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The White-collared Kingfisher (scientific name: Todirhamphus chloris) is one of eight documented species of kingfishers in Singapore. This blue-and-white bird is commonly spotted in mangrove and coastal areas, gardens and parks. It was featured on the S$10 notes of the "Bird Series" currency notes issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore between 1976 and 1984. It was also one of the wetland wildlife featured on a 2000 currency sheet with four values.
The White-collared Kingfisher is distinguished by its aquamarine-blue upper parts and head, black bill, thick white collar and entirely white underparts. It is a medium-sized kingfisher, measuring about 24cm in length. Both sexes are alike, although the female is more greenish in colour when seen in comparison with the male. Juveniles are similar to adults but are greener on the upper parts and buff on the underparts.
This kingfisher has several calls and 6-7 types have been recorded, one of which is a distinctive and harsh-sounding "krek krek krek". It occurs singly or in pairs and can remain inactive on a perch for long periods of time with little movement. Its flight is swift and direct.
This species was previously named Halcyon chloris but was renamed Todirhamphus chloris after DNA studies placed it in the genus Todirhamphus.
White-collared Kingfishers have been recorded to nest over the first half of the year, for a period starting from December. Their nests are short burrows excavated from arboreal termite mounds or along the roots of ferns growing on trees, or dug by the banks of rivers. They also nest in existing holes in living or dead trees such as palms or bore their own holes. Two to four glossy, plain white eggs are laid.
This species is known to exhibit aggressive behaviour during nesting, attacking other birds and even other animals within its breeding territory.
It feeds on fish, crabs and other crustaceans near coastal areas. Farther inland, its diet comprises lizards, small snakes, frogs, earthworms and insects such as beetles, bees and grasshoppers. Inland, it usually hunts from a perch such as a fence, wire or low tree branch over an open space. It may beat its prey against a branch using its strong bill if the animal is large. At the coast, it can be seen perching on large boulders or any suitable platform and then diving to pick up exposed animals on the seashore. It has also been observed to search for prey on the seashore during low tide.
Distribution and Habitat
The White-collared Kingfisher is widely distributed geographically, over a distance of 16,000 km from east Africa on the coast of the Red Sea to the Middle East, across the Indian subcontinent and through Southeast Asia, and southwards to Papua New Guinea, northern Australia and the Samoan islands. There are over 50 subspecies over this range, with the subspecies humii being extant in Southeast Asia.
In Singapore, the White-collared Kingfisher ranks as the most common kingfisher sighted. This may partly be due to its bold and noisy behaviour, and it often makes its presence known with its raucous calls. Its main habitats are mangrove and coastal areas, and it is very common on offshore islands. It is also frequently seen and heard in parks and gardens, calling from its perch on a rooftop or a telephone wire.
English: Collared Kingfisher
Malay: Pekaka, Burong Raja Udang
Pekaka is derived from its call, while Burong Raja Udang can be translated as "Ruler of Prawns".
Bucknill, J. A. S. (1990). Birds of Singapore and South-east Asia. Singapore: G. Brash.
(Call no.: RSING 598.295957 BUC)
Fry, C. H. (c1992). Kingfishers, bee-eaters & rollers: A handbook. London: Christopher Helm.
(Call no.: R 598.892 FRY)
Hails, C. J. (c1987). Birds of Singapore. Singapore: Times Editions.
(Call no.: RSING 598.295957 HAI)
Lim, K. S. (1999). Official birds checklist of the Republic of Singapore. Retrieved January 19, 2006, from http://www.nss.org.sg/wildbirdsingapore/
Madoc, G. C. . An introduction to Malayan birds. [Kuala Lumpur: Malayan Nature].
(Call no.: RCLOS 598.29595 MAD -[GBH])
Nesting habits of the White-collared Kingfisher (Halcyon chloris humii Sharpe). (1931). Bulletin of the Raffles Museum Singapore, Straits Settlements, 5, 121.
(Call no.: RCLOS 571.09595 RMSB)
Smythies, B. E. (1981). The birds of Borneo. Kota Kinabalu, Sabah; Kuala Lumpur: Sabah Society; Malayan Nature Society.
(Call no.: RSEA 598.295983 SMY)
The William Farquhar collection of natural history drawings. (1999). Singapore: Goh Geok Khim.
(Call no.: RSING 759.959 WIL)
Tweedie, M. W. F. . Common birds of the Malay Peninsula. Kuala Lumpur: Longman Malaysia.
(Call no.: RSEA 598.29595 TWE)
Wells, D. R. (c1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Covering Burma and Thailand south of the eleventh parallel, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore: Vol. 1, Non-passerines. San Diego, California: Academic Press.
(Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL)
The information in this article is valid as at 2006 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.