Sombre Kingfisher Todiramphus funebris


Justification of Red List Category
This forest kingfisher is considered Vulnerable because its small population is undergoing a decline as a result of increasing habitat loss and degradation.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Since the early 1990s when Halmahera remained largely forested, forest clearance has accelerated dramatically and it is suspected to have precipitated a population decline. The precise rate of forest loss and the inferred rate of population decline are not known.

Distribution and population

Todiramphus funebris is endemic to the island of Halmahera, North Maluku, Indonesia, where it is generally uncommon and local, with extremely few site-specific records (BirdLife International 2001). During recent censuses on the north-east peninsula of the island, the encounter rate was too low to allow an extrapolation of population size.


It is resident in closed-canopy primary forest (where it perches in shady locations in the lower canopy and middle storey), often overlooking clearings, swamp-forest dominated by sago palms with few tall trees, tall secondary woodland, mangroves and forest edge, from the lowlands up to 620 m (but most frequently below 300 m). It also visits cultivated habitats (including coconut-groves and plantations).


The species is threatened by habitat loss. Since the early 1990s (when it was reported that c.90% of the total area of Halmahera remained forested), clearance and fragmentation of forest has accelerated dramatically. Exploitation of economically valuable trees is now widespread and intensive, with most remaining forest under timber concession. In addition, habitat is under pressure from increased settlement and transmigration, conversion to agriculture, plantations, irrigation schemes, fuelwood-collection and mineral extraction. Given the predilection of this species for low elevations, these threats are particularly alarming.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
This species has been nominally protected under Indonesian law since 1931. A large national park that has been established on Halmahera, encompassing 3,550 km2 of all representative forest-types on the island, between Lalobata and Ake Tajawe, is very likely to support a population of the species (M. Poulsen in litt. 2007). Gunung Gamkonora (from whence old records derive) has been recommended for wildlife sanctuary or recreation forest status.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys for the species to clarify its current distribution, status and ecological requirements (particularly to clarify the importance of intact forest). Determine and implement appropriate conservation actions, including the establishment of key sites as strict protected areas. Initiate conservation awareness programmes to elicit support for reduced forest clearance.


28 cm. Distinctive, piebald kingfisher. Stout, blackish bill. Blackish crown and ear-coverts, separated by long white stripe from bill to nape. White underparts and collar, with black patch on breast-sides. Rest of upperparts blackish to olive-green in male, olive-brown in female. Similar spp. Blue-and-white Kingfisher T. diops is smaller, bluer above, lacks white supercilium and has white spot on lores. Sacred Kingfisher T. sancta is less dark above, lacks white supercilium and has smaller bill. Voice Slow ki-ki-ki, or three loud, descending wails and slurred, nasal disyllables.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Taylor, J., Tobias, J.

Poulsen, M.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Todiramphus funebris. Downloaded from on 30/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 30/06/2022.