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Bill Cupp — May 19, 09:52AM

Which Bird is Which?

We live in Saipan. Regularly we see two different variations of kingfishers: we see one that is bright, rich blue in coloring and one that is aqua blue. Both birds' coloring are quite striking and beautiful.
Various lists have either the Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) as in the Northern Mariana Islands or the Mariana Kingfisher (Todiramphus albicilla) as here. E-bird has Collared Kingfisher as "rare."
I have looked at lots and lots of pictures on various sites about birds and, frankly, I am not sure how to tell which is which. Which is the blue one? Which is the aqua one? T. chloris or T. albicilla. Trust me, both are here. Indeed, I am of the opinion that several sets of pictures may have some birds mislabeled because I see both colorings among both birds' sets of picture.
Other than the distinctive shade of blue, is there a good way to tell them apart?

If you can follow computer color codes, here are the approximate RGB values for the blue one and the aqua one.
Blue: rgb(33, 112, 239)
Aqua: rgb(32, 199, 214)

Filmore — May 19, 10:32PM

The taxonomy of the "collared" kingfishers is far from settled.

Regarding the wide-ranging Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris), there are 50 (!) or so subspecies named. Plumage is variable.

The Mariana Kingfisher (T. albicilla), endemic to the Northern Mariana Islands, was formerly considered a subspecies of the Collared, but is now considered a full species. There are three subspecies. Photographs frequently show a white head with a black stripe running from the eye to the nape.

You might try distinguishing the two by sound, though I wouldn't expect it to be easy.

You can read more here:

Happy kingfishering!

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Bill — May 19, 11:26PM

Thanks for the response, especially the links. I found them both useful.
I listened carefully to both Todiramphus chloris and Todiramphus albicilla on After now listening to maybe a dozen or more Kingfisher audio recordings, I observe that it seems the various species have two types of calls. One is more of a "chuh-chuh-chuh" and the other is more melodious.
Listening carefully to the two "chuh-chuh-chuh" calls of T. chloris and T. albicilla, it seems to me that T. albicilla is sharper, a higher pitched note, whereas T. chloris has more of a sound almost like two objects striking. Indeed, at a distance in the night it's not unlike hearing a gecko clucking.
I am certain that I've heard T. chloris here on Saipan, even if it is considered rare. I know that I've heard T. albicilla, too.
Thanks. This is great, as I am sort of new to "formal birding."

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