Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Shovel-billed Kingfisher (Clytoceyx rex)


French: Martin-chasseur bec-en-cuillère German: Froschschnabelliest Spanish: Martín cazador picopala
Other common names: Shovel-billed Kookaburra

Clytoceyx rex


, 1880,

East Cape, New Guinea


N population described as race septentrionalis, but plumage variation is not constant. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. r. rex Sharpe, 1880 – W, C & SE New Guinea from Vogelkop E to Finisterre and Owen Stanley Range.
  • C. r. imperator van Oort, 1909 – S slope of Maoke Mts from Noord R to Mt Goliath, in SW New Guinea.
  • Descriptive notes

    30–34 cm; male 245–310 g, female 247–325 g. Large, heavy kingfisher with relatively short but massive arched bill, dark brown head, dark upperparts, orange... read more


    Call of 3–4 clear liquid notes lasting 1 second, descending, final note slightly separated,... read more


    Lowland and hill rainforest to 2400 m, but found mainly on hills and lower mountains in wet forest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Earthworms (Oligochaeta), insects and their larvae, snails (Gastropoda), lizards and snakes; said also to take small mice; an early report... read more


    Male collected in Jan had enlarged testes, and 2 in Jan had noticeable brood patches. A fledgling purchased in Oct from a market near Wau... read more


    Presumed to be sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widely distributed in New Guinea in suitable habitat, but apparently uncommon. Information required on its breeding biology, as well as on its... read more

    Recommended citation

    Woodall, P.F. (2019). Shovel-billed Kingfisher (Clytoceyx rex). 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).