© 2014 by Barbara Copperthwaite.

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Kingfisher

 

There is no mistaking this beautiful bird, the Kingfisher is easily recognisable. It has a distinctive silhouette thanks to its long beak and stubby tail, but it is its colours which truly make the Kingfisher stand out from the crowd. From the white throat flash to the rusty glow of its magnificent chest and cheek stripe, not to mention its brilliant blue plummage, which is even more iridescent and electrifying on its back.

More often than not, though, it is less their colours which attract people's attention (though they may notice a flash of blue in the corner of an eye), more the tell-tale 'plop' they hear as the bird dives into water for a fish. These birds love slow-flowing or still water, where they live on fish and aquatic insects.

Sadly, the Kingfisher is in decline across Europe due to unsympathetic management of watercourses, although they are holding out well in the UK. They are particularly vulnerable to harsh winters.

Males and females are virtually idential, apart from the underside of the female's beak, which is orange-red with a black tip, while the male's is red at the base.

The incredible electric blue flash on the kingfisher's back

WILD CARD

Did you know that the Kingfisher may seem brightly-coloured but is in fact a disappointingly dingy brown. Not convinced that your eyes are deceiving you? It's true! The bird's pigment is brown, but their vivid colour is iridescence.

Interference between different wavelengths of light reflected from different layers of the feathers produces blues, greens and oranges. The feathers on the bird’s back can seem blue or green depending on the angle at which they are viewed. Amazing, eh!