The kingfisher is not just a beautiful yet very rare bird – it only lives in intact natural habitats. This is reason enough to have our eponymous bird as a role model, creating a small world of healing on the intact Danube flood meadows, in which our guests can truly find an oasis of tranquillity, relaxation and reflection.
The kingfisher is undoubtedly one of the most striking birds in Germany. Its brightly painted plumage and long sharp beak make it unmistakable. However, despite its striking appearance, you need lots of luck to see it. Kingfishers are very shy birds and extremely fast flyers, coupled with the fact that they are becoming increasingly rare.
One key reason for their decline is the fact that kingfishers are struggling to find suitable breeding grounds. The natural water courses with steel slopes they need are increasingly disappearing from our landscape. In their place, gravel riverbanks and concrete water edges are appearing – an immense threat to the species. Kingfishers do not build nests, preferring to dig metre-long nest holes into loam slopes. Continuing pollution of water courses is a further worry for these fish-hunting birds, as they are reliant on clear water rich in fish as feeding habitats.
Friends of the Earth campaigners are active in many places to help the endangered species by renaturalising river courses, replanting riverbanks or making escarpments “habitable” for kingfishers. On a political level, Friends of the Earth are also campaigning for the restoration of the ecological state of water courses. With appeals and statements against planned construction work, we are endeavouring to retain remaining natural rivers and streams. Where the natural conditions are no longer adequate, Friends of the Earth groups have also had good experience with breeding boxes, for instance in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, although it often takes some persuasion to obtain installation permits from private and state landowners.
The extensive work carried out by Friends of the Earth has already achieved initial success at many sites: nesting aids have already been accepted in the Scherrebek Valley (Flensburg district), the Beltringharder Koog Nature Conservation Area (North Friesland) and in the districts of Plön, Rendsburg und Schleswig. The first young hatchlings are expected soon.
The kingfishers themselves have a key quality that contributes to this success: they are very diligent breeders. Female kingfishers lay up to seven eggs per brood. Both parents incubate the clutch for between 18 and 21 days. However, the unique feature about kingfishers is that they are territorial breeders. While the young hatchlings are still being fed in one nest, new eggs are already being laid in a second nest.