Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Blue-winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii)


French: Martin-chasseur à ailes bleues German: Haubenliest Spanish: Cucaburra aliazul

Dacelo leachii

Vigors and Horsfield

, 1827,

Keppel Bay, eastern Australia


Racial differentiation difficult to assess, as distribution almost continuous and plumage colours affected by environmental factors (darker in wetter areas); treated as comprising variously from one to up to five races in Australia. Proposed race mungi, formerly united with occidentalis, now included within nominate; cliftoni is synonym of occidentalis; superflua from S New Guinea and kempi from N Queensland (Cape York Peninsula) are insufficiently distinct to be accepted. Four subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. l. intermedia Salvadori, 1876 – S & SE New Guinea from Mimika R to Fly R and from Eloa R to Amazon Bay.
  • D. l. cervina Gould, 1838 – Tiwi Is (Melville, Bathurst) and adjacent mainland coastal areas of Northern Territory, in N Australia.
  • D. l. leachii Vigors & Horsfield, 1827 – N Australia E to Cape York Peninsula, S to Broome (N Western Australia) in W and to Brisbane (SE Queensland), rarely to Byron Bay (NE New South Wales), in E.
  • D. l. occidentalis Gould, 1869 – W Pilbara and Gascoyne regions of Western Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    38–41 cm; male 250–322 g, female 260–370 g. Very large, distinctive kingfisher, with pale head and eye, blue wings and rump. Male nominate race faintly dark... read more


    Loud chorus by 2 or more birds, particularly at dawn or dusk, up to 8 groups calling in turn,... read more


    Savanna woodland and eucalypt (Eucalyptus) open woodland and forest, tall trees and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Wide variety of animals, mainly invertebrates, grasshoppers (Acrididae, Tettigoniidae), crickets (Gryllacridae, Gryllidae), mantids (... read more


    Lays in Sept–Jan. Monogamous. Breeds as pair or as group of up to 12, most often 3 individuals; group consists of breeding pair and... read more


    Generally sedentary, many adults remaining in same territory for at least 5 years. Local seasonal... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common over most of its range, becoming abundant in E Cape York Peninsula. Density of 0·05 birds/ha in woodland with a grass... read more

    Recommended citation

    Woodall, P.F. (2020). Blue-winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii). 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 28 February 2020).