Kingfisher (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. 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.


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

When to see them

January - December

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.


Widespread, absent from northern Scotland.

Where to see them

Ayr Gorge Woodlands, Balgavies Loch, Bawsinch and Duddingston, Belmaduthy Dam, Bogburn Flood Lagoons, Carron Glen, Cumbernauld Glen, Falls of Clyde, Garnock Floods, Knockshinnoch Lagoons, Luggiebank Wood, Rahoy Hills, Roslin Glen, Tailend Moss, Yetholm Loch

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.


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