Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusillus)


French: Martin-pêcheur poucet German: Mangrovezwergfischer Spanish: Martín pescador menudo

Ceyx pusilla


, 1836,

Lobo, Triton Bay, New Guinea


Previously placed in genus Alcedo or sometimes in Alcyone. Recent molecular study, however, found that this species formed a clade with C. azureus and C. websteri and that this clade was sister to the C. erithaca species-group (which see)#R. Nine subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. p. halmaherae (Salomonsen, 1934) – Halmahera, Bacan and Obi (N Moluccas).
  • C. p. pusillus Temminck, 1836 – W Papuan Is, Kai Is and Aru Is through S New Guinea to D’Entrecasteaux Is (Goodenough, Fergusson), and S to islands in Torres Strait and extreme NE Australia (NE Cape York Peninsula, in N Queensland).
  • C. p. laetior (Rand, 1941) – N New Guinea from Geelvink Bay E to Astrolabe Bay.
  • C. p. masauji (Mathews, 1927) – Bismarck Archipelago (New Hanover, New Ireland, Djaul, Tabar Is, Umboi and New Britain).
  • C. p. bougainvillei (Ogilvie-Grant, 1914) – Solomon Is from Buka and Bougainville SE to Choiseul, Santa Isabel and Florida Is.
  • C. p. richardsi (Tristram, 1882) – New Georgia Group (WC Solomons).
  • C. p. aolae (Ogilvie-Grant, 1914) – Guadalcanal (E Solomons).
  • C. p. ramsayi (North, 1912) – N Australia from N Northern Territory (Melville I and Victoria R) E to N Queensland (W Cape York Peninsula).
  • C. p. halli (Mathews, 1912) – E Queensland from Endeavour R S to Keppel Bay.
  • Present in Solomon Is also on Russell and Malaita, subspecies unknown.

    Descriptive notes

    11 cm; male 10–15 g, female 10–14 g. Tiny kingfisher with blue upperparts and white underparts. Both sexes nominate race large white frontal and neck patches,... read more


    High-pitched, repeated “tsee” or “peep” given in flight; at the nest other... read more


    Coastal mangroves, Melaleuca and Nipa swamps, forested tidal or freshwater creeks... read more

    Food and feeding

    Tiny fish, crustaceans, shrimps (Malacostraca), and aquatic beetles (Coleoptera) and insect larvae. Perches quietly on a low perch less... read more


    Lays in Feb in Northern Territory, in Oct–Apr in Queensland, in Jan–Apr in Papua New Guinea, and in Jun on Bougainville. Nest-... read more


    Presumably sedentary, with local movements into flooded areas during the wet season. Recoveries of... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread and locally common. In Australia, density of 0·08 birds/ha in mangroves in Northern Territory. Some subspecies, however, have... read more

    Recommended citation

    Woodall, P.F. (2019). Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusillus). 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 9 December 2019).