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Kingfisher by Jon Hawkins


Alcedo atthis

A famously colourful bird of rivers and streams, the kingfisher can be spotted sitting quietly on low-hanging branches over the water, suddenly diving in to catch a small fish.

© Kingfisher by Jon Hawkins

Kingfishers breed near lowland watercourses and lakes which have suitable banks for burrowing nests and shallow edges for feeding. They occasionally visit gardens.

How to Identify

The striking mix of its bright-blue back and metallic copper breast make the kingfisher unmistakable. Male kingfishers have an entirely black bill, females have an orangey-red patch at the base.

Where to find

Widespread, absent from northern Scotland.

How People Can Help

Kingfishers are vulnerable to harsh winters and habitat degradation such as pollution and the unsympathetic management of riverbanks. The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you’ll find out about exciting wildlife happenings, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and be helping local wildlife along the way.

Did you know?

There are about 90 species of kingfisher around the world, most of which have brightly coloured plumage. The Australian kingfisher – the familiar, ‘laughing’ kookaburra – is the heaviest of all the kingfisher species.

Key Facts

  • Length: 15-17cm
  • Wingspan: 40cm
  • Weight: 25g
  • Average Lifespan: 2 years


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