Common Kingfisher

Common Kingfisher

(Alcedo atthis)(adult bird with its prey)

Size(17-18cm): It is a small bird with the size same as that of a House Sparrow known to most of us.

Area: Almost all India except dry desert area of Rajasthan and heights of Jammu and Kashmir(especially Ladakh).

Habitat: It inhabits clear and slow flowing rivers and well vegetated streams.

My two words: Common Kingfisher is a small sparrow sized bird with blue upper parts and orange underparts distinctive; long bill which it uses to catch fish; short blue tail.

It can be seen roosting alone under heavy cover. Mostly solitary throughout the life. It eats almost 60-65% of its body weight. Highly territorial with a territory almost 1 km long.

If another kingfisher enters its territory than both display from their respective perches which might lead to their famous Bill Fights. In it both would hold each other’s bill and try to hold under water as long as possible to show their strength.

Mostly stays still over the stream of water and suddenly gives short and quick dives in the river to catch its meal. It lays glossy white eggs in its burrow like nest that it creates on a low vertical riverbank.The courtship is started by the male bird, chasing the female and calling simultaneously. The egg incubation is done by both the birds but during the night only the female incubates them. Egg hatching takes 18-20 days after which the young ones stay in the nest for about 20-30 days until they are good enough to go.

Little Blue Kingfisher(on a perch, waiting for prey)

The first few days of the juvenile are more dangerous than the rest of its life. During its first dives after leaving the nest the young ones may become waterlogged and drown causing their life to end.

It’s diet mainly consists of fish for which it patiently waits 1-2m above the water level on perch. Once caught the fish is beaten 3-5 times against the branch till its dead and then swallowed whole, head first.

~Arjun Basandrai

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