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River Kingfisher

About River Kingfisher

Vividly-colored bird with a short, stumpy body, a short tail, large head, and long, flattened, pointed bill. This bird’s upper parts are iridescent cobalt blue to emerald green, with electric blue on back and rump; underparts light chestnut. Wide chestnut stripe from bill through eye; white throat. Short red legs; black bill, reddish at base in female; dark brown eyes.

This bird breeds in the spring. Together the male and female tunnel up to 39 inches (100cm) into a bank near the water, with a round nest chamber up to 6 inches (15cm) across. They do not use any nest material but the chamber becomes lined with fish bones. They will have 4-8 white eggs, incubated by both parents for 19-21 days.

The River Kingfisher is more than likely seen as an electric blue streak shooting low over the water on whirring wings, often giving its shrill “cheese” call. The River Kingfisher can be hard to locate when it is perched up high looking for prey.

They are very territorial. They will defend a long stretch of river or stream against rivals, and a male may even drive away its own mate in the winter. If the river freezes over, this bird will have to move to a larger lake, floodwaters or even the coast. But if at all possible, the adult males defend their breeding territories throughout the year.