The Common Kingfisher is one of the most beautiful birds on the planet. This bird is primarily found in Eurasia and North Africa.
The Kingfisher is about the size of a Sparrow, with a large head profile and typical tail. This special bird is called the Kingfisher because it has visual adaptations that allow it to see underwater, which makes it a master at catching fish.
If you have ever looked upon one of these birds or studied its behavior, you may wonder about the differences between males and females.
Are there distinctions in behavior and appearance between the two?
Interesting Facts About Kingfishers
Before we talk about the differences between males and females, it is important for you to learn some interesting facts about these fascinating birds.
You may be surprised to learn there are 120 species of Kingfishers in the world.
The largest of the Kingfishers is found in Australia and is called the Laughing Kookaburra. This bird weighs up to 15 times the average-sized Kingfisher.
Although these birds are known for their skills in catching fish, many of them do not consume fish or even go near the water. These birds cannot handle the frigid cold of winter and will migrate to warmer waters.
Unfortunately, severe winters can kill off around 90% of the Kingfisher population.
Unlike some birds, Kingfishers do not sing. Instead, they exhibit a flight call that is a very shrill whistle.
Kingfishers eat fish, but they also enjoy aquatic bugs, including beetles and Dragonfly Nymphs. You may be surprised to learn these birds are not the cleanest. These birds have the most unsanitary nests.
Kingfisher nests are often littered with bone fragments, droppings, and pellets.
Another surprising fact that can be quite shocking to many is that Kingfishers often die in youth. Within days of becoming fledglings, Kingfishers often try out their first dives.
Often, these novice divers become so waterlogged that they perish.
How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Male and Female Kingfisher?
If you look at male and female Kingfishers, you are going to find it difficult to tell them apart. Overall, the birds are around the same size and have the same markings. There is one way you can tell them apart.
The bottom of the beak is a different color for females. The male Kingfisher’s beak is entirely black. The female’s beak has a pinkish-orange tinge on the bottom.
To remember it is a female, many people say she is wearing her lipstick.
Obviously, females are the only ones to lay eggs. These birds lay their eggs on the banks, far away from predators, in long tunnels. The females do not need camouflage like some other birds.
How Do Kingfishers Catch Their Prey?
If you ever get the opportunity to watch a Kingfisher in action, make sure you do not turn your eyes away. Kingfishers catch their prey in the most amazing way possible.
If you see a Kingfisher perching with its head bobbing up and down, this means the bird has spotted its prey. The Kingfisher is gauging the position of the fish so it can carry out the perfect dive.
Once it has gauged the position of the fish, the Kingfisher will take a beautiful dive with its wings open fully.
Amazingly this bird has transparent eyelids that protect its eyes underwater, while allowing the Kingfisher to see perfectly. This adaptation has made the Kingfisher one of the best birds for diving for fish prey.
The prey of choice for Kingfishers is small fish like the minnow or stickleback. Once the Kingfisher catches its fish, it takes it back to the nest, stuns it, and then consumes its head in a giant gulp.
Kingfishers also enjoy eating other creatures of the water, including tadpoles, insects, and shrimp.
Kingfishers Are Highly Territorial
Kingfishers are one of the most territorial birds on the planet. Kingfishers must hold a territory that contains enough food and safe shelter, or they will not survive.
If the Kingfisher’s territory freezes over or there is a food shortage, it will need to migrate to another territory.
The Breeding Process of Kingfishers
Kingfishers are very elaborate when it comes to nesting. They create long tunnels on the soft riverbanks that can be up to 140 centimeters long.
These tunnels end in a nesting area that protects their offspring.
Pair formation begins in February for the Kingfisher. The first clutch of eggs is typically laid in March, with 6-7 eggs. Both males and females incubate the eggs, and the couple will typically have about three broods per year.
Surprisingly, Kingfisher chicks can consume up to 18 fish a day. The parents feed their offspring in rotation. Kingfisher chicks typically leave the nest when they are only 25 days old.
If the fish supply in the territory is low, it may take up to 37 days before the chicks leave the nest.
Once the fledglings leave the nest, they are fed by their parents for four days and then pushed out of the territory to make a life of their own.
Only about half of all fledglings survive their first two weeks of life.
The Kingfisher Is a Fascinating Bird
Now you know how to tell a male and female Kingfisher apart. These amazing birds are some of the best fishermen in the world.
Once you see one of these majestic birds dive for its fish prey and come out victorious, you will never forget it!