New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..

Extra Dawn Chorus Trip

Date posted: 20-Oct-2016

Stop Press: Extra Dawn Chorus trip now scheduled for Thursday 27th October 2016. ..

2016 AGM

Date posted: 06-Sep-2016

The 2016 AGM was held at the Kohia Centre at 7:30 pm on Monday 19th September. Click here (/..

Kingfisher

Scientific name:

 Todiramphus sanctus vagans

Maori Name:

 Kotare

 

 

Conservation status

 Not threatened

Mainland status:

 Common throughout NZ

Size:

 24cm, 65g

Lifespan:

 Not known

Breeding:

 October - January

Diet:

 Invertebrates, mice, small birds

Kingfisher - photographer: Dr Kerry RodgersThe New Zealand kingfisher, also known as the sacred kingfisher, is the only species of kingfisher native to New Zealand.  The Kookaburra, another of the 86 species of kingfishers worldwide, is the only other bird of the kingfisher family found in New Zealand, although rather scarce.  

The kingfisher is a brightly coloured bird, deep green-blue on the head and upperparts.  Pale yellowish buff underparts and a creamy white collar around the  neck. Long, dark, broad bill and black eye with a yellowish buff eyebrow that starts at the bill and finishes above and beyond the eye.

The dagger-like bill is used in the breeding season to excavate a tunnel in an earth bank by repeatedly flying at the bank at full speed, neck outstretched and uttering a peculiar whirring call.  Once the tunnel has started and the hole is big enough to perch in, the kingfisher then continues to excavate the tunnel by pecking and scooping out the loosen earth.  The tunnel is sloped slightly upwards and ends with a chamber for the nest. 

Despite their name, kingfishers do not necessarily eat fish.  They tend to populate coastal areas but some are entirely terrestrial.  Those around the coastal waters eat small crabs and fish, in fresh water they'll eat tadpoles, freshwater crayfish and other small fish.  In the open country they eat earthworms, cicadas, weta, stick insects, dragonflies, chafer beetles, other beetles, spiders, lizards, mice and small birds (especially silvereyes).  The Tiritiri Matangi kingfishers are often observed feeding on skinks.

Learn more about the kingfisher at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photography by: Dr Kerry Rodgers ©

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking.