For World wildlife Wednesday this week we head to my homeland to check out one of our many beautiful birds. The aptly named ‘king of the fishers’ is a highly entertaining bird to watch, especially when fishing. New Zealand’s Sacred kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) sits patiently on a strategically placed branch, pole or railing overlooking a mudflat or estuary then, with a sudden flash of turquoise, it’s off to snatch, catch or grab whatever has caught its sharp eye. Though its habits and habitats are similar to those of the British kingfisher I now see on local rivers and streams, the Sacred kingfisher’s colouring is somewhat different, as you can see from these photos – the British bird is on the left, the New Zealand bird on the right.
With its loud ‘kek kek kek’ call, the Sacred kingfisher is sure to announce its presence, especially if you stray within its territory during the mating season, when it will also dive-bomb other birds and even humans if it considers them a threat. Its burrows can often be seen up high in muddy cliffs and banks at the coast but it also nests in holes in trees. Luckily, the population is numerous and widespread so New Zealanders and visitors alike can enjoy its antics.