, then series of piping whistles, at first short and clipped,... read more


    Rainforest, gallery forest along watercourses in savanna, secondary forest, mangroves, riverine... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly invertebrates, including cockroaches (Blattodea), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), termites (Isoptera), wasps (Hymenoptera), beetles (... read more


    Lays in Aug–Sept in Guinea-Bissau, in Mar–Apr in Ghana, in Jan–Jun in Nigeria, in Aug in Cameroon, in Dec–Jun in... read more


    Largely resident and territories occupied year-round. Some range reduction in dry season, e.g. in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread in W & C Africa, but most common in rainforest and mangroves, becoming more localized and less common in drier habitats; thus, it may... read more

    Recommended citation

    Woodall, P.F., Kirwan, G.M. & de Juana, E. (2019). Blue-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon malimbica). 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).