Southern Silvery Kingfisher Ceyx argentatus


Justification of Red List Category
This recently-split species qualifies as Near Threatened because its population is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid decline as a result of the loss and decline in quality of its forested lowland stream habitats.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 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 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Forest loss in the Philippines has been rapid and comprehensive. Remaining tracts of lowland forest with clear streams suitable for this species are under severe pressure and as a result it is suspected to be declining moderately rapidly.

Distribution and population

Ceyx argentatus is endemic to the Philippines, where it occurs on Dinagat, Siargao, Mindanao and Basilan (Collar et al. 1999, Collar 2011). Formerly widespread and locally common, a comparison of pre-1970 and more recent records indicate a decline throughout its range. Since 1980, documented observations are confined to east Mindanao, although there are also recent sightings from the Zamboanga Peninsula, particularly within the Lituban-Quipit Watershed IBA. It is shy and inconspicuous and very likely under-recorded. Nevertheless, remaining areas of lowland forest with clear streams are limited.


It appears to be reliant upon forested streams and ponds (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2016). It occurs below 1,000 m (with one record from 1,120-1,350 m), and will tolerate secondary and selectively logged forest and even streamside vegetation within coconut plantations, close to forest edge, but terminalia and sago are the principal forest types where the highest densities were recorded during mist-netting in 2002-2003 (J. Ibanez in litt. 2007). It breeds in riverside banks and is apparently sedentary.


Extensive lowland deforestation throughout its range is the chief threat. Most remaining lowland forest is leased to logging concessions or mining applications. Watercourses with high siltation loads, resulting from deforestation, appear not to hold the species, and riverine pollution is likely to have a similar impact. Forest at Bislig (Mindanao) is being cleared under concession and re-planted with exotic trees for paper production. Conversion of terminalia forest into rice fields and oil palm plantation is driving habitat loss elsewhere.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
There are post-1990 records from Agusan Marsh protected area, Mindanao. There are pre-1980 records from two further protected areas, Siargao Island and Mt Apo Natural Park, Mindanao, and also northern Dinagat Island, which is a priority site for conservation funding. There were recent sightings at Lituban Quipit Watershed and there is a pending DENR proposal to have this IBA declared as a national protected area (J. Ibanez in litt. 2007). Meanwhile, 627,631 ha of lowland forest watersheds, which are likely habitats for the species, were declared through Presidential Proclamation as protected watersheds (J. Ibanez in litt. 2007). While populations in Pasonanca (10,560 ha; Zamboanga City) and Malagos Watersheds (235 ha, Davao City) are well protected by armed guards patrolling the watershed, doubts remain over how well these sites are managed and protected (J. Ibanez in litt. 2007). Current laws protecting riverine habitats are weak and require revision.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys to clarify its current distribution and population status. Investigate factors affecting river pollution and determine its dependency on high-quality watercourses. Establish further protected areas at other key lowland sites (e.g. Mts Dapiak, Sugarloaf, Piapayungan, Diwata and Mayo on Mindanao). Encourage the legal and practical protection of riparian habitats.


14 cm. Stunning small kingfisher that is largely black-and-white. Blackish underparts, washed blue with white throat and belly. Black head and upperparts, white loral spot, spots on side of head forming streaky supercilium, neck blaze and median covert tips. Silvery-white rump and blaze on back. Bright red legs. Similar spp.  A. flumenicola smaller with rich royal-blue lower breast and flanks and buff chin, throat, loral spot and neck blaze. Voice Thin, high-pitched seet.


Text account compilers
Peet, N., Benstead, P., Davidson, P., Lowen, J., Bird, J., Symes, A., Westrip, J., Taylor, J.

Ibanez, J., Allen, D., Hutchinson, R.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Ceyx argentatus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/10/2021.