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. 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.
Kingfishers breed near lowland watercourses and lakes which have suitable banks for burrowing nests and shallow edges for feeding. They occasionally visit gardens.
- Length: 15-17cm
- Wingspan: 40cm
- Weight: 25g
- Average Lifespan: 2 years
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.
Widespread, absent from northern Scotland.
When to see
January – December
- 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.
- Kingfishers are known for their dramatic dives when feeding. The kingfisher will usually wait on a feeding perch near the water until it launches itself head-first into the water in pursuit of its prey. Kingfishers must eat the equivalent of their own body weight in fish every day.