Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) | Top Details, Characteristics & Amazing Facts

All about the Kingfisher

Kingfishers are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short tails, and long, strong legs. Their colourful plumage is often highlighted by bright crests or distinctive patterns of colour on their faces or wings. They have large heads, short necks, and large bills connected to the powerful jaws that allow them to eat a variety of prey ranging from insects to fish and frogs. If you’re interested in learning more about the kingfisher, keep reading!

one of nature’s tiniest predators has been called many things, from terror to king. This species is a part of a family known as kingfishers, which have several different species. They are found all around the world, though their natural habitat is in either tropical areas or temperate zones. Kingfishers are one of few bird species that can hunt both in water and on land. The kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) is native to Central Europe but also southern and western England, as well as Northern Italy, Croatia, and Romania.

The bright blue kingfisher bird

With a striking blue head and back, a white throat and belly, and an orange bill with a black tip, these birds are easy to identify. However, most people have never heard of them until they stumble upon one while walking through the woods or on their patio. No need to be surprised, as kingfishers are fairly common around America—they reside in every continent except Antarctica! The kingfisher lives near water or open woodland areas and feeds off of fish that it catches by diving straight into the water. It can dive over three feet deep into the water without hesitation!

Origin of its name

The kingfisher got its name from two sources. The first comes from its diet, which includes fish and other aquatic animals since it is a type of bird known as a fish-eating bird. Another source for its name is tied to how it looks in flight when it dives after food; there is a resemblance to how kings were often depicted holding their sceptres as they rode atop horses. For these reasons, people came up with the name king and fisher—which appropriately describes what they eat and where they like to be.


Physical Characteristics

The kingfisher is a small bird that typically has a total length of between 10 and 14 inches. A mature bird will weigh anywhere from 25 to 35 grams, although there are individuals which are heavier or lighter than average. These birds have no plumage to speak of, instead of having light gray skin coloration with black stripes and blotches. 

They possess bright orange beaks with strong bills that they use to capture fish, although some kingfishers will consume insects as well. As far as appearance goes, females tend to look similar to males but without ornamentation on their heads. This species is found in places like Africa, Asia, Europe, and even parts of North America where they live near bodies of water to hunt for food.

Diet of the blue kingfisher

Although kingfishers are considered carnivorous birds, many species are more herbivorous. They typically feed on insects and aquatic creatures such as worms, fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. It has also been found that kingfishers use lizards as their prey during nesting season. Blue kingfishers usually eat small fish while red-billed kingfishers prefer to hunt other birds or reptiles. Only a few species of kingfishers such as some of those in Africa have been known to consume larger animals like rodents and snakes. Food is normally obtained by diving into the water after swimming underwater for some time.


Incredible Facts

  • These birds don’t migrate. They stay near their nests year-round, but they are excellent swimmers and will even dive underwater to catch prey. 

  • Kingfishers use their long beaks to dig for worms, insects, crayfish, and other underwater creatures. 

  • These birds have even been observed eating small fish, frogs, and snakes! Because of their diet and their large talons, kingfishers are sometimes known as termite hawk or snake hawks. 

  • Fun Fact: The myth that a kingfisher can kill a snake with its bill has endured for centuries. 

  • It was said that if you found a dead snake near your home, it had probably been killed by one of these birds. 

  • Today scientists know no bird species can do such damage with its beak, especially when there is no head involved. 

  • Most kingfishers eat things like minnows and tadpoles rather than snakes and live in mostly wooded areas rather than homes!


  1. Dude.. I am not much into reading, but somehow I got to read numerous articles on your blog. Its amazing how interesting it is for me to have a look at you very often.

  2. Rahul Shinde

    Really nice article and helpful me

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