javan kingfisher

Javan Kingfisher

Javan Kingfisher or Blue Blue Bellied Kingfiher  (Halcyon Cyanoventris) is a medium-sized kingfisher which is endemic to the Java and Bali, Indonesia. This brightly-colored Javan Kingfisher that is called Cekakak or Raja Udang has the large head and bill typical of kingfishers.

javan kingfisher
by: Tommy Shamba

Although the species is less suited for aquatic hunting than many of its relatives and catches much of its prey on land or near the water’s edge. The highly territorial bird lays its round white eggs in burrows excavated from earthen walls and riverbanks.

Taxonomy of Javan Kingfisher

Javan Kingfisher has a medium size to 25-30 cm and a dark color. Adult birds have dark brown heads. Brown throat and collar. Purplish blue stomach and back. Black wing covers and bright blue flying feathers.

Iris is dark brown to black with a white circle border, large and wide beak that is red. Red legs. Large white patches on the wings are visible while flying. Juvenile bird with whitish throat.

javan kingfisher
Captured by: Tommy Shamba

Cekakak Jawa is often found in open land and near sources of clean water, often visiting rice fields, fish ponds, drying brackish, pasture, bush and others.

Hunting in open grass and rarely over water. The prey is insects and small animals, including water beetle larvae, fish, shrimp and frogs. Often seen perched on a stake or in a lonely low branch of a tree. This bird is mostly silent, but a distinctive sound is often heard.

Javan kingfisher nests in March and September for 3-4 eggs. White and placed in a nest in the form of a channel or tunnel in the ground, open river banks and exposed to the sun.

Status

The IUCN Red List currently considers the Javan kingfisher a species of “least concern,” citing the bird’s very large range and the fact that its population is not declining precipitously in its assessment of the species.

However, the Javan kingfisher was considered “near threatened” as recently as 1988, and its population is generally considered to be declining.

Population declines were noted as early as 1970 in Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java and local extinctions have also been reported in Bogor.

Although more recent literature has reported Javan kingfishers inhabiting planted urban spaces in Bogor. Even abundant populations in remote regions face danger from encroaching development, as Java has faced widespread deforestation and has few natural preservation areas.

The Javan Kingfisher was formerly protected by Indonesian government Law No. 5 from 1990 and Government Law No. 7 from 1999. But despite its protected status, the bird is still frequently captured, caged, and sold in markets for the caged bird trade despite its unsuitability for captive raising.

Nonetheless, in 2018 the Indonesian government removed protections for Javan kingfishers and several other bird species in light of the IUCN’s “least concern” finding. The removal of the Javan kingfisher’s protections have led to calls for a more thorough assessment of the species’ population and status.

Additional threats include the use of pesticides in orchards and agricultural areas where the bird is frequently observed.