Common kingfisher:カワセミ

kingfisherCommon kingfishers are the smallest members of the family Alcedinidae. They are found widely in Europe, Asia, and North Africa. They are an emblem of a clean river.

Description and Taxonomy
Their total length is 16~20cm.Their weight 19~40g. Male beak is black, but female beak is red. Long beak, large head, short neck, tail, and legs. Around the ears and throat is white, the chest and belly and eyes back and forth is Orange color. The feet are bright red. Their head and cheek, back are blue. Blue color of common kingfishers is not coloring matter. The color cause depending on the light by fine structure of feather., like soap bubble. It is beautiful appearance. So they are called “gem of mountain stream”. They fly fast, dive  underwater from near stones and trees to catch food.

Habitat and Distribution
This species is a small kingfisher with seven subspecies. They are wide distribution across Eurasia and North Africa. But they do not find where rivers freeze in winter. Their subspecies live in Japan all year around, except for Hokkaido. Their habitat is near water, such as ponds, rivers, lakes and coastline. They used to habitat in town, but due to the many rivers polluted with household wastewater and industrial wastewater in the high economic growth period, they are rarely seen in city and town.

Kingfishers are designated by International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) IUCN Red List least concern (LC). They are designated near threatened species to IUCN Red list in Kochi. They are barometer of environmental pollution and good indicators of freshwater. They are only live in a clear stream. In order to prepare for the actual decrease of kingfishers, kingfisher nesting block is established in various parts of Japan.

I live Sakawa-town. Kingfishers have been designated as birds of town in Sakawa-town. I have seen Kingfishers when was elementary schoolchild. But recently I don’t see Kingfishers. Rivers of Sakawa-town are polluted by us. We must protect Kingfishers and their abode from now on.

–by M.Okabayashi