Photographing The Common Kingfisher

Here are some tips for finding and photographing the common kingfisher.

|  Eschenbach Arena D+ 10x50 B in Animals / Wildlife
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Kingfisher eschenbach

If you see one, you can be doubly happy: A kingfisher is not only a beautiful sight, it is also a sign of clean waters.

Appearance

Thanks to its splendid plumage, the kingfisher is unmistakable even for less experienced birdwatchers. No other native European bird displays such colours, from the strong shining, slightly changing turquoise of its back to the rusty red colouring of its belly. The male has a completely black beak while the female’s lower mandible is orange with a black tip; this is the only visual difference between males and females.

 

Distribution

The common kingfisher is the only member of the kingfishers family or Alcedinidae in Central Europe. It is very common throughout mainland Europe and the British Isles but rarer in Scandinavia, where rivers freeze over in winter. Kingfishers living in regions where the climate is mild year-round don’t migrate, only those living in areas with prolonged freezing conditions during winter need to. Kingfishers are rather choosy when it comes to their habitat. They need clean and clear water, whether natural or man-made, in their territory.

 

Bird Watching Tips

Since the kingfisher feeds mainly on small fish and amphibians, it can be observed almost exclusively near rivers or lakes. Despite its conspicuous plumage, the kingfisher can be difficult to see when it’s above water. However, it can be easily recognized by its call, a sharp "chee".

Kingfishers are solitary and territorial. A kingfisher does not tolerate the presence of another kingfisher in its territory, except during the mating season. During the courtship, the kingfisher is particularly noisy and varies the speed and rhythm of its call.

The Kingfisher is extremely impressive when it hunts. It looks for preys from a perch above the water and bobs its head to evaluate the distance when it has found one. The kingfisher then dives head first into the waters and grabs its prey in the blink of an eye.

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