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Kingfisher

Scientific Name: Alcedo atthis
Size: 16-17cm
Weight: 40g
Wingspan: 24-26cm
Lifespan: 2 years
Breeding: late April
Number of Clutches: 1-2
Number of Eggs: 5-7
Incubation Days: 20-21
Fledg Days: 23-26
Habitat: Rivers, marshes, lakes, seacoasts
Distribution: Europe, c&s Asia

Description

With its short tail, bright plumage and large head equipped with a long dagger-like bill the Kingfisher is a striking and easily identified bird. The tail and back are a bright, iridescent blue, the wings, nape and crown are green or blue-green, the collar and throat white and the cheeks and under parts orange. The legs and the feet are a bright coral red, the eyes are relatively large and black as is the bill except in the female where the lower mandible is mostly red. They are only about the size of a House Sparrow and fast in flight so most sightings are either of a bright flash of blue skimming low over water or more commonly on a perch overlooking the water as they lie in wait of prey below.

Nest

The nest is usually in a tunnel, 30-90 cm (12-36") long, in a bank next to slow-moving water. The tunnel is excavated by both sexes and is not lined with any material. The eggs are white, smooth and glossy, and are almost round at 23 mm by 20 mm. The male and female take turns incubating the eggs, and both adults feed the young.

Feeding

Freshwater fish are the main part of the Kingfisher's diet, but they will also take aquatic insects and more rarely crustaceans, molluscs and small amphibians. When fishing, they perch on a branch over or close to the water watching and waiting for a fish to swim by. They dive in to the water for the fish, inevitably catch it, and then return to the branch where they will stun the fish before swallowing it head first.

Legal Status

Kingfishers have returned to many once polluted rivers in industrial towns and cities. Despite this, pollution remains a threat, especially in Europe, and the Kingfisher remains an amber listed species of conservation concern.

Voice

There is much dispute as to whether Kingfishers have a song. Whether or not they do, the commonest call is a shrill whistle "chi-keeeee".

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