Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Chocolate-backed Kingfisher (Halcyon badia)


French: Martin-chasseur marron German: Kastanienliest Spanish: Alción castaño

Halcyon (Cancrophaga) badia

J. P. Verreaux and J. B. É. Verreaux

, 1851,



Molecular study indicated that this species is closest to H. malimbica#R, but taxon-sampling incomplete and relationships within genus remain to be resolved. Shows some affinities to larger H. smyrnensis, H. gularis and H. cyanoventris. Slightly darker race obscuridorsalis sometimes regarded as too poorly distinguished to be accorded subspecific treatment. Birds of Bioko I described as race lopezi and those from W Uganda as budongoensis, but neither is considered sufficiently distinct to merit recognition. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. b. obscuridorsalis Dickerman & Cane, 1994 – Sierra Leone to Ghana.
  • H. b. badia J. P. Verreaux & J. B. É. Verreaux, 1851 – from S Nigeria, Bioko I and S Cameroon E to S Central African Republic, DRCongo and extreme W Uganda (forests of Maragambo, Bwamba, Bugoma and Budongo) and S to Gabon and, marginally, N Angola (Cabinda, R Cuango).
  • Descriptive notes

    21 cm; male 54–65 g, female 47–65 g. Medium-sized, dumpy kingfisher. Both sexes have very dark chestnut head and upperparts, brilliant azure-blue on secondaries,... read more


    Single weak “pee”, followed after 1 second by up to c. 17 long, fluty, pure notes... read more


    Primary and secondary lowland forest, from sea-level to 1500 m; not associated with aquatic... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, mainly grasshoppers (Orthoptera) and beetles (Elateridae), also mantises (Mantodea), crickets (Grylloidea), cicadas (Cicadidae),... read more


    Lays in Mar in Liberia and Nigeria, in Jun and Oct in Cameroon, around Nov on Bioko I, in Oct, Jan and Feb in Gabon, and in Sept in Zaire.... read more


    Presumed to be sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in areas of suitable habitat; in Ghana and Nigeria it is uncommon, and confined to forest reserves and national parks. Occurs in Gola Forests... read more

    Recommended citation

    Woodall, P.F. (2019). Chocolate-backed Kingfisher (Halcyon badia). 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).