Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Black-capped kingfisher

Thai: นกกะเต็นหัวดำ, nok kraten hua dam

Binomial name: Halcyon pileata, Pieter Boddaert, 1783

The black-capped kingfisher (Halcyon pileata) is a tree kingfisher which is widely distributed in tropical Asia from India east to China, Korea and Southeast Asia. This most northerly of the Halcyonidae is resident over much of its range, but northern populations are migratory and they wintering south of their range to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Borneo and Java. It is distinctive in having a black cap that contrasts with the whitish throat, purple blue wings and the coral red bill. The species is mainly found in coastal and mangrove habitats but can sometimes be found far inland.

Description

This kingfisher is about 28 cm long. The adult has a purple-blue wings and back, black head and shoulders, white neck collar and throat, and rufous underparts. The large bill and legs are bright red. In flight, large white patches or "mirrors" at the base of the primaries are visible on the blue and black wings. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are a duller version of the adult and show streaks on the throat. The call of this kingfisher is a cackling ki-ki-ki-ki-ki.

Usually seen on coastal waters and especially in mangroves, it is easily disturbed, but perches conspicuously and dives to catch fish but also feeds on large insects. The flight of the black-capped kingfisher is rapid and direct, the short rounded wings whirring.

The breeding season is in summer. The nest is a tunnel in an earth bank. A single clutch of 4-5 round white eggs is typical.

A subspecies palawanensis has been described but the species is considered to be monotypic with no clear plumage differences across their range.

Distribution and habitat

The species is found mainly near the coast in mangrove forests and along estuaries and rivers. The distribution ranges from India (including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands where they occur even on remote islands like Narcondam), Sri Lanka, Kansu, Shansi, Korea, Malay Peninsula, Thailand, Burma, Ryu kyu Islands, Hainan, Philippines (Palawan, Balabac, Basilan, Tawi Tawi), Borneo, Sumatra east to Sulawesi where it occurs only in winter. Vagrants in winter have been recorded in Pakistan while movements related to rainfall may lead to their being found far inland and away from their usual distribution.

In culture

Like many other kingfishers, this species was much sought for the blue feathers for their use in the millinery trade. Feathers were used in making fans in China. In Hong Kong, their feathers were cut and glued over ornaments used by women.

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Videos of Black-capped kingfisher

  • Black-capped kingfisher

    Black-capped kingfisher

  • Black-capped kingfisher

    Black-capped kingfisher

  • Black-capped kingfisher - Thailand

    Black-capped kingfisher - Thailand

  • Black-capped kingfisher

    Black-capped kingfisher

Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Coraciiformes
Family
Alcedinidae
Genus
Halcyon
Species
Halcyon pileata

Common names

  • Thai: นกกะเต็นหัวดำ, nok kraten hua dam

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Halcyon pileata

Halcyon pileata

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Black-capped kingfisher

Black-capped kingfisher

Copyright 123RF,

Black-capped kingfisher

Black-capped kingfisher

Copyright iStockphoto,

Distribution map of Black-capped kingfisher, Halcyon pileata in Thailand
  • Amphawa District, Samut Songkhram
  • Ao Phang-Nga National Park
  • Ban Laem District, Phetchaburi
  • Ban Pho District, Chachoengsao
  • Bang Pa In District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Bang Pahan District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Bang Pakong District, Chachoengsao
  • Bang Phra Non-hunting Area
  • Bang Pu Recreation Centre
  • Bangkok Province
  • Bueng Boraped Non-hunting Area
  • Chaloem Phra Kiat District, Saraburi
  • Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Prachan National Park
  • Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai
  • Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai
  • Doi Inthanon National Park
  • Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park
  • Doi Suthep-Pui National Park
  • Erawan National Park
  • Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Hat Chao Mai National Park
  • Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park
  • Hat Wanakon National Park
  • Hat Yai District, Songkhla
  • Huai Chorakhe Mak Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Kamphaeng Saen District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Kantharawichai District, Maha Sarakham
  • Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Khiao - Khao Chomphu Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Lak - Lam Ru National Park
  • Khao Nam Khang National Park
  • Khao Nang Panthurat Forest Park
  • Khao Phra - Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
  • Khao Sok National Park
  • Khao Yai National Park
  • Khao Yoi District, Phetchaburi
  • Khlong Luang District, Pathum Thani
  • Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khon San District, Chaiyaphum
  • Khung Kraben Non-hunting Area
  • Khura Buri District, Phang Nga
  • Klaeng District, Rayong
  • Ko Samui District, Surat Thani
  • Ko Tao
  • Kui Buri National Park
  • Laem Ngop District, Trat
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Laem Son National Park
  • Mae Ai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Wong National Park
  • Mu Ko Chang National Park
  • Mu Ko Chumphon National Park
  • Mu Ko Lanta National Park
  • Mu Ko Similan National Park
  • Mu Ko Surin National Park
  • Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Chonburi District, Chonburi
  • Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi
  • Mueang Khon Kaen District, Khon Kaen
  • Mueang Krabi District, Krabi
  • Mueang Loei District, Loei
  • Mueang Nakhon Nayok District, Nakhon Nayok
  • Mueang Nakhon Pathom District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Mueang Nonthaburi District, Nonthaburi
  • Mueang Pattani District, Pattani
  • Mueang Phang Nga District, Phang Nga
  • Mueang Phetchaburi District, Phetchaburi
  • Mueang Phitsanulok District, Phitsanulok
  • Mueang Phuket District, Phuket
  • Mueang Ranong District, Ranong
  • Mueang Samut Sakhon District, Samut Sakhon
  • Mueang Samut Songkhram District, Samut Songkhram
  • Mueang Satun District, Satun
  • Mueang Sukhothai District, Sukhothai
  • Mueang Suphanburi District, Suphan Buri
  • Mueang Tak District, Tak
  • Mueang Trat District, Trat
  • Mueang Udon Thani District, Udon Thani
  • Nam Nao National Park
  • Namtok Sam Lan National Park
  • Nong Bong Khai Non-hunting Area
  • Nong Yai Area Development Project Under Royal Init
  • Pak Phli District, Nakhon Nayok
  • Pak Thale
  • Pathio District, Chumphon
  • Pha Daeng National Park
  • Phimai District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Phu Khiao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Phutthamonthon District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Pran Buri Forest Park
  • Sai Noi District, Nonthaburi
  • Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi
  • Sai Yok National Park
  • Salak Pra Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Salawin National Park
  • Samae San Island
  • Samut Prakan Province
  • San Sai District, Chiang Mai
  • Sanam Bin Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Sanam Chai Khet District, Chachoengsao
  • Sathing Phra District, Songkhla
  • Sawi District, Chumphon
  • Si Racha District, Chonburi
  • Si Satchanalai National Park
  • Sikao District, Trang
  • Sirinat National Park
  • Sop Prap District, Lampang
  • Sri Phang-nga National Park
  • Takua Pa District, Phang Nga
  • Taphan Hin District, Phichit
  • Tarutao National Marine Park
  • Tha Sala District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Tha Takiap District, Chachoengsao
  • Tha Yang District, Phetchaburi
  • Thai Mueang District, Phang Nga
  • Thalang District, Phuket
  • Thale Ban National Park
  • Thale Noi Non-hunting Area
  • Than Sadet - Koh Pha-Ngan National Park
  • Thanyaburi District, Pathum Thani
  • Thung Tako District, Chumphon
  • Ton Nga-Chang Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Wat Phai Lom & Wat Ampu Wararam Non-hunting Area

Range map of Halcyon pileata in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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