Kingfisher ~ Kotare
By Cushla McGaughey
Kingfishers are a worldwide group, the most unusual being Australia’s kookaburra. Our kingfisher migrated to New Zealand relatively recently.
It is larger and has more brilliant plumage than the Australian form. More common in the north than in the south, kingfishers are found in many different habitats, ranging from forests and open countryside to sheltered beaches, estuaries, mangrove swamps, mudflats and along the edges of streams, rivers and lakes.
Kingfishers are usually solitary or in pairs. Their call is a single piercing note, though pairs do converse together in a softer, more musical tone. Their small feet make walking difficult and so kingfishers are never seen on the ground. Very keen eyesight and swift, silent flight enables them to swoop down to snatch up their prey.
British kingfishers dine true to their name. Our bird has heartier tastes. His menu includes crabs, weta, wasps, spiders and mice. But he wouldn’t scorn plump goldfish in an unprotected garden pond!