Kingfishers are bright coloured chunky birds. They have short necks and large heads, and many of them sport crests that they can raise. They have long beaks, short legs and small, weak feet. They are small and plump with a very short tail. Their back and tail are electric-blue, the crown and wings are greenish-blue. The under parts and cheeks are an orange-red and the throat and collar are pure white. The bill and legs are bright red, brown or black. They have two toes on each foot that are partially webbed. They weigh about 140-170g, have the wingspan of 48-58cm and are 11-14 inches long.
Kingfishers fly very fast and often very low over the water. All we see is a bright blue flash as they pass by. Both male and female kingfishers look almost similar. The only difference is the red chest band and flanks of female birds. There are about 90 species of Kingfisher in the world except for polar regions or some oceanic islands. Most species live in the eastern hemisphere, especially in southeast Asia.
Kingfishersâ€™ diet mainly includes freshwater fish. They also eat water insects and small amphibians. Most eastern hemisphere kingfishers donâ€™t fish and the forest or wood kingfishers may live far from water. So they eat reptiles. Some kingfishers feed on crayfish, frogs and insects.
While fishing, they perch on a branch over the water watching and waiting for a fish to swim by. They dive in to the water for the fish, inevitably catch it, and then return to the branch where they will stun the fish before swallowing its head first. They beat their prey to death, either by whipping it against a tree or by dropping it on a stone.
Kingfishers are found throughout the world. Kingfishers live in both woodland and wetland habitats. They are able to see well both in air and under water. They are mostly found in rainforests, woodland areas far from water, desert steppe, grassy savannas, streams, lakeshores, mangroves, seashores, gardens, mountain forests, and oceanic islands.
Kingfishers build their nest in a bank next to slow-moving water. The nest is usually in a tunnel which is 12-36 inch long. Their breeding season starts late April. Females lay about six to seven eggs that are white, smooth and glossy. The male and female take turns incubating the eggs. After an incubation period of 18 to 22 days, the eggs hatch. The young are born without feathers and must stay close to one another for warmth. The young are able to fly after 20 to 30 days. Both the parents feed their young ones.
The life span of the kingfisher is two years.