Perching kingfisher (c) Mark Medcalf


Kingfishers are one of Britain’s most interesting birds. Their vivid colour is iridescence, not pigment – the pigment is actually dark brown! Interference between different wavelengths of light reflected from different layers of the feathers produces blues, greens and oranges. The feathers on the bird’s back can seem blue or green depending on the angle at which they are viewed.

All you need to know about British birds.

Scientific name: Alcedo atthis

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Common kingfisher,
  • Eurasian kingfisher,
  • River kingfisher

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Map showing the distribution of the Kingfisher taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Kingfisher can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, China, Europe, Indian subcontinent, Mediterranean, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales, Ynys-hir nature reserve. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Kingfisher distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Year assessed: 2009

Classified by: IUCN 3.1


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Birds
  5. Kingfishers and hornbills
  6. Alcedinidae
  7. Alcedo
  8. Kingfisher

Characters we've followed

  • The Wensum Kingfishers The Wensum Kingfishers

    In 2010 Springwatch cameraman Ian Llewellyn followed a family of kingfishers on the Wensum river in Norfolk.

BBC News about Kingfisher

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.

  • Life in slow motion Life in slow motion

    Slow motion filming techniques transform amazing wildlife moments into full scale events, and simple action into incredibly detailed video sequences.