Common Kingfisher diving for fish

on 8th December 2007

We associate kingfishers with fish, although these birds feed on a wide range of foods.


In fishing, the bird sits on a perch overlooking an open expanse of water and patiently waits for a suitable fish to appear. The bird then dives directly into the water, plunging in to catch the fish. Sometimes it hovers over the water before plunge-diving into it.

The fish is caught in its bill, sometimes the upper mandible pierces into it. The fish is then brought back to the perch to be eaten. If the fish is large, it needs to be subdued by bashing its head on the branch before it is swallowed head first.

Lee Tiah Khee shares with us his spectacular images of the Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) making a direct dive into the water (above), plunging in to catch the fish to immediately emerge from the water with the fish in its bill (below). Note that the fish is clamped sideways in the bill.


The bird then flies upwards (below left) to return to its perch (below right) where it carefully manipulates its catch so that the head is directed towards its oral cavity for swallowing.

A spectacular display indeed.


Lee Tiah Khee
December 2007

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

5 Responses

  1. All the photos are very good. I liked the kingfisher emerging from the water. I am guessing it may have taken long time and patience to get such great catch…oh…I mean great shot. 🙂

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