White-throated kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Coraciiformes
Family Alcedinidae
Genus Halcyon

Halcyon is a genus of tree kingfishers in the Alcedinidae family.

However, other sources, including Fry & Fry, lump the genera Pelargopsis, Syma and Todiramphus into Halcyon to make a much larger grouping.


"Halcyon" is a name for a bird in Greek legend generally associated with the kingfisher. There was an ancient belief that the bird nested on the sea, which it calmed in order to lay its eggs on a floating nest. Two weeks of calm weather were therefore expected around the winter solstice. This myth leads to the use of halcyon as a term for peace or calmness.


The genus Halcyon in the current sense consists mainly of species resident in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a couple of representatives in southern Asia, one of which, the white-throated kingfisher, occasionally reaches Europe. White-throated and ruddy kingfishers are at least partially migratory.


Halcyon kingfishers are mostly large birds with heavy bills. They occur in a variety of habitats, with woodland of various types the preferred environment for most. They are “sit and wait” predators of small ground animals including large insects, rodents, snakes, and frogs, but some will also take fish.


It contains the following species:

Brown-hooded Kingfisher (Scopoli, 1786) (Halcyon albiventris)
Chocolate-backed Kingfisher (Verreaux & Verreaux, 1851) (Halcyon badia)
Striped Kingfisher (Stanley, 1814) (Halcyon chelicuti)
Ruddy Kingfisher (Latham, 1790) (Halcyon coromanda)
Javan Kingfisher (Vieillot, 1818) (Halcyon cyanoventris)
Grey-headed Kingfisher (Müller, 1776) (Halcyon leucocephala)
Blue-breasted Kingfisher (Shaw, 1811) (Halcyon malimbica)
Black-capped Kingfisher (Boddaert, 1783) (Halcyon pileata)
Woodland Kingfisher (Linnaeus, 1766) (Halcyon senegalensis)
Mangrove Kingfisher (Smith, 1834) (Halcyon senegaloides)
White-throated Kingfisher (Linnaeus, 1758) (Halcyon smyrnensis)
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.