Bird of the Week: Kingfisher

The kingfisher one of the brightest coloured birds and it's preferred habitat is slow-moving river banks or by the side of lakes.

By Kieren Puffett
Published 26 Mar 2018, 15:28 BST
Photograph by Ben Andrews

These distinctive orange and blue birds live near slow-moving or still water such as marshes, canals or rivers. Kingfishers can be difficult to spot, flying quickly and low across the surface of the water, hunting freshwater fish and the occasional aquatic invertebrate from riverside perches. Sometimes all that can be seen is a flash across the water before they disappear.

The common kingfisher is a solitary creature for most of the year. Both males and females are highly territorial and will defend their home range vigorously. But pairs form in the autumn and share a territory whilst raising their offspring. Both parents are kept on the go as chicks can demand up to a hundred fish a day.

Kingfishers are not easy birds to spot despite their bright colouring. Best place to see them is by slow-moving river banks or by the side of lakes.
Photograph by Ben Andrews RSPB-Images

The males start to woo their females in February and you may be able to see the ‘fish passes’. This is where the male will try to feed the female by offering her a fish, head first. This courtship ritual can take place over a few weeks before the female actually accepts the tasty titbit and lets the male mate with her.

There are between four to six thousand pairs of kingfisher which can be found throughout most of the UK. They are vulnerable to harsh winters and polluted waterways but adults can raise three families a year which helps numbers jump up quickly.

The kingfishers' diet typically consists of small freshwater fish and the occasional aquatic invertebrate hunted their from riverside perches.
Photograph by Ben Andrews RSPB-Images

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