The collared kingsher (Todiramphus chloris) is
a widespread species occurring from Ethiopia,
Oman and India through South-east Asia, northern
Australia to the Pacic with 49 subspecies currently
recognised (Woodall 2001). Fry et al. (1992) and
Woodall (2001) note that, where the collared
kingsher overlaps with other halcyon kingsher
species, it is primarily a bird of coastal and mangrove
areas but can range inland in places where it is the
only kingsher species. However, Dutson (2011)
notes it occurs alongside other tree kingshers in
inland parts of the Solomon Is.
In Fiji, the collared kingsher (locally known
as the white-collared kingsher) is the only
kingsher species, and it occurs in both coastal and
inland environments (Watling 2001). The 3 Fijian
subspecies, including T. c. vitensis on Viti Levu, are
sometimes placed within the sacred kingsher (T.
sanctus) group (Pra et al. 1987; Woodall 2001).
According to the major texts on Fiji’s birds,
sh are considered to form only a small part of
the collared kingsher’s diet, and it appears that
when sh are taken, this is only in mangroves and
beachpools. For instance, Watling (2001, p. 137) states
the collared kingsher feeds “predominantly on
large insects such as grasshoppers and crickets, also
lizards, young birds and crabs” and that “sh are
only very occasionally taken - from mangroves and
reef pools”. Ryan (2000) found collared kingshers to
feed primarily on insects, while Belcher and Sibson
(1972, p. 20) state that “sh form but a small part of
its diet which normally includes large insects, crabs,
skinks and geckos and sometimes even small birds”
and suggest the kingsher “should more correctly
be termed ‘kinghunter’, as it is rarely observed
to dive into streams or pools”. Similarly, Clunie
(2007, p. 68) lists insects, worms, crabs, lizards, and
bird’s eggs and nestlings as the diet for the collared
kingsher in Fiji, although notes the species also
“dives for sh and prawns”. Mercer (1966) lists
lizards and grasshoppers as favoured prey but
notes small crabs and nestlings also are taken.
On Tonga, Steadman and Freifeld (1998) suggest
the collared kingsher feeds primarily on large
insects and small lizards, although occasionally
small sh are caught on the reef at low tide. The
reported lack of sh in the diet of kingshers in
Notornis, 2011, Vol. 58: 163-164
0029-4470 © The Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Inc.
Received 27 Sep 2011; accepted 9 Nov 2011
Fiji’s collared kingshers (Todiramphus chloris vitensis) do hunt for
sh in inland waters
JAMES A. FITZSIMONS*
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood VIC 3125,
Australia; The Nature Conservancy, Suite 3-04, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia
JANELLE L. THOMAS
Birds Australia, Suite 2-05, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia
inland habitats appears to reect the published
literature for the species elsewhere in its wide
distribution. For example, Fry et al. (1992, and
repeated in Woodall 2001) states that mangrove
and coastal populations of collared kingshers take
mainly small crabs, shrimps, mudskippers and other
small sh, but inland, the species feeds on cicadas,
beetles, carpenter bees, wasps, grasshoppers,
earthworms, snails, land crabs, spiders, frogs and
snakes, and less commonly, mice, and the eggs
and nestlings of small birds. A total of 54 prey
items identied in a collared kingsher in Vanuatu
comprised equal numbers of skinks, locusts and
beach-pool sh, 8 bueries and other insects and a
crab (Fry et al. 1992).
On each day of 1-5 Jun 2011, we observed 2
collared kingshers actively shing daily in an
inland fresh water-body in Fiji. The site was a 50 m
deep freshwater lake formed from a former quarry
at the Raintree Lodge, Colo-i-Suva (18° 02’ 10” S,
178° 27’ 57” E) on the island of Viti Levu. The lake
is 240 m a.s.l., ~8.5 km from the nearest coast, and
is fringed by rainforest (eectively adjoining the
Colo-i-Suva Forest Park). On 2 Jun, between 1450-
1515 h we observed the 2 kingshers make 11
aempts to catch sh of which 6 were successful.
The prey captured on each occasion was a small
tilapia (Orechromis sp.), with most about the size of
the bird’s bill (i.e., ~5 cm). The lake was well stocked
with this sh.
On 3 occasions, the sh was struck on the branch
between 9-11 times and then consumed. On 2 of
these occasions the sh appeared to be swallowed
but was then regurgitated where it was struck a few
more times. Tail fanning and icking, and forward
and backward movement of the head were observed
while the birds were watching for prey, but also
while beating and consuming sh.
Over the 5 days, 2 dierent foraging behaviours
were observed. The 1st involved perching on a
branch overhanging the water ~4 m high and
diving at sh within a few metres of the branch.
The 2nd foraging behaviour involved ying from
the lake edge out to ~20 m, diving, and then ying
back. When successful, sh were taken from the
surface of the water with the bill and sometimes
head submerged, but diving below the water was
not observed. The foraging methods observed were
consistent with what has been previously reported
for the species shing in coastal environments; for
example, Woodall (2001) reports most prey taken
within 30 m of perch sites in Peninsular Malaysia.
Although Watling (2001, p. 137) suggests that the
collared kingsher “is often mobbed by small birds
but pays lile aention to them”, we observed a
Vanikoro ycatcher (Myiagra vanikorensis) harassing
and displacing a kingsher from its vantage perch
while searching for prey.
The observations described provide new
information on diet and foraging strategies of the
collared kingsher. According to the literature, sh
do not appear to be recorded in the diet of collared
kingshers occupying inland habitats. Further,
where shing does occur in coastal environments
it is within shallow waters (e.g., reef pools); the
freshwater environment in our observations was a
deep lake in a disused quarry. The birds at Colo-
i-Suva were observed consistently hunting on the
lake with sh being the only observed target on all
days during our visit. This suggests that at least
some collared kingshers feed on sh in inland
waters in the Pacic region.
Thanks to Dick Watling, Guy Dutson, and an anonymous
referee for comments on a draft.
Belcher, W.J.; Sibson, R.B. 1972. Birds of Fiji in colour.
Auckland: William Collins.
Clunie, F. 2007. Birds of the Fiji bush. Third edition. Suva:
Dutson, G. 2011. Birds of Melanesia: Bismarks, Solomons,
Vanuatu and New Caledonia. London: A & C Black.
Fry, C.H.; Fry, K.; Harris, A. 1992. Kingshers, bee-eaters and
rollers. London: Christopher Helm.
Mercer, R. 1966. A eld guide to Fiji birds. Fiji Museum
Special Publication Series No. 1. Suva: Fiji Museum.
Pra, H.; Bruner, P.; Berre, D. 1987. The birds of Hawaii
and the Tropical Pacic. Princeton: Princeton University
Ryan, P. 2000. Fiji’s natural heritage. Auckland: Exisle
Steadman, D.W.; Freifeld, H.B. 1998. Distribution, relative
abundance, and habitat relationships of landbirds in
the Vava’u Group, Kingdom of Tonga. Condor 100:
Watling, D. 2001. A guide to the birds of Fiji and Western
Polynesia including American Samoa, Niue, Samoa,
Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Wallis & Futuna. Suva:
Environmental Consultants (Fiji).
Woodall, P. 2001. Family Alcedinidae (Kingshers).
pp. 103–187 In: del Hoyo, J.; Ellio, A.; Sargatal, J. (eds)
Handbook of the birds of the world. Volume 6, mousebirds
to hornbills. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
Keywords collared kingsher; Fiji; sh; inland waters;