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Common kingfisher is a small bird, slightly larger than a sparrow. Wing length is about 7-8 cm, weight 25-45 grams. Male kingfisher has gaudy plumage, green-blue upperparts with pale azure-blue back and rump. It has a green-blue neck stripe, white neck blaze and throat, rufous underparts, and a black bill with some red at the base. The female is identical in appearance to the male except that her lower mandible is orange-red with a black tip.

The common kingfisher hunts from a perch 1–2 m above the water, on a branch, post or riverbank, bill pointing down as it searches for prey. It bobs its head when food is detected to gauge the distance, and plunges steeply down to seize its prey usually no deeper than 25 cm below the surface.

The food is mainly fish up to 12.5 cm long, but the average size is 2.3 cm. Minnows, sticklebacks, small roach and trout are typical prey. About 60% of food items are fish, but this kingfisher also catches aquatic insects such as dragonfly larvae and water beetles.


Photo: Sergei Belykh