Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Mountain Kingfisher (Syma megarhyncha)


French: Martin-chasseur montagnard German: Bergliest Spanish: Alción montano
Other common names: Greater Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Mountain Yellow-billed Kingfisher

Syma megarhyncha


, 1896,

Moroka, New Guinea


Close to S. torotoro, and some possible hybrids between the two species reported. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. m. wellsi Mathews, 1918 – W New Guinea (Snow Mts and Weyland Mts).
  • S. m. sellamontis Reichenow, 1919 – NE New Guinea (in mountains of Huon Peninsula).
  • S. m. megarhyncha Salvadori, 1896 – C & SE New Guinea from Central Highlands E to Owen Stanley Range.
  • Descriptive notes

    24 cm; male 52–60 g, female 49–63 g. Male nominate race rufous head and underparts, black loral patch, black nape patch, greenish-blue upperparts, dark blue tail... read more


    Loud trilling call, lasting several seconds, seems identical to that of S. torotoro.


    Primary forest and secondary growth, mainly between 1200 m and 2200 m, occasionally down to 760 m.... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, larvae, and small lizards. Perches for long periods in middle and upper canopy, before diving for prey in the foliage or on the... read more


    Lays in Dec in Papua New Guinea. Nest-site a hole in an earth bank or a hole in tree. Clutch 2 eggs; no information on incubation and... read more


    Presumably sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common, but generally scarce. Rather little-known species; more information is required on its biology.

    Recommended citation

    Woodall, P.F. (2019). Mountain Kingfisher (Syma megarhyncha). 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).