Belongs to: oddballs

Kingfisher Alcedo atthis

BoCC Amber list

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Distinctive electric-blue bird of rivers and streams, its bright colours a warning that its flesh is foul-tasting

Signs that a recent decline may be reversing as our smaller rivers become cleaner and are managed better

Resident; liable to starve in very cold winters because their food supply is cut off


Red underparts, legs and face patch, electric blue upperparts; long pointed bill; 16 cm

Sits on perch watching, then dives into water to catch fish, gulping them down whole, head first

Fast direct flight low across the water when disturbed


Male and female together dig a nest hole at least 60 cm long in a steep bank over water

In courtship and while female is brooding, male feeds her with fish

Two broods April to July; 6-7 white eggs, almost round

© Alan Williams