Order: Coraciiformes

Family: Alcedinidae

Scientific name: Alcedo atthis, Linnaeus, 1758

IUCN Red list status- Least Concern

Did you know?

  1. Common Kingfisher is also known as River Kingfisher and Small Blue Kingfisher.


The Common Kingfisher is 25 to 35 cm long and weighs 30 to 45 grams. It is a brightly plumaged river kingfisher with large head, short tail, compact body and long bill. The upperparts are greenish blue and the back and the rump are pale sky-blue. The bill base and ear region have rufous patches. The throat and the nape have whitish patch. There is a greenish blue neck strip. The breast, abdomen and rest of the under parts are rufous. The females are slightly larger and differ from male in having orange-red lower mandible with a black tip. The bill of male is black with a red base


The diet of Common Kingfisher is mostly fish. It also feeds on aquatic insects, flies, dragonfly nymphs, mayfly nymphs, butterflies, moths, frogs, tadpoles, crayfish, water beetles, prawns and shrimps. Occasionally they take berries and stems of reeds also. It eats nearly 60% of its body weight daily. The common kingfisher hunts from a perch, some meters above water. On locating the prey, it plunges steeply down and seizes the prey with its beak. Then it emerges from the water with the prey and flies to the perch. By changing position of the prey in the beak, the kingfisher holds the prey by the tail and beats it several times against the perch. Finally it is swallowed by taking head portion first. Forage time is mainly day and it is done solitarily or in pairs.


The Common Kingfisher inhabit near natural water sources like, tide pools, estuaries, wetlands, swamps, peat lands, mangroves, flooded grasslands, freshwater lakes, rivers, waterfalls, streams and creeks. In India it is distributed throughout the union. They are also found in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Reproductive Behaviour

The breeding season of these species is mainly from, March to June in northern and central India, February to September in southern India. The male bird establishes territory with display from perches and chases away competitors. Courtship is initiated by the male by chasing and ritual feeding of the female which results in mating. They are generally monogamous. The nest is a slightly inclining burrow excavated by both birds. Normally 4-10 eggs are laid. Incubation of 18-20 days and neonatal care is shared by both birds.


The call is a sharp whistle and repeated “chee-chee-chee” sound.

Related Species and Sub Species

  • Blue-eared Kingfisher (Alcedo meninting).
  • Blue Banded Kingfisher (Alcedo euryzona).
  • Blyth’s Kingfisher (Alcedo hercules).
  • Alcedo atthis atthis of Afghanistan and Northwest India.
  • Alcedo atthis taprobana of South India and Sri Lanka.
  • Alcedo atthis ispida of Western Europe, Russia and Romania.
  • Alcedo atthis bengalensis of India, China, Siberia and Mongolia.

Migratory Behaviour

Common Resident.