email a friend
printable version
Mangaia Kingfisher Todiramphus ruficollaris

This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it has a small population and is confined to just one island, where, although it is subject to a variety of threats, its population appears to be stable. If any decline is suspected, Critically Endangered status may be warranted.

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

Halcyon ruficollaris Collar and Andrew (1988), Halcyon ruficollaris ruficollaris Collar and Andrew (1988), Todirhamphus ruficollaris Collar et al. (1994), Todirhamphus ruficollaris Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Todirhamphus ruficollaris ruficollaris Collar et al. (1994), Todirhamphus ruficollaris ruficollaris Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)

19 cm. Chunky kingfisher with big bill. Greenish-blue crown, cheeks, and upperparts, bluest on wings and tail. Rest of plumage pale. Eyebrow and collar strongly tinged rufous or ochre. Voice Series of alternating short and long "mewing" notes.

Distribution and population
Todiramphus ruficollaris is endemic to Mangaia, Cook Islands, where in the early 1980s it was reported to be declining (McCormack 1997). In 1992-1993, the population was estimated at 250-450 birds, with c.50% concentrated in the north-west and an important population in the east (Rowe and Empson 1996a). In 1996, the population was estimated at 400-700 birds using a different method (Baker et al. 1996). In 1997, numbers appeared to be broadly similar (Kelly and Bottomley 1998), consequently, the population was assumed to be stable; surveys conducted since, though not directly comparable, indicate that this is still true.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 400-700 individuals, roughly equating to 270-470 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Recent surveys found it to be surprisingly common in disturbed areas, therefore the population is suspected to be stable.

It inhabits forest growing on the makatea (an encircling, raised coral limestone platform), preferring continuous forest canopy, and is found in highest densities in relatively unaltered tracts, although it also occurs in mature secondary forest and forest patches (Rowe and Empson 1996a). It feeds on insects, grubs, cockroaches and spiders, with lizards forming an important part of the diet (Pratt et al. 1987, Rowe and Empson 1996b). It nests in tree-cavities (preferring coconut and barringtonia Barringtonia asiatica). The clutch-size is 2-3 (Pratt et al. 1987, Rowe and Empson 1996b).

The introduced Common Myna Acridotheres tristis (numbering c.9,000 birds), found in villages, horticultural areas, secondary forest and small forest tracts, competes for food and harasses breeding birds causing nest failure (Rowe and Empson 1996a, G. McCormack in litt. 2007). However the kingfisher is unexpectedly common in disturbed habitat where the Myna is abundant (G. McCormack in litt. 2007). In a recent study of 10 kingfisher nests in disturbed forest 11 young were raised from seven nests; Mynas were the cause of failure in one nest and were thought responsible for the failure of the other two (G. McCormack in litt. 2007). Cats and rats, both Pacific rat Rattus exulans and black rat R. rattus, are present in all forest-types (particularly prevalent in areas with a high abundance of coconut trees) and are potential predators (Baker et al. 1996, Rowe and Empson 1996a). Long-tailed Cuckoo Eudynamis taitensis, a winter migrant from New Zealand, may also predate eggs and chicks (Rowe and Empson 1996a). Clearance for agriculture and browsing by goats cause habitat loss and forest fragmentation, whilst pigs affect forest regeneration (Rowe and Empson 1996a). Human disturbance may have an impact on birds in the south-west (Rowe and Empson 1996a).

Conservation Actions Underway
In 1996, a baseline survey and vegetation and rat-trapping studies were conducted. In 1997, this was followed by the first simple census using the Distance Sampling method, and it is hoped that this method will be adopted by a local annual monitoring programme (Kelly and Bottomley 1998). The feasibility of the eradication of Common Myna from the island was assessed in 2006, it was concluded that it was possible, at a cost of NZ$100,000 (Parkes 2006). A detailed study of nesting success in an area where mynas were abundant was started in 2006 (G. McCormack in litt. 2007). Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further research to determine population trends in the different areas of the island and requirements for long-term survival (Rowe and Empson 1996a). Conduct a detailed study of nesting success (Rowe and Empson 1996b). Monitor the population by surveying birds in secondary forest (due to its accessibility) (Baker et al. 1996). Provide nest-sites in appropriate places (SPREP 1999). Encourage habitat preservation and augment habitat (SPREP 1999). Eradicate A. tristis (SPREP 1999, Parkes 2006). Consider controlling cats and rats Rattus spp. Make this species an emblem for conservation on Mangaia to engender pride in the species, help prevent deforestation and reduce disturbance of birds and their habitat by people, goats and pigs.

Baker, C.; Bottomley, C.; Kelly, L.; Payne, L.; Whittle, M. 1996. Mangaia '96.

Kelly, L.; Bottomley, C. 1998. Conservation in the Cook Islands.

McCormack, G. 1997. Cook Islands: an oceanic oasis. World Birdwatch 19: 13-16.

Parkes, J. 2006.

Pratt, H. D.; Bruner, P. L.; Berrett, D. G. 1987. A field guide to the birds of Hawaii and the tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Rowe, S.; Empson, R. 1996. Distribution and abundance of the Tanga'eo or Mangaia Kingfisher (Halcyon tuta ruficollaris). Notornis 43: 35-42.

Rowe, S.; Empson, R. 1996. Observations on the breeding behaviour of the Tanga'eo or Mangaia Kingfisher (Halcyon tuta ruficollaris). Notornis 43: 43-48.

SPREP. 1999. Proceedings of the Polynesian Avifauna Conservation Workshop held in Rarotonga, 26-30 April 1999.

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Derhé, M., Harding, M., Mahood, S., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A.

Karika, I., McCormack, G., Pilgrim, J.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Todiramphus ruficollaris. Downloaded from on 13/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 13/07/2014.

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 - Mangaia kingfisher (Todiramphus ruficollaris) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
Species name author (Holyoak, 1974)
Population size 270-470 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 50 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species