Deep Dive: Get to Know the Kingfisher

The Kingfisher is one of the most effective fishers on the river, and watching them dive for their prey is quite a spectacle. The grace and speed with which they plunge into the water is nearly unmatched in the natural world, that’s why they are king. Kingfisher’s come in many varieties that can be found all around the world. In Australia you can find the Kookaburra by listening for it’s maniacal laugh. In Africa and Asia you’ll see the black and white Pied Kingfisher, and here in WNC you’ll find the beautiful Belted Kingfisher.

These graceful predators sit at the top of the aquatic food chain scooping up fish bugs and amphibians. In turn they also serve as a wonderful food source for hawks and other birds of prey. If you’re a bird nerd seeing one of these is a real treat, they’re definitely one of our favorite species to see on the water! Let’s checkout some of the basics for these flying fishers.

More Fun Facts

  • Kingfishers have something called a nictitating membrane which is a thin translucent eyelid that protects their eyes when they dive underwater.
  • When they breed they build their nest burrow into the stone-free sandy soil of a low stream bank. These burrows can also be utilized by Swallows.
  • You won’t see these birds near polluted waters since the fish population is not big enough to support them. Each Kingfisher needs to eat its body weight in fish everyday.
  • Males and females will combine their territories during breeding season in order to feed their young. During the colder months they will often divide their summer territory. Each territory covers about 1km of river.
Masters of the Dive

There are so many incredible facts about these masterful fishers. If you’re curious to learn more about how they hunt, their cool adaptations, or the various sub-species around the world, then check out this video from Animalogic. They’ve done a great job of showcasing how these incredible birds do what they do.