Key facts

Scientific name: Alcedo atthis
Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding birds: 3.800 – 6.400 pairs

Conservation status: Amber
Length: 16 – 17 cm
Wingspan: 24 – 26 cm
Weight: 34 – 36 g


Adult male kingfishers have turquoise upperparts with a brighter rump. They have blue tails and darker blue wings with turquoise spots on the greater coverts. Their underparts are orange with slightly darker flanks.

Kingfishers have a blue crown and head with fine spots of lighter blue and black. Their lores and ear coverts are orange and they have a black eye stripe. Their chins, throats and sides of neck are white.

Kingfishers have long pointed black bills, dark brown eyes, and bright orange legs and feet.

Females look similar to males except they have an orange lower mandible.

Juvenile kingfishers are duller than the adults and they have greener upperparts and greyish legs.


Kingfishers nest in sandy banks alongside streams and rivers. They may occasionally use a hole in a tree or a wall. Both male and female kingfishers take turns to dig a tunnel with a nest chamber at the end of it.

Kingfishers lay 6-7 white eggs which both parents incubate for 19-21 days. Chicks are fed by both parents and fledge at 23-24 days. They perform their first dive about 4 days later.


Kingfishers eat small fish and crustaceans such as prawns and crabs. They will also catch insects in flight.


Where to see them

Kingfishers are seen across much of the UK particularly in southern and central England. They are less common further north although their range is increasing. They can be spotted by slow flowing water such as lakes, canals, rivers and streams.

Kingfishers may occasionally visit garden ponds.


Beatrix Saadi-Varchmin/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Kingfishers close their eyes when they dive to catch fish. They make an accurate judgement of the depth of the fish in a split-second before diving in.

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