Marquesas Kingfisher Todiramphus godeffroyi


Justification of Red List category
This species is listed as Critically Endangered as, following its extinction on Hiva Oa, it is now found on only a single small island on which it is suspected to be declining owing to habitat deterioration and predation.

Population justification
Ghestemme and Timau (2014) estimated the population to be approximately 350 mature individuals.

Trend justification
This species is suspected to have undergone a continuing decline on Tahuata during the past three generations (14 years) owing to the effects of habitat degradation, human activities and introduced predators, and it has become extinct on Hiva Oa owing to predation by introduced Bubo virginianus.

Distribution and population

Todiramphus godeffroyi is endemic to the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, where there were 300-500 pairs on Tahuata in 1975 (Holyoak and Thibault 1984), 695 birds in 2003 (Gouni 2004) and 401-484 birds in 2011 (Withers et al. 2012). It formerly occurred on Hiva Oa, where there were fewer than 50 pairs in 1971 and 1973; it was exceedingly rare on the island in 1990 (Seitre and Seitre 1991) and was last seen in February 1997 in the Atuona Valley. Searches in 2001, 2004 and 2006 failed to find the species and it is considered extinct on the island (J.-C. Thibault in litt. 2000, Gouni 2004, P. Raust in litt. 2007, T. Ghestemme in litt. 2009). Records from Fatu Hiva, Mohotani and Ua Pou are apparently erroneous (Holyoak and Thibault 1984, Thibault 1988).


It prefers dense, humid forest along the courses of mountain streams and remote valleys from low to mid altitude, but has also been seen in coconut plantations, on dry slopes covered with mango and Eugenia cuminii trees, and on peaks covered with groves of Casuarina. It has been found nesting in an old mango tree, in a decayed screw-pine trunk, in Pandanus spp., dead Cocos nucifera trunks and Ficus spp. (Withers et al. 2012). It feeds principally on insects and lizards (Holyoak and Thibault 1984, Fry et al. 1992, Nitchen and Knowles 1995, Gouni and Zysman 2007).


Extensive damage has been caused to upland forest by feral cattle, horses, goats, sheep and pigs (WWF/IUCN 1994-1995), and this may be causing the continuing decline on Tahuata (Gouni and Zysman 2007). It is thought to have been heavily predated by the introduced Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus on Hiva Oa, and other alien species such as Common Myna Acridotheres tristis and perhaps Black Rat Rattus rattus (introduced c.1915 on Hiva Oa and still present on Tahuata in 2011 [Withers et al. 2012]) may have contributed to the decline (Gouni and Zysman 2007). On Tahuata, Black Rats, Polynesian Rats Rattus exulans and feral cats are known to be present (Autai et al. 2012). The natural colonization or introduction of B. virginianus to Tahuata would be disastrous for this species. However no B. virginianus were detected on Tahuata during the 2011 and 2013-2014 studies, but further investigation is still needed to confirm their absence (Withers et al. 2012, Ghestemme and Timau 2014). Mynas are currently absent on the island and local inhabitants are aware of the risk of their introduction to Tahuata island (Withers et al. 2012).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway

Surveys of the species and its threats on Tahuata were conducted in 2003 (Gouni 2004), 2011 (Withers et al. 2012), and 2013-2014 (Ghestemme and Timau 2014) investigating the distribution, species's behaviour and nesting and territory requirements. Public awareness-raising was implemented with positive results, as inhabitants were previously unaware of the species's endemic status.

Conservation Actions Proposed

Regularly resurvey the species to determine trends. Investigate threats, including feral cat impact and species distribution knowledge. Work with local stakeholders to protect remaining forest and retain dead trees in plantations, especially in coconut plantations. Take all measures possible to ensure that B. virginianus does not colonise Tahutua. Exclude livestock from the remaining intact forest. Consider the possibility of translocation to a nearby island. Produce a Species Recovery Plan and develop captive breeding populations.


22 cm. Distinctive kingfisher with buff triangle on upper back. Totally white crown, forehead, mantle and centre of upper back. Blue eye-stripe ending as broken line behind head. White underparts. Blue-green lower back, rump, tail and wings. Voice Soft treet-tee-tee and loud, harsh alarm call.


Text account compilers
Symes, A., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A., Mahood, S., Derhé, M., Ashpole, J, North, A., O'Brien, A.

Ghestemme, T., Gouni, A., Raust, P. & Thibault, J.-C.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Todiramphus godeffroyi. Downloaded from on 24/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/09/2023.