White-throated kingfishers have thick, reddish-orange bills, red legs, and dark chocolate-colored heads, bellies, and shoulders. A brilliant white patch can be found on the throat and sometimes the breast. The wings and tail are bright blue with white patches on the primaries and black distal tips. The sexes appear similar. Juvenile birds are generally less brilliantly-colored with duskier bills and less brown on the wings. Young individuals may also sport a shoulder mark with extensive blue edging. White-throated kingfishers are the only South Asian kingfisher that is distinctly darker below than it is above. Adult birds weigh 65.5 to 81 grams. Basal metabolic rate has not been recorded. (Ali and Ripley, 1983; Anderton and Rassmussen, 2005; Wells, 1999) There are several recognized subspecies.
Halcyon smyrnensis smyrnensis, one of the two larger subspecies, ranges from the Gulf of Khambhat in India west to Saudi Arabia. This subspecies is bright blue-green above and has pale brown underparts. Halcyon smyrnensis fusca is a resident in the whole of India and ranges upward into parts of Nepal and Sikkim. This subspecies also has a bright blue-green back, but its belly is more darkly chocolate-colored and it is smaller than H. smyrnensis smyrnensis. Halcyon smyrnensis perpulchra is found in east Pakistan northern India, Bangladesh, Myannmar, Thailand, Malaysia, southeast China and Taiwan. This subspecies is on the smaller side and is more purplish-blue above than the previous two sub species. Halcyon smyrnensis saturatior is found on the Andaman Islands. This subspecies is also purplish-blue, but it is larger than H. smyrnensis perpulchra and it also bears a darker brown belly.
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