Common Kingfishers in confrontation

A pair of Common Kingfishers (Alcedo atthis) found themselves on a piece of rocky surface by a pond and decided that two was a crowd (above). A fierce confrontation ensued (below) but the fight was rudely interrupted by the arrival of a sparrowhawk that suddenly flew in from above.

The exciting moments were documented by Lee Tiah Khee in mid-October 2008. The raptor missed its meal as the kingfishers managed to evade capture and Tiah Khee missed taking a shot of the raptor.

Few kingfishers fall prey to other animals. These birds are extremely alert and their fast flight allows them the escape most avian predators. Woodall (2001) reports the case of a Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) that evaded a pair of Lanner Falcons’ (Falco biarmicus) two attempted strikes in the air by rolls and somersaults. At the third attempt the kingfisher dived into the water and submerged. Three more times it submerged but finally exhausted, it was caught as it fluttered out on the mud.

Woodall, P. F., 2001. Family Alcedinidae (Kingfishers). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 6. Mousebirds to Hornbills. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 130-249.

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

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