Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Half-collared Kingfisher (Alcedo semitorquata)


French: Martin-pêcheur à demi-collier German: Kobalteisvogel Spanish: Martín pescador cobalto

Alcedo semitorquata


, 1823,

Great Fish River, South Africa


Recent study suggested that this species is closest to A. quadribrachys, these two being sister to A. atthis and A. coerulescens#R. Formerly considered conspecific with A. atthis. Regional variations in wing length and bill depth are slight and often regarded as insufficient to warrant racial separation. Three subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. s. heuglini Laubmann, 1925 – Eritrea, Ethiopia and adjacent SE Sudan.
  • A. s. tephria Clancey, 1951 – NW, NE & S Tanzania to S Angola, NE Namibia, E Botswana, Zimbabwe and C Mozambique; rare breeding records from Kenya.
  • A. s. semitorquata Swainson, 1823 – S Mozambique and E & S South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    18 cm; 35–40 g. Male black lores with small buff line above, bright cobalt-blue head banded with black, particularly rich blue on ear-coverts and hindneck, white... read more


    High-pitched “tseep” given in flight, and “sip-ip-ip-ip-peep” in alarm; song a thin “tsip-tsip-... read more


    Slow-flowing channels through reedbeds, woodland streams, fast-flowing perennial rivers and streams... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small fish (Alestes, Tilapia, Barbus) 3–7 cm long, also crabs, frogs, aquatic insects and larvae (Odonata... read more


    Lays in Jan–May, mainly Oct, in Tanzania; in Feb–Mar, Jun and Aug–Oct in Zambia; in Jul–Mar, mainly Sept–Oct... read more


    Mainly resident, but some seasonal movements; Feb–Aug visitor to Begemdir and Simien... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread, in a range of habitats, and locally common. Requires at least 1 km of river territory when breeding. Has declined on the Natal coast of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Woodall, P.F. (2019). Half-collared Kingfisher (Alcedo semitorquata). 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 6 December 2019).