Kingfisher
PHOTO: Shellie Evans ©

Introduction

The kingfisher is a distinctive bird with a green-blue back, buff to yellow undersides and a large black bill. It has a broad black eye-stripe, and a white collar in adults. The females are slightly greener and duller.

Kingfishers have a wide range of unmusical calls, the most distinctive of which is the staccato ‘kek-kek-kek’ territorial call. Their status is 'Native, Not Threatened'.

Habitats

Kingfishers are found throughout the country in both coastal and inland freshwater habitats. They live in a wide range of habitats, including forest, river margins, farmland, lakes, estuaries and rocky coastlines.

Diet

Their diet in estuarine mudflats is mainly small crabs, with a range of tadpoles, freshwater crayfish and small fish in freshwater habitats. In open country they eat insects, spiders, lizards, mice and small birds.

Kingfisher feeding. Photo © Shellie Evans.
Kingfisher

Nesting and breeding

Nest sites are in cavities in trees, cliffs and banks with breeding from September to February. After leaving the nest chicks are fed by both parents for 7–10 days before they start to catch food for themselves.

Kingfishers appear to have high fidelity to breeding sites. The same burrow has been reported in use for 20 consecutive years, but it is not known how many birds were involved.

You can help

Emergency hotline

Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) immediately if you see anyone catching, harming or killing native wildlife. 

Help protect our native birds

When visiting parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes
  • Only take dogs to areas that allow them, and keep them under control.
  • Check your gear for mice and rats when visiting pest-free islands.
  • Leave nesting birds alone.
  • Use available access ways to get to the beach. 
  • Avoid leaving old fishing lines on beaches or in the sea.
  • Follow the water care code and local navigation bylaws.
  • Don't drive on riverbeds, or keep to formed tracks if you have to.
Other ways to help
  • Get your dog trained in avian awareness.
  • Volunteer with DOC or other groups to control predators and restore bird habitats.
  • Set traps for stoats or rats on your property. Get more information from your local DOC office.
  • Put a bell on your cat's collar, feed it well, and keep it indoors at dusk/dawn and at night.
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