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Sacred Kingfisher - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Peter Day
Darwin, Australia, May 2015
Todiramphus sanctus

Halcyon sancta, Todirhamphus sancta


Male on the left – Female on the right
Photo © by Neil
Sydney, Australia, October 2004

22 cm (8¾ in)

  • Turquoise back, rump and tail
  • Buff-white underparts
  • Broad cream collar
  • Broad black eye stripe extending from bill to nape of neck
  • Buff spot in front of eye

Sexes are similar, although the female is generally lighter with duller upper parts.

Photo © by Neil Fifer
Sydney, Australia


Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island, Loyalty, Kermadec & Solomon Islands, Futuna & Fiji Islands, New Caledonia.

Winters north to New Guinea, Indonesia & Melanesia.



Norfolk Island Subspecies - T. s. vagans
Photo © by Ken Doy
Norfolk Island, Territory of Australia, 3 May 2016

There are 4 subspecies[1]:

  • T. s. sanctus:
  • T. s. vagans (norfolkiensis, adamsi) :

While not exhibiting a significant difference from the New Zealand vagans, specimens found on Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island are, at times, treated as a different race of adamsi and norfolkiensis respectively.

  • T. s. canacorum :
  • T. s. macmillani:
  • Loyalty Islands

The subspecies vitiensis, eximius and regina of Collared Kingfisher are sometimes placed in this species.


Woodlands, mangroves and paperbark forests, tall open eucalypt forest near water.



The diet mostly consists of crustaceans, reptiles, insects and their larvae and, occasionally, fish. Hunts from, and returns to, the same low, exposed perch.


The nest hole is excavated by both sexes, normally in a termite mound, but could be a hollow branch or into the river bank. The unlined nest chamber can be as much as 20m above ground. Three to six eggs are laid and cared for by oth adults. The chicks hatch after about 18 days and leave the nest after a further 26 days.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Birds in Backyards
  3. Bird Forum Member observations
  4. Woodall, P. F. and G. M. Kirwan (2020). Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.sackin1.01

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