Shovelbilled kookaburra

Clytoceyx rex

SUBFAMILY

Halcyoninae

TAXONOMY

Clytoceyx rex Sharpe, 1880, East Cape, New Guinea. Two subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Shovel-billed kingfisher, emperor or crab-eating kingfisher; French: Martin-chasseur bec-en-cuillier; German: Froschschnabel; Spanish: Martin Cazador Picopala.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

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.

DISTRIBUTION

New Guinea.

HABITAT

Rainforest in lowlands, but especially on foothills up to 8,000 ft (2,400 m) above sea level.

BEHAVIOR

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.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

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.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

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.

CONSERVATION STATUS

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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