Kingfishers are among the most beautiful birds in the world. The small birds are so eye-catching that the ancient Greeks wove them into their mythology. To this day, in fact, Halcyon days are celebrated in Greece. Halcyon days last about a week and make up the promised period of calm winter weather, granted to a kingfisher by Zeus himself.
So what makes these birds so stunning? Well, they’re on the smaller side, which immediately increases the cute factor. But they also have vivid plumage in a wide range of colors. Though the most common color for a kingfisher is blue, they can also be cream, yellow, black, red, pink, purple, green, brown, or orange.
There is, however, a catch. Despite their adorable appearance, they’re actually vicious predators. As their name suggests, kingfishers are adept hunters.
In addition to the typical prey of a small bird, such as worms, centipedes, and insects, the brightly colored carnivores will also eat frogs and snakes. They’ve even been known to make a meal of mammals and other birds when the opportunity presents itself.
But a kingfisher’s favorite meal? Fish, of course. The kingfisher will wait on its perch until it spots a meal. It then swoops down, snatching its chosen prey into its razor-sharp beak before returning to the perch to eat.
And if it manages to snatch a particularly big fish? No problem. It will simply bash the fish on its perch to break its bones and spines before swallowing it down.
Kingfisher Snatches a Fish So Fast You Have to Watch It in Slow Motion
On top of being ruthless predators, kingfishers are also fast flyers. Now, they’re not quite as quick as their fellow brightly colored avian, the hummingbird, which is capable of reaching speeds of over 60 MPH. They can, however, zip down to take their prey at 25 MPH, plenty fast enough to snag a fish before it realizes it’s about to become lunch.
If 25 MPH doesn’t seem all that fast, seeing it in action should change your mind. A recent post on the Nature is Metal Instagram page features a red and yellow kingfisher darting into a miniature pond. The tiny bird is moving so fast, however, that it’s difficult to tell what happened. Did it fall? Did it hit the side of the bowl?
The video then goes into slow motion, at which point it becomes clear that it wasn’t an accident at all. The kingfisher darted into the frame, snatched a small fish from the pond while expertly shifting its body to avoid smashing into the wall, then turned and took off, presumably back to its perch, to enjoy its captured meal.