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bird Kingfishers

Identify It >   Birds Section >   Kingfishers >


Scientific name:  Alcedo atthis

Size:  Approximately 13cm.  The beak is around 4cm long

Distribution:  Found in most of the UK except the north of Scotland

Months seen:  All year round

Habitat:  Lakes, ponds and slow moving rivers and streams.  In winter kingfishers are sometimes seen at the coast

Food:  Mostly fish and some insects

Special features:  Most sightings of kingfishers are very brief. Usually a quick, dazzling flash of sapphire blue plumage whizzing low over the surface of water.  If you're lucky you might spot one perching, staring intently into the water as it lines up to catch its next fish.

The kingfisher's nest is a burrow excavated in a bank beside water.  The eggs are laid at the back end of the burrow between April and June.

When the eggs have hatched the parents will continually fly into the burrow with fish for the chicks.  Another sign that there are chicks in the burrow is when you see the adult kingfisher flying out of the burrow and briefly dipping into the water.  The kingfishers feathers can become messy with all the fish being carried into the burrow, and this dipping helps to clean them.

When the chicks have fledged they only remain with the parents for a short time.  Usually just long enough to learn to catch their own fish.  After this they're driven away by the parents to find their own territories.

The male and female kingfisher look very similar, except for the beaks.  The beak of the male is all black, while the lower half of the females beak is a reddish-orange colour

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