King of the Rivers, The King Fisher

Billions of fish are found in rivers, oceans and streams all over the world. To control the fish population, and use it as food where thousands of other aquatic and terrestrial animals are working, the kingfisher is one of them.

It has 120 species reported till now and Pakistan has 5 of them. It is a tropical bird that lives in tropical forested areas like Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Africa and Australia.

(The Eurasian king fisher is enjoying food)

Kingfisher has three main types

1۰ Tree Kingfisher.

2. River Kingfisher

3. Water Kingfisher.

1. Tree Kingfisher.

They make holes in trees in the dense forests of Asia, Africa and Australia.  They do not prey on fish but insects, small birds and lizards. They catch insects while flying.

The special and beautiful species of kingfisher are found on the island of New Guinea in Indonesia, while the largest kingfisher is Kookaburra which is famous for its laughing sound.  It is found in Australia.

(Kookaburras are famous for their laughing sound)

2. River Kingfisher

They live along the river banks and make holes for shelter. They also dive into the water to catch fish and eat aquatic insects and forglet etc. They sit on a branch nearby the river, and dive as soon as they see a fish.  Before diving, they would bob their head like a dove, that is, they would move back and forth so that they would know the exact location of the fish and then jump into the water. The kingfishers having coloured beaks feed on insects while those with black are fish-eaters.

3. Water Kingfisher

These are the real kingfishers and are mostly found in American continents while only one is found in Pakistan and its adjoining northern countries. They feed on fish. Commonly found water kingfisher is the Pied kingfisher which has a white head and black wings.

Pied kingfisher as a predator

It hunts  where there are fish in the shallow water of the river. When it sees a fish, it hangs or stands in the air about ten feet above the surface of the river and flutters eight times a second.

Standing so high in the air, he stays out of sight of the fish, and when he is sure that he will catch the prey, he falls into the water like a stone.  Its neck is strong and its beak is light and hard.

The shape of the beak is made in such a way that when it enters the water, it does not bounce too much water, because the fish will immediately feel the bouncing water and run away.  When it reaches the fish by inserting its beak into the water, It  catches the fish before the fish can react to the movement of the water.

One other speciality lies in its eyes i.e. it keeps its eyes open when diving, but an extra membrane in front of its eyes prevents water from entering.  As soon as the fish is caught, it smacks fish on the ground or the twig so that it does not get stuck in the throat while moving and is swallowed whole.  The Japanese liked the design of its beak so much that they began to make the anterior of their bullet trains look like their beaks so that the people of these areas would not hear the train noise.

(Japanese bullet train inspired by kingfisher beak saves them 15% energy)


They offer a nuptial gift to females in form of fish while some species show display behaviour.

Female lays 5 to 7 eggs for which the incubation time is 20-22 days. Their breeding season starts in late March and early April. During these months they collect a lot of fish for their hatchlings.

Conservation status

As they feed on varieties of food, so mostly they are not endangered or vulnerable nor in danger of extinction. their main predators are hawks and snakes.
have you seen a king fisher diving? or Kookaburra laughing? please comment below

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