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Sacred Kingfisher

Todiramphus sanctus

Quick facts

Size: Averages 20 cm long including short tail, 40 g.


Range and lifestyle: Migratory, living in one place where they breed during summer, then flying up to 1,000 km or more to another place to spend their “winter”.


Food: Small reptiles, insects, frogs, fish and crustaceans.

Breeding: Usually nest in a hole drilled into a termite nest on a tree. Female lays 3-6 glossy white eggs that take 17-18 days to incubate.

  • The staccato “kek kek kek kek” calls of these handsome green-blue and white birds are as much a symbol of summer as is the loud buzzing of cicadas.

  • They take up territories in Brisbane in August or September, and after breeding, many migrate north to spend the winter as far away as New Guinea and eastern Indonesia.

  • Some Sacred Kingfishers can be found in Brisbane throughout the year, mostly in mangroves. It is not known if these are local birds or migrants from further south.

  • As is the case with their largest relative, the Laughing Kookaburra, they nest inside a hollow tunnel. In Queensland, nests are usually excavated in termite mounds on trees, but sometimes they use tree hollows or dig tunnels into earth banks.

Text © Richard Noske 2021 CC BY-NC-SA


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