Todiramphus sanctus

Physical Description‍

The Kōtare, or New Zealand Kingfisher, is a small bird known for its vibrant colours and distinctive appearance. It has a striking turquoise-blue back, wings, and tail, with a white underbelly. The head is adorned with a white collar, and it has a long, sharp beak ideal for catching prey.

Habitat and Range‍

Kingfishers are endemic to New Zealand and can be found throughout the country, including coastal areas, rivers, lakes, and forests. They prefer habitats with water bodies and perches, such as trees, power lines, and fences, from which they can hunt for prey.

Feeding Habits‍

The Kingfisher's diet mainly consists of small fish, which it catches by diving from perches into water bodies with great precision. It also feeds on insects, crustaceans, and occasionally small lizards or frogs. After capturing its prey, the Kingfisher returns to its perch to swallow it whole.

Breeding and Nesting‍

Kingfishers breed during the spring and summer months. They excavate burrows in riverbanks or sandy soils, creating a tunnel that leads to a nesting chamber. The female lays a clutch of 4-6 eggs, and both parents take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks.

Conservation Status‍

The New Zealand Kingfisher is classified as "Not Threatened" on the New Zealand Threat Classification System. While they face some threats such as habitat degradation and predation, they have a relatively stable population and are not currently considered a conservation concern.

Trees and Plant Preferences‍

Kingfishers do not have specific tree or plant preferences, as their habitat is diverse and can include a range of vegetation types. They are commonly seen perched on branches near water bodies, observing their surroundings for potential prey.

Interesting Facts

  • The Kingfisher is known for its impressive hunting skills and is capable of diving into water at high speeds to catch fish.
  • Their distinctive call is a repeated "kek-kek-kek" or "kee-kee-kee" sound, often heard near their territories or when they are in flight.
  • The Kōtare is considered a taonga (treasure) by the Māori people, and its presence is associated with good fortune and abundant fish stocks.
  • Kingfishers are known for their vibrant plumage, which serves as camouflage in their natural habitats, blending in with the blue hues of water bodies and surrounding vegetation.