Chattering Kingfisher Todiramphus tutus


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a small population, but is still considered widespread within its small range. It is feared that the population has been undergoing a decline, but uncertainty about whether declines in population size and in area and quality of habitat are ongoing led to its classification as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The population size of the Chattering Kingfisher has not been directly quantified. A population estimate can be derived based on density estimates of congener species including T. chloris, found at densities of 5.6 individuals per km2 in American Samoa (Engbring and Ramsey 1989) and 43 individuals per km2 in the Northern Mariana Islands (Craig 1996, and T. cinnamominus, found at densities of 8 individuals per km2 in Federated States of Micronesia (Engbring et al. 1990). Assuming that T. tutus occurs at similar densities and that 45% of its mapped range (450 km2) is occupied, the population numbers approximately 1,134-8,708 individuals, which equates to 756-5,805 mature individuals. Given that the species is described as widespread and common in Atiu and Mauke (Cook Islands), the actual population size is more likely to fall in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population of the Chattering Kingfisher is believed to be in decline. Whilst the species is still considered widespread and common on the islands of Atiu and Mauke (McCormack 2007, Woodall and Kirwan 2019), it is thought to be declining through much of its range, particularly in Bora Bora, where the species is now considered rare (Woodall and Kirwan 2019), and Raiatea, where numbers have decreased from the 450-550 territories estimated in 1973 as a result of coastal urbanisation (Thibault and Cibois 2017). The species is predominantly declining as a result of habitat destruction and fragmentation caused by increasing human populations although, clearance for agriculture, over-grazing by goats, competition with introduced Common Myna and predation by introduced cats and rats also have an impact (del Hoyo et al. 2001, Woodall and Kirwan 2019).

Distribution and population

The Chattering Kingfisher is found on seven islands throughout the South Pacific: Maupiti, Bora Bora, Tahaa, Raiatea and Huahine in French Polynesia and Atiu and Mauke in the Cook Islands (Woodall and Kirwan 2019). The species was previously believed to occur on Tahiti, but it has recently been confirmed that this is not the case (van der Vliet and Jansen 2015).


Chattering Kingfisher typically occurs in primary forest, particularly in highland stream valleys, secondary forest, old plantations, cultivated land with trees and gardens (Woodall and Kirwan 2019). The species has been further recorded in introduced mangrove on Huahine, understorey vegetation of coconut groves and in shrubs bordering open grassland (Thibault and Cibois 2017). It typically feeds on insects including grasshoppers, termites, stick-insects, cockroaches and moths, along with spiders, worms, shrimps and small freshwater fish and lizards. It typically forages throughout the middle and upper levels of trees but will also take prey from the air, canopy, trunk, branches, foliage, ground and shallow water (Woodall and Kirwan 2019). Little is known about the breeding of this species, although males are known to be in breeding condition on Atiu in September and the species is known to lay in December to January in the Society Islands (Woodall and Kirwan 2019).


The largest threat faced by the Chattering Kingfisher stems from habitat destruction and fragmentation caused by increasing human populations and urbanisation (Thibault and Cibois 2017, Woodall and Kirwan 2019). The species's habitat is however, also threatened by clearance for agriculture, over-grazing by goats, competition with introduced Common Myna and predation by introduced cats and rats also have an impact (del Hoyo et al. 2001, Woodall and Kirwan 2019).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway

No targeted conservation actions are known for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed

Monitor the population size and trend. Protect the species's habitat. Control and remove introduced species.


22cm. Both sexes of nominate race have a white forehead and supercilium, green-and-black mask, green-blue crown, back, wings and tail and a white collar and underparts. Its upper mandible is black, lower mandible pale yellow to ivory with dark cutting edges and tip. Iris is dark brown whilst its legs and feet are black. Subspecies atiu has a mainly white crown with green streaks and patch more limited to the central portion. Subspecies mauke has forehead, collar, side of breast and other white parts washed buffy. The juvenile has an even stronger orange-buff suffusion to white parts and to fringes of wing-coverts (Woodall and Kirwan 2019).


Text account compilers
Everest, J., Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S.

Cibois, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Todiramphus tutus. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/chattering-kingfisher-todiramphus-tutus on 07/06/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 07/06/2023.