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Kingfishers are small unmistakable bright blue and orange birds of slow moving or still water. They fly rapidly, low over water, and hunt fish from riverside perches, occasionally hovering above the water's surface.

They are vulnerable to hard winters and habitat degradation through pollution or unsympathetic management of watercourses. Kingfishers are amber listed because of their unfavourable conservation status in Europe.

There are about 90 species of kingfisher worldwide. All have large heads, long, sharp, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. They are able to see well both in air and under water while swimming. Their eyes also have evolved an egg-shaped lens able to focus in the two different environments.

The diet is mainly freshwater fish, also aquatic invertebrates. The hungry brood of a Kingfisher can demand over 100 fish a day from their parents.

Quick Facts

21-21 days

Clutch Size
5-7 eggs

Egg Weight

Egg Size
22x19 mm

First Record
8th Century

Rivers, marshes, lakes, seacoasts



16 cm

Status in UK
Migrant/Resident Breeder

Conservation Status UK

Number in Britain

23-26 days

Number of broods
1 or 2

Age at First Breeding
1 year

Maximum Recorded Age
4 years, 6 months

  • The Kingfishers dig burrows in the river banks, digging with their beaks and push the dirt out of the burrows with their feet.
  • They have long beaks, short legs and small  feeble feet.
  • The average lifespan is 15 years.
  • The nest fills with fish bones, droppings and pellets, making the Kingfisher one of the most unhygienic birds.
  •  Numerous young Kingfishers die by drowning when they first fledge. Because of the high death rate, pairs usually have two or three broods a year, with as many as 10 in a brood.
  • A Kingfisher needs to eat at least 16 minnows a day to survive the winter.
  • As many as 90% of Kingfishers die in a severe winter.
  • They also eat many aquatic insects.
  • There are 90 different species of Kingfisher although only one breeds in Europe.
  • Many of the Kingfishers never eat fish or go near water.