The Kingfisher is an instantly recognisable bird, commonly found across most of Britain and Europe. Despite favouring more secluded waterways, Kingfishers can be seen on almost any river, stream, fishing-lake, gravel pit or garden pond. However, despite the spectacular colour scheme, they can be notoriously difficult to see.
Kingfishers can spend a great deal of time sitting on a half-hidden branch over a quiet river, waiting for a chance to prove their prowess. At other times, however, Kingfishers can be noisy beasts, whether squabbling over territory or planning intimate liaisons, and their piercing, piping call can be heard several hundred metres away.
Kingfishers have a large head, a thick-based dagger-like bill, short wings and a short tail. The bill is black on the male (sometimes with deep red at the base), while the female has a blackish bill with an extensive orangey-red tone to the lower mandible. Both sexes have black eyes and red feet.
Kingfishers really speed past you as they fly by, an amazing sight when first encountered, a whoosh of colour. The blue of the upperparts contrasts with the darker, greener-looking flight feathers, while the white neck patch and orange cheeks and underparts can all be seen if you are lucky enough.
This adult male’s head pattern is a mix of brilliant blue, rich orange and white. The forehead to the rear nape is a deep turquoise-blue, while the lores and cheeks are orange, and the throat and neck patch are white. The upperparts are bright turquoise, with a slightly darker tail. The wings are a slightly darker blue, with a small amount of white spotting. The underparts are wholly orangey-red.
Kingfishers nest along ‘softish’ river banks, choosing somewhere that will give them every opportunity to have an easy dig as they excavate the nest tunnel. They will lay between five and seven eggs, and usually have two broods in a season.
The classic view of a Kingfisher, plunging into the water in search of a suitable fish dish. Wings held back, neck extended, bill thrusting forward and then SPLASH!!
Juvenile Kingfishers do not have quite the same technicolor plumage as the adults, but they are still pretty snazzy. The head and wings are more green than blue, and the orange of the face and underparts is a little more subdued. The mantle and tail are quite bright blue, though. The bill and eye are black and the feet orangey. When perched, Kingfishers, if nervous, will bob their heads and flick their tails before whirring off into the distance at great speed.