Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Moluccan Dwarf-kingfisher (Ceyx lepidus)


French: Martin-pêcheur gracieux German: Molukkenzwergfischer Spanish: Martín pigmeo de las Molucas
Other common names: Variable Dwarf-kingfisher, Variable Kingfisher (in expanded form, see below)

Ceyx lepida


, 1836,



Until recently, considered to form a widespread polytypic species, incorporating C. margarethae, C. wallacii, C. cajeli, C. solitarius, C. dispar, C. mulcatus, C. sacerdotis, C. meeki, C. collectoris, C. nigromaxilla and C. gentianus; however, molecular analysis suggests separate species status for these various forms#R and this is supported by morphological evidence (for differences see the other species). Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. l. uropygialis G. R. Gray, 1861 – Morotai, Halmahera, Ternate, Tidore, Bacan, Bisa and Obi (N Moluccas).
  • C. l. lepidus Temminck, 1836 – Ambelau, Ambon, Seram, Saparua, Seram Laut and Watubela (S Moluccas).
  • Descriptive notes

    14 cm; male 11–21 g, female 13–24 g. Small kingfisher with three toes. Both sexes of nominate race have orange loral spot, white bar on sides of neck, blackish... read more


    Shrill repeated “tzeeip” in flight, also shrill “chree”; possible duetting... read more


    Primary and secondary rainforest, monsoon forest, thick vegetation along streams, overgrown... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, such as dragonflies (Odonata), mayflies (Ephemeroptera), midges (Culicomorpha), grasshoppers and locusts (Orthoptera), crickets (... read more


    Lays in Sept in Moluccas. Nest in an earth or streamside bank, in earth around roots of a fallen tree, or in termite nest; short tunnel, 5... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Species is widely distributed, over a great number of islands, and is common in many areas. Information on the species’ ecology and behaviour is... read more

    Recommended citation

    Woodall, P.F., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Moluccan Dwarf-kingfisher (Ceyx lepidus). 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 22 November 2019).