Wild Birds

Vanuatu Kingfishers

The Chestnut-bellied Kingfishers (Todiramphus farquhari; also called Vanuatu Kingfishers) is a medium-sized kingfisher found only on the islands of Espiritu Santo, Malo and Malakula in Vanuatu.

It is also sometimes referred to as the Grey-headed Kingfisher, which can cause confusion with the Halcyon leucocephala of Africa.

Vanuatu KingfisherTodiramphus farquhari

The birds mainly inhabit dense rainforest in the interior of the islands, particularly above 200m. They are thought to be declining due to the loss and degradation of the forest.


It is dark blue above with richly-colored orange underparts. There is a white spot in front of the eye and a broad black band on the side of the head. It has a white throat and collar.

It measures 19-21cm in length and weighs 32-42 grams.

The only other kingfisher in Vanuatu is the Collared Kingfisher which has paler blue-green upperparts, whiter underparts, and a buff stripe above the eye.

Calls / Vocalizations

The call is a series of loud, shrill, piping notes.

Diet / Feeding

The Chestnut-bellied Kingfisher mainly eats insects, especially beetles, and will also take spiders and small lizards. It usually hunts by perching on a branch and waiting for prey to appear. When it spots something it flies into the air or dives down to the ground or a tree trunk to catch it.

Nesting / Breeding

The nest is sometimes built in a hole in a palm tree or tree fern but usually, a pair will excavate a burrow in a termite mound in a tree. They dig with their large bill and clear out material with their feet. After about fifteen days the burrow is completed and the termites seal off their sections. Three or four white eggs are laid.

The breeding season is mostly from November to February with eggs laid in December.


  • BirdLife International (2004). Todiramphus farquhari. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 10 September 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is vulnerable
  • Heinrich L. Bregulla (1992) Birds of Vanuatu, Anthony Nelson, Oswestry, England
  • C Hilary Fry, Kathie Fry and Alan Harris (1992) Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and Rollers, Christopher Helm (Publishers) Ltd., London

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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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