Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

The Common Kingfisher is about the size of a sparrow with a typical kingfisher profile of a large head and a short tail.

It is a beautiful bird, with blue upperparts and feathers, orange under parts, red feet and a long bill. Feeding mainly on fish, it is found along rivers, lakes and ponds, and dives to catch its prey. It has the ability to see its prey underwater and its eyes are protected due to a special third eyelid that is activated during dives.

A Common Kingfisher must eat at least 60% if its body weight each day to survive, and are hence very territorial, having control of a stretch of water which is jealously guarded against entry of other Kingfishers. I have seen a pair fighting over territory, where beaks are used as the main weapon and the aim is to drown the other by holding its beak underwater as long as possible! They nest in a burrow excavated along river banks of about two feet long and ending in a chamber.

The Common Kingfisher is widely distributed and found in Asia, Europe and North America.

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