There are three main kinds of kingfishers – river kingfishers, tree kingfishers and water kingfishers, but all three families of this bird share the same features. They have large heads, short, stubby tails and sharp pointed bills and are not much larger in size than the sparrow. They are common birds, found in all parts of the world. They live in woodland and wetland areas and mainly dive for their food, which is primarily small fish. They do eat frogs, crayfish, and insects and the tree kingfishers also eat snakes. One of the unique characteristics of these birds is that they beat their food to death by banging it on some object, such as a rock or a tree.
They have good vision and can see well when swimming underwater. Their eyes have an egg-shaped design that has evolved to allow the birds to see in two different environments – on land and under water. They nest in tunnels in areas where there are streams and rivers and their eggs are pure white.
Kingfishers sport very bright colors. The underbelly is bright orange with a large white bob. They have bluish-green wings and the back and tail are bright blue. The head of this bird is also blue with orange marks located behind and above the eyes. The legs are orange in color. It is when the birds are in flight that all these colors are most noticeable. The only way to distinguish between the male and female of the species is by the orange color of the female’s bill.
When a kingfisher is hunting for food, it rests on a tree branch or a favorite place close to the water where it can watch for signs of fish. As soon as it spots a fish, it will dive into the water beak first. Once it catches the fish, it will fly back to its nest and will proceed to beat it against the perch until the fish is dead. Then it will eat the fish head first. Once it has eaten the fish, it will regurgitate the bones.
These birds do have a courtship ritual in the spring. The male brings a fish to a female and attempts to feed it to her. He may have to repeat this process with several females before being successful. After each unsuccessful attempt, the male will eat the fish and hunt for another. A female lays from 6 to 10 eggs and both the male and female take turns incubating the eggs for about 20 days.