The Red-backed Kingfisher (Todiramphus pyrrhopygius) is a blue/green (although sometimes appearing more bluish in colour), with white colours and the striking rusty chestnut rump. Seen in flight the upper wing is blue. It has a strong black eye-line and greyish streaked crown.

The female of the species has a duller colour overall, with a more heavily streaked crown, and a more muted turquoise colour in the wings. The white areas of the male are more buff in the female. The juvenile birds are similar in colour to the female, but with have a more muted green back and mantle, with more speckling on the breasts.

This is a desert kingfisher that is usually seen across the more arid parts of Australia, but has been sighted across much of the Australian mainland. In the southeast of the country, it is more a summer visitor.

The Red-backed Kingfisher inhabits dry forests, mulga and mallee country, although it is also seen in spinifex areas that have very few trees.

During the breeding season (between August to February), they seem to like river courses and areas with earthy banks where they can dig nesting burrows. Dams, abandoned mine shafts, the occasional hollow branch and termite mounds (in the north of the country) have also been used as nesting sites. They lay from two to six white rounded eggs, that are incubated for between 20 to 23 days by both parent birds. It takes up to a further 30 days before the fledglings are able to leave the nest.

The diet consists of insects (such as grasshoppers, locusts, beetles, leaf-insects, caterpillars, ants), spiders, centipedes, scorpions, small crustaceans, fishes, frogs, lizards, small snakes, and the occasional small mammal.


  • Scientific classification
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Coraciiformes
  • Family: Alcedinidae
  • Subfamily: Halcyoninae
  • Genus: Todiramphus
  • Species: T. pyrrhopygius
  • Binomial name: Todiramphus pyrrhopygius
  • Synonyms: Halcyon pyrrhopygia