© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Alcedo atthis

  • Name also: Common Kingfisher, Eurasian Kingfisher, River Kingfisher
  • Family: Kingfishers – Alcedinidae
  • Appearance: Small, stocky brightly coloured birds, like “flying jewels” found along rivers. Upper parts greenish-blue and turquoise; underparts orange. Legs short, beak long and dagger-like.
  • Size: Length 17–19.5 cm, weight 16–23 g.
  • Nest: In holes in steep sandy riverbanks, during late stages of breeding fish-bones used as nest material.
  • Breeding: Lays 5–10 eggs in May. Both parents incubate, for 19–22 days. Young leave nest after 21–37 days.
  • Distribution: Scarce breeder in Finland, found mainly along rivers in the south. Finnish breeding population estimated at just 1–15 pairs.
  • Migration: Partly sedentary. Autumn migration August–October, returning in April–May. Winters in Western and Central Europe. Birds occasionally try to winter in Finland, but usually with poor results.
  • Diet: Small fish (60%) and invertebrates.
  • Calls: A harp, piercing “tsiit”.
  • Endangerment: Critically endangered. European breeding population estimated to be of the order of 100,000 pairs. European red list status Vulnerable, globally Least concern.

Kingfishers are instantly recognisable by their bright multicoloured plumage. Their body also has a distinctive short stocky shape with an unusually large head and a huge dagger-like beak. The colouring along their backs may shine brilliant blue or green, depending on light conditions. They have orange-coloured underparts, and yellowish white markings on their throats and behind their ear-coverts. Their short legs are pinkish-red, their irises are brown, and their beaks are black, with red colouring also often present on the lower mandible.

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