Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Forest Kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayii)


French: Martin-chasseur forestier German: Spiegelliest Spanish: Alción del Macleay

Halcyon Macleayii

Jardine and Selby

, 1830,

Port Essington, Northern Territory, Australia


Member of the T. diops species-group (see T. diops). Name of E New Guinea race sometimes spelt as elizabeth, but present spelling is correct original one. Race elisabeth barely separable from nominate. Proposed race insularis (from Aru Is) regarded as synonym of nominate. Three subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. m. elisabeth (Heine, 1883) – E New Guinea E from Astrolabe Bay in N and from Hall Sound in S.
  • T. m. macleayii (Jardine & Selby, 1830) – N Australia in N Northern Territory (S at least to Victoria R), including Melville–Bathurst Is and Groote Eylandt; some probably migrate to Sermata (E Lesser Sundas) and Aru Is.
  • T. m. incinctus (Gould, 1838) – NE Australia from Cape York Peninsula S to NE New South Wales (to Macleay R); S population migrates N as far as SE Moluccas (Kai Is), S New Guinea and Bismarck Archipelago.
  • Descriptive notes

    20 cm; male 32–43 g, female 29–44 g. Smallish kingfisher with blue-and-white plumage. Male nominate race has prominent white loral spot, dark blue crown, black... read more


    “High Rolling Call” a repeated high-pitched “pee-pee-pee”, by male in... read more


    Forest bordering swamps, monsoon forest, wet Melaleuca forest, mangroves, open eucalypt (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet comprises wide range of invertebrates, including grasshoppers (Acrididae), stick-insects (Phasmida), cockroaches (Blattodea), beetles... read more


    Lays in Jan in Papua New Guinea, in Sept–Dec in Northern Territory, in Aug–Feb in Queensland, and in Oct–Dec in New South... read more


    Race elizabeth in Papua New Guinea resident; nominate race in Northern Territory also... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread, and found in a range of habitats. Density of 0·4 birds/ha in Kakadu National Park; elsewhere in Northern Territory densities of 0... read more

    Recommended citation

    Woodall, P.F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Forest Kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayii). 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).