Mangaia Kingfisher Todiramphus ruficollaris


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it has a small population and is confined to just one island, where, although it is subject to a variety of threats, its population appears to be stable. If any decline is suspected, Critically Endangered status may be warranted.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 400-700 individuals, roughly equating to 270-470 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Recent surveys found it to be surprisingly common in disturbed areas, therefore the population is suspected to be stable.

Distribution and population

Todiramphus ruficollaris is endemic to Mangaia, Cook Islands, where in the early 1980s it was reported to be declining (McCormack 1997). In 1992-1993, the population was estimated at 250-450 birds, with c.50% concentrated in the north-west and an important population in the east (Rowe and Empson 1996a). In 1996, the population was estimated at 400-700 birds using a different method (Baker et al. 1996). In 1997, numbers appeared to be broadly similar (Kelly and Bottomley 1998), consequently, the population was assumed to be stable; surveys conducted since, though not directly comparable, indicate that this is still true.


It inhabits forest growing on the makatea (an encircling, raised coral limestone platform), preferring continuous forest canopy, and is found in highest densities in relatively unaltered tracts, although it also occurs in mature secondary forest and forest patches (Rowe and Empson 1996a). It feeds on insects, grubs, cockroaches and spiders, with lizards forming an important part of the diet (Pratt et al. 1987, Rowe and Empson 1996b). It nests in tree-cavities (preferring coconut and barringtonia Barringtonia asiatica). The clutch-size is 2-3 (Pratt et al. 1987, Rowe and Empson 1996b).


The introduced Common Myna Acridotheres tristis (numbering c.9,000 birds), found in villages, horticultural areas, secondary forest and small forest tracts, competes for food and harasses breeding birds causing nest failure (Rowe and Empson 1996a, G. McCormack in litt. 2007). However the kingfisher is unexpectedly common in disturbed habitat where the Myna is abundant (G. McCormack in litt. 2007). In a recent study of 10 kingfisher nests in disturbed forest, 11 young were raised from seven nests; Mynas were the cause of failure in one nest and were thought responsible for the failure of the other two (G. McCormack in litt. 2007). Cats and rats, both Pacific rat Rattus exulans and black rat R. rattus, are present in all forest-types (particularly prevalent in areas with a high abundance of coconut trees) and are potential predators (Baker et al. 1996, Rowe and Empson 1996a). Long-tailed Cuckoo Eudynamis taitensis, a winter migrant from New Zealand, may also predate eggs and chicks (Rowe and Empson 1996a). Clearance for agriculture and browsing by goats cause habitat loss and forest fragmentation, whilst pigs affect forest regeneration (Rowe and Empson 1996a). Human disturbance may have an impact on birds in the south-west (Rowe and Empson 1996a).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
In 1996, a baseline survey and vegetation and rat-trapping studies were conducted. In 1997, this was followed by the first simple census using the Distance Sampling method, and it is hoped that this method will be adopted by a local annual monitoring programme (Kelly and Bottomley 1998). The feasibility of the eradication of Common Myna from the island was assessed in 2006, it was concluded that it was possible, at a cost of NZ$100,000 (Parkes 2006). A detailed study of nesting success in an area where mynas were abundant was started in 2006 (G. McCormack in litt. 2007). Aage V Jensen Charity Foundation of Denmark  is supporting BirdLife Cook Island’s partner Te-Ipukarea-Society in creating a site support group for the island,  establishing a community led management plan and to raise awareness of this species among the community, including the creation of a documentary to be aired on national TV (Te-Ipukarea-Society 2016).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further research to determine population trends in the different areas of the island and requirements for long-term survival (Rowe and Empson 1996a). Conduct a detailed study of nesting success (Rowe and Empson 1996b). Monitor the population by surveying birds in secondary forest (due to its accessibility) (Baker et al. 1996). Provide nest-sites in appropriate places (SPREP 1999). Encourage habitat preservation and augment habitat (SPREP 1999). Eradicate A. tristis (SPREP 1999, Parkes 2006). Consider controlling cats and rats Rattus spp. Make this species an emblem for conservation on Mangaia to engender pride in the species, help prevent deforestation and reduce disturbance of birds and their habitat by people, goats and pigs.


19 cm. Chunky kingfisher with big bill. Greenish-blue crown, cheeks, and upperparts, bluest on wings and tail. Rest of plumage pale. Eyebrow and collar strongly tinged rufous or ochre. Voice Series of alternating short and long mewing notes.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Derhé, M., Harding, M., Mahood, S., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A., North, A.

Pilgrim, J., McCormack, G., Karika, I.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Todiramphus ruficollaris. Downloaded from on 22/01/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/01/2021.