Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Red-backed Kingfisher (Todiramphus pyrrhopygius)


French: Martin-chasseur à dos de feu German: Rotbürzelliest Spanish: Alción culirrojo

Halcyon pyrrhopygia


, 1841,

interior of New South Wales, Australia


Birds of NW Australia were awarded race obscurus, but inseparable from those in rest of range. Monotypic.


Australia (except extreme SW & SE and Tasmania).

Descriptive notes

22 cm; male 45–70 g, female 41–62 g. Smallish kingfisher with distinctive streaky green crown, and rufous lower back and rump. Male white forehead and eyebrow,... read more


Single downward-inflected note, “pee-eee”, may be repeated every 3 seconds in long... read more


Most common in arid or semi-arid zones and seasonally dry tropics with open woodland, mallee, open... read more

Food and feeding

Locusts and grasshoppers (Orthoptera), leaf insects (Phasmida), mantids (Mantodea), beetles (Cerambycidae, Dytiscidae, Scarabaeidae,... read more


Lays in Aug–Feb in N Australia, in Sept–Feb in S; breeds opportunistically in C Australia, continuously in abnormally wet years... read more


In S parts of range seems to be largely a migrant, moving S in austral summer (Aug–Apr) to... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Although sparsely distributed, it is widespread in Australia in a variety of dry habitats. Density of 0·01 birds/ha in Northern Territory, and 19... read more

Recommended citation

Woodall, P.F. (2019). Red-backed Kingfisher (Todiramphus pyrrhopygius). 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).