Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Yellow-billed Kingfisher (Syma torotoro)


French: Martin-chasseur torotoro German: Gelbschnabelliest Spanish: Alción torotoro
Other common names: Lesser Yellow-billed Kingfisher

Syma torotoro


, 1827,

Manokwari, New Guinea


Close to S. megarhyncha, with which has possibly hybridized. Birds from SE New Guinea formerly awarded race meeki, but here considered inseparable from nominate; other forms now subsumed within nominate include tentelare (of Aru Is) and pseustes and brevirostris (both of SC New Guinea). Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. t. torotoro Lesson, 1827 – W Papuan Is (Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, Misool), lowland New Guinea, Yapen I (in Geelvink Bay) and Aru Is.
  • S. t. ochracea Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1901 – D’Entrecasteaux Is.
  • S. t. flavirostris (Gould, 1850) – Cape York Peninsula (S to Weipa and Massy Creek), in NE Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    20 cm; male 32–50 g, female 30–52 g. Distinctive small kingfisher with yellow bill; often holds crown feathers raised. Male of nominate race has rufous head,... read more


    Loud, clear, short trill lasting 1–2 seconds, descending slightly and ending abruptly, or... read more


    Primary and secondary rainforest, monsoon, gallery, vine and mangrove forest, mature teak and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), mantids (Mantodea), cicadas (Cicadidae), butterflies, dragonflies (... read more


    Lays in Nov–Jan in Cape York Peninsula; probably in Aug–Mar in Papua New Guinea. Much singing and aggression at start of... read more


    Sedentary; all 24 recoveries of ringed birds were less than 10 km from ringing site; in Papua New... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widely distributed and quite common, particularly at lower altitudes. Occurs in Varirata National Park, in Papua New Guinea. Density near Port... read more

    Recommended citation

    Woodall, P.F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Yellow-billed Kingfisher (Syma torotoro). 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 2018).