©Jon Hawkins Surrey Hills Photography


©Jon Hawkins Surrey Hills Photographer

Kingfisher in flight

©Malcolm Brown


Scientific name: Alcedo atthis
Look for the unmistakeable azure blue and metallic copper of the kingfisher as it darts along a riverbank, or perches on a low branch over the water, waiting for an unsuspecting fish to swim by.

Species information


Length: 15-17cm
Wingspan: 25cm
Weight: 40g
Average lifespan: 2 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

January to December


The kingfisher is a colourful bird of rivers and streams. It can be spotted sitting quietly on low-hanging branches over the water, suddenly diving in to catch a small fish. Kingfishers breed near lowland watercourses and lakes that have suitable banks for burrowing nests and shallow edges for feeding. They occasionally visit gardens.

How to identify

The striking mix of its bright-blue back and metallic copper breast make the kingfisher unmistakable. Males have an entirely black bill, females have an orangey-red patch at the base.


Widespread, but absent from northern Scotland.

Did you know?

There are about 90 species of kingfisher around the world, most of which have brightly coloured plumage. The Australian kingfisher - the familiar, 'laughing' Kookaburra - is the heaviest of all the kingfisher species.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.