Clytoceyx rex Sharpe, 1880, East Cape, New Guinea. Two subspecies.
English: Shovel-billed kingfisher, emperor or crab-eating kingfisher; French: Martin-chasseur bec-en-cuillier; German: Froschschnabel; Spanish: Martin Cazador Picopala.
12-13 in (30-34 cm), 8.6-11.5 oz (245-325 g). Large kingfisher with dark brown above with blue rump, reddish below; tail is blue (male) or reddish (female). Unique broad, deep stubby bill, with dark brown above, pale horn below.
Rainforest in lowlands, but especially on foothills up to 8,000 ft (2,400 m) above sea level.
Calls at dawn from tree top, three to four long liquid notes each accompanied by tail flicking. Often perches low above forest floor, on the lookout for prey. Bill and breast often are caked with mud.
Feeds on forest floor, picking up prey or ploughing through soil to a depth of 3 in (8 cm), often at the base of tree or bush. Pulls out earthworms, insects, and small reptiles. Crab eating is unconfirmed. Forages at night, maybe predominately.
Almost unknown. Adults are in breeding condition in January. A chick on sale at a market was said to be one of two taken from a tree hole.
Not threatened, but poorly known. Does use forest edge and large gardens.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
None known. Some nest-robbing for markets; are attractive to bird-watching tourists. ♦
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