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Silvery Kingfisher Alcedo argentata

This species qualifies as Vulnerable because its population is suspected to be undergoing a rapid decline as a result of the loss and decline in quality of its forested lowland stream habitats.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Taxonomic note

Alcedo argentata and A. flumenicola (del Hoyo et al. 2013) were previously lumped as A. argentata following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).

14 cm. Tiny, black-and-white kingfisher. Blackish underparts, washed blue with white throat and belly. Black head and upperparts, white loral spot, spots on side of head forming streaky supercilium, neck blaze and median covert tips. Silvery-white rump and blaze on back. Bright red legs. Subspecies A. a. flumenicola smaller with purple-washed underparts and yellow throat, loral spot and neck blaze. Voice Thin, high-pitched seet.

Distribution and population
Alcedo argentata is endemic to the Philippines, where its two distinct populations occur on Samar, Leyte and Bohol (A. a. flumenicola), and Dinagat, Siargao, Mindanao and Basilan (A. a. argentata) (Collar et al. 1999). Formerly widespread and locally common, a comparison of pre-1970 and more recent records indicate a decline throughout its range. Since 1980, there have been documented observations from only c.10 sites confined to east Mindanao, Bohol and Leyte, although there are also recent sightings from the Zamboanga Peninsula, particularly within the Lituban-Quipit Watershed IBA. It is shy and inconspicuous and very likely under-recorded. Nevertheless, remaining areas of lowland forest with clear streams are very limited.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 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 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Forest loss in the Philippines has been rapid and comprehensive. Remaining tracts of lowland forest with clear streams suitable for this species are under severe pressure and as a result it is suspected to be declining rapidly.

It appears to be reliant upon forested streams below 1,000 m (with one record from 1,120-1,350 m). It will tolerate secondary and selectively logged forest and even streamside vegetation within coconut plantations, close to forest edge, but terminalia and sago are the principal forest types where the highest densities were recorded during mist-netting in 2002-2003 (J. Ibanez in litt. 2007). It breeds in riverside banks and is apparently sedentary.

Extensive lowland deforestation throughout its range is the chief threat. Only 4% forest cover is estimated to remain on Bohol. Most remaining lowland forest is leased to logging concessions or mining applications. Watercourses with high siltation loads, resulting from deforestation, appear not to hold the species, and riverine pollution is likely to have a similar impact. Tree-cutting, agricultural expansion, including pesticide (specifically Carbofuran) contamination from commercial growing of banana, and soil erosion are all threats to Rajah Sikatuna National Park (Bohol) and forest at Bislig (Mindanao) is being cleared under concession and re-planted with exotic trees for paper production. Both are key sites for the species. Conversion of terminalia forest into rice fields and oil palm plantation is driving habitat loss elsewhere.

Conservation Actions Underway
There are post-1990 records from two protected areas, Rajah Sikatuna National Park, Bohol and Agusan Marsh, Mindanao. There are pre-1980 records from two further protected areas, Siargao Island and Mt Apo Natural Park, Mindanao, and also northern Dinagat Island, which is a priority site for conservation funding. There were recent sightings at Lituban Quipit Watershed and there is a pending DENR proposal to have this IBA declared as a national protected area (J. Ibanez in litt. 2007). Meanwhile, 627,631 ha of lowland forest watersheds, which are likely habitats for the species, were declared through Presidential Proclamation as protected watersheds (J. Ibanez in litt. 2007). While populations in Pasonanca (10,560 ha; Zamboanga City) and Malagos Watersheds (235 ha, Davao City) are well protected by armed guards patrolling the watershed, doubts remain over how well these sites are managed and protected (J. Ibanez in litt. 2007). Current laws protecting riverine habitats are weak and require revision. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys to clarify its current distribution and population status. Investigate factors affecting river pollution and determine its dependency on high-quality watercourses. Establish further protected areas at other key lowland sites (e.g. Mt Cabalantian/Capoto-an on Samar, Mt Lobi on Leyte, and Mts Dapiak, Sugarloaf, Piapayungan, Diwata and Mayo on Mindanao). Encourage the legal and practical protection of riparian habitats.

Collar, N. J.; Mallari, N. A. D.; Tabaranza, B. R. J. 1999. Threatened birds of the Philippines: the Haribon Foundation/BirdLife International Red Data Book. Bookmark, Makati City.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Lowen, J., Peet, N., Taylor, J.

Ibanez, J.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Alcedo argentata. Downloaded from on 23/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/07/2014.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Silvery kingfisher (Alcedo argentata) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
Species name author Tweeddale, 1877
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 121,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species