Alcedo atthis


A famously colourful bird of rivers and streams, the kingfisher 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 which 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. Male kingfishers have an entirely black bill, females have an orangey-red patch at the base.

Where to find it

Widespread, absent from northern Scotland.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Kingfishers are vulnerable to harsh winters and habitat degradation such as pollution and the unsympathetic management of riverbanks. 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 happenings, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and be helping local wildlife along the way.

Local information

The large hide at Chimney Meadows overlooking BBOWT's newly developing wetland area provides wonderful vistas of feeding kingfisher. The reserve is within the Upper Thames Living Landscape area. This is one of BBOWT's Living Landscape projects to restore, recreate and manage a mosaic of habitats which are linked by 'corridors'. These projects will benefit a wide variety of wildlife including wetland birds. 

Kingfishers may also be seen at College Lake which is one of the best places in Buckinghamshire for water birds. Smaller reserves where you may see kingfishers include Dry Sandford Pit where they hunt around the ponds, Hungerford Marsh with the River Dun running through it, Moor Copse on the banks of the River Pang and the riverside Cholsey Marsh. You may also see them at the CS Lewis Nature Reserve which is a small reserve near the centre of Oxford. The site was once owned by the author CS Lewis and it's said he wandered around here while writing his classic children's books.

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Alcedo atthis
Woodpeckers, cuckoo and kingfisher
Length: 15-17cm Wingspan: 40cm Weight: 25g Average Lifespan: 2 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.