Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

Kingfisher © Darin Smith


The Kingfisher is a small bird, only around 6 inches long, but it makes a big impression. A repeated short sharp whistle advertises its presence. Birds are fierce in defence of their territories, which could take up to a mile of the river where fish populations are reasonable. Kingfishers begin to pair up in February. Kingfishers excavate nesting burrows 2 – 3 ft. long, near the top of the earth bank to minimise the risk of flooding. Starting in late March, the female Kingfisher lays on average 6 eggs per brood and the pair can raise 2 – 3 broods a year. The young birds usually fledge within a month and are fed for only a few days after leaving the nest.


Kingfishers are fish eaters. They dive from a suitable perch on the river’s edge, above shoals of minnows or small fry, to catch them under water. Bursting back out of the water, they fly back to their perch and wallop the small fish’s head against a branch by a way of discouragement. Kingfishers feed on lakes as well as rivers and streams.

How to track/identify?

Kingfishers have a blue back with a dazzling silvery blue streak down the middle. Their chest, belly and cheeks are a warm orange, and their beak is sharp like a dagger. There is one difference between the male and female Kingfishers which is the male beak is all dark whereas the female beak is orange on the bottom.

Did you know?

  • If there are no natural vantage points near a suitable shoal of fish, the Kingfisher can hover above the water like a Hummingbird.
  • Extended floods or frosts reduce the Kingfisher survival through the winter, and in the worst conditions, they may move to the coast.
  • Kingfisher’s fly fast, low and direct from one place to another.

Reserves where they are present

Top place- Langford Lakes but they can also be spotted at – Morningside MeadowsLower Moor Farm, Conigre Mead, Smallbrook Meadows & Cloatley Meadows.

Others in the Bird Family

Barn OwlYellowhammer

Print out a copy of the Kingfisher fact sheet

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