1. There are 87 different species of kingfisher in the world, but only one, the Alcedo atthis, breeds in Europe.
2. Few British kingfishers ever move more than 250km, though freezing weather will prompt them to move to the coast.
3. Though fish form the main part of the kingfisher’s diet, it also eats many aquatic insects, including dragonfly nymphs and water beetles.
4. Though adults pair in the autumn, they retain separate territories until the spring, when they gradually merge together.
5. Many young kingfishers die within days of fledging, their first dives leaving them waterlogged so they end up drowning. Because of the high mortality of young, kingfishers usually have two or three broods a year, with as many as 10 in a brood.
6. Kingfishers are renowned for messy nests, which become littered with droppings, pellets and fish bones.
7. The brilliant blue of the kingfisher’s back feathers are not the result of pigment, but the result of light striking the specially modified layers of feather cells.
8. Kingfishers fly at only one pace: fast and straight, but they can hover when fishing.
9. The kingfisher doesn’t have a song, though it does have a distinctive flight call, a shrill whistle.
10. Severe winters can lead to as many as 90% of Britain’s kingfishers perishing.
What can you do?
According to Andrew Fallan, author of ‘Winging It: Birding for Low-flyers’ the best place locally to spot kingfishers is Rainham Marshes, which provides a wonderful if rather unlikely wildlife haven.
For the last few years, kingfishers have nested right in front of the reserve’s Marshland Discovery Zone, where with a bit of patience, you can feast your eyes on Kingfishers as they fly to and from the nest, rest on a perch and even dive into the water for a quick bath!