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The colourful kingfisher in Scotland

Date published: 24/5/2022

Kingfishers in the Highlands of Scotland

Strathglass and the river banks right in front of Eagle Brae are home to the most northerly kingfishers in Scotland and the UK. These bright, quick, little birds are regularly spotted during the summer months, on the rivers Glass and Farrar. 

How to spot a kingfisher

Kingfishers are very distinctive, due to their bright blue and orange feathers. It’s one of the reasons they are so loved. But you need a keen eye to spot one in action. Measuring between 17 and 19 cm in length, they are quite small, and also very quick. You may just see a flash of blue from the corner of your eye, as a kingfisher dives into the river to catch its prey. They spend much of their day hunting for insects, fish and small creatures in the river. But if you’re lucky, you might see one sitting quietly, on the lookout for its next meal. Perhaps perched on an overhanging branch above shallow, slow-moving waters. If you familiarise yourself with their call, you can also listen out for them…

Interesting kingfisher facts

Kingfishers are fascinating little birds. Unusually brightly-coloured for this part of the world, with semi-iridescent feathers that reflect the light. Their feathers are actually brown in colour, but we perceive them as an intense shade of blue, due to the way visible light reflects off their surfaces (structural colour).

They have amazing eye sight both in the air and under water, with impressive depth perception that allows them to catch moving targets with ease. They can fly at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour, plunging straight into the water and using their long, pointed beaks to grab their prey. Interestingly, they have a third eyelid, which they close when under water. This protects the eye while still allowing them to see, as it is transparent.

The kingfisher’s beak is around 4 cm long and very sharp and pointy. And the beak is one of the only noticeable differences between the male and female. Unlike many other species of bird, the female is just as bright and colourful as the male. However, the male’s beak is all black, whereas the lower part of the female’s beak is orange.

A kingfisher emerges from the water with a fish in its beak

Birdwatching in the Scottish Highlands

Eagle Brae, our luxury holiday resort in the remote Scottish Highlands, is a wonderful base for birdwatching. With an impressive array of daily visitors to our log cabin village and the surrounding areas. In addition to our friend the kingfisher, you may spot golden eagles, ospreys, red kites, buzzards, hen harriers, sparrow hawks, kestrels, peregrine falcons, barn owls, tawny owls, crested tits, dippers, goldeneye ducks, treecreepers, black grouse, golden plovers, woodcock and many more. Along with other charming creatures such as red deer, otters, badgers and pine martens. To find out more about Eagle Brae, please view our hand-crafted log cabins and all of the wonderful outdoor activities and adventures available here.

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