Kingfishers - riverside jewels

Kingfisher photograph taken by Rick Stead.

Worldwide there are about 90 species of kingfishers. They can be found in woodland and wetland areas.

The European or Common Kingfisher, which are the ones that you will see along the River Otter, are always found near fresh water. They are the most beautiful coloured birds you can imagine with a shimmering bright blue back and rusty red under parts, complemented by a splash of white on their chin and neck.

You will see them sitting on a branch or post watching the water. Suddenly they drop from their lookout point into the water. They have excellent eyesight to see both in and out of the water with a specially shaped lens in their eyes to allow them to do that. This makes them very accurate fishermen so when they come out of the water they’ve nearly always caught something.

They eat small fish, frogs, crayfish and insects. If their catch is large they whip it against a branch or drop it on a stone to kill it. If it’s a small fish or insects then they will swallow it immediately.

It is a bird of the waterside, since it feeds entirely upon aquatic animals. It is frequently seen beside lakes, ponds, canals or dykes and streams. The River Otter is not an especially deep or fast river and there are many trees along its banks, making it the perfect habitat for kingfishers.

The beautiful picture at the top of this page was taken by photographer Rick Stead.

For more of his pictures of kingfishers click here

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