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Bismarck Kingfisher Ceyx websteri
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is judged to be Vulnerable on the basis of an estimated small population which is likely to be declining through habitat loss and degradation. However, researching its population size, tolerance of habitat changes and dispersal between subpopulations may lead to reclassification.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Ceyx websteri (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Alcedo.

Alcedo websteri (Hartert, 1898)

22 cm. Medium-sized, river kingfisher. Greenish-blue upperparts, extending as slight partial collar onto pale buffy underparts. Black bare parts. Similar spp. Three similar but smaller species: Common Kingfisher A. atthis is greener above, more orange below and lacks the slight collar, Variable Kingfisher Ceyx lepidus is more purple above, brighter orange below and often with red on the bill, Little Kingfisher C. pusillus is purple-blue above and very small. Voice Louder, stronger and less sibilant than A. atthis. Hints Search medium-sized rainforest streams. Perhaps more common on small islands.

Distribution and population
Alcedo websteri is endemic to New Britain, New Ireland and the nearby islands of Umboi, New Hanover and Lihir in Papua New Guinea. There are few records of this species, all of single birds or a pair, but it was recorded on all five islands in 1997 (G. Dutson pers. obs. 1997-1998). There is also one sight record from Feni (I. Burrows in litt. 1999). It appears to occur along most suitable rivers, but many rivers are too fast or too large on these mountainous islands.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature 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 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Buchanan et al. (2008) calculated the rate of forest loss within the species's range on New Britain as 25% over three generations; however, the authors also noted that owing to indirect effects from logging (e.g. siltation) the rate of decline is probably higher than this, thus a rapid and on-going decline is estimated.

This kingfisher inhabits small relatively slow-flowing rivers in lowland forest, sometimes in patchy degraded forest and logged forest (K. D. Bishop in litt. 1994, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1997-1998, J. Pilgrim in litt. 1999, Dutson 2011). It has been recorded down to sea-level but its upper altitudinal limit may be only a few hundred metres (Gilliard and LeCroy 1967). It appears to be replaced by Common Kingfisher A. atthis along large sluggish rivers, mangroves and most lakes and is replaced by Variable Kingfisher Ceyx lepidus along smaller streams (Dutson 2011). It may occur beside forest-fringed lakes - there is one such record from Lake Hargy (Clay 1994), but no records from lakes with marshy or reedbed margins.

Its dependence on extreme lowland forest renders it susceptible to habitat changes from the extensive logging and forest clearance across its range. Large areas of New Britain have been, or are scheduled to be, clear-felled for oil-palm plantations, 25% of suitable habitat has been cleared there in the last 12 years (Buchanan et al. 2008). Although it has been recorded from degraded habitats, it is likely to be affected by sediment run-off from logged and cleared areas into rivers.

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct line-transects along rivers of varying size, water velocity, water turbidity, altitude and surrounding habitat. Survey all lowland lakes on New Britain. Investigate ecological separation from A. atthis. Map remaining forest and logging concessions across the Bismarcks. Lobby for a moratorium on forest clearance for oil-palm plantations. Enforce regulations protecting river courses in logging concessions. Encourage designation of large community-based conservation areas. Encourage creation of community-run sustainable logging rather than commercial logging.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Buchanan, G.M., Butchart, S.H.M., Dutson, G., Pilgrim, J.D., Steininger, M.K., Bishop, K.D. and Mayaux, P. 2008. Using remote sensing to inform conservation status assessment: estimates of recent deforestation rates on New Britain and the impacts on endemic birds. Biological Conservation 141(1): 56-66.

Clay, J. 1994. Nakanai '93: an Oxford University Expedition to New Britain Island, Papua New Guinea.

Dutson, G. 2011. Birds of Melanesia: Bismarcks, Solomons, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Christopher Helm, London.

Gilliard, E. T.; LeCroy, M. 1967. Results of the 1958-1959 Gilliard New Britain expedition, 4: Annotated list of birds of the Whiteman Mountains, New Britain. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 135: 173-216.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Stattersfield, A.

Bishop, K., Burrows, I., Dutson, G., Pilgrim, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Ceyx websteri. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
Species name author (Hartert, 1898)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 27,400 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species