The Home of the Kingfisher
Learn more about the 'Eisvogel'
The kingfisher (German 'Eisvogel') is definitely one of the most distinctive birds in Germany. Its colourful plumage and long pointed beak make it unmistakable. But despite its distinctive features, exceptional luck is required to observe it. Because the kingfisher is not only very shy and a very fast flyer: it is also becoming increasingly rare.
A major reason for the decline: kingfishers are barely able to find suitable breeding grounds. The necessary natural watercourses with steep slopes are disappearing noticeably from the landscape. In their place, banks of ballast and concrete, which are a severe threat to the species. Because kingfishers do not build nests, but dig metre-long nesting holes in loam embankments. Continuing water pollution also affects this fascinating fish eater. They are dependent on clear waters, rich in fish.
To protect this endangered species, BUND - Friends of the Earth Germany - are active in many places, restoring natural river flows, replanting banks and making natural cliffs "habitable" for the kingfisher. The BUND organisation also lobbies at the political level for restoring good ecological conditions to rivers. By objecting to and submitting statements regarding planned construction work, we try to ensure that remaining natural river and stream flows are retained. Where natural conditions are no longer adequate, BUND groups have also had good experience with special breeding containers – e.g. in Schleswig-Holstein. Getting approval for erecting them often requires convincing private and public landowners.
The extensive work of BUND volunteers has had initial success in many places: Nesting aids have already been adopted in the Scherrebektal valley (near Flensburg), Beltringharder Koog conservation area (North Friesland) and in areas around Plön, Rendsburg and Schleswig. The first chicks are expected soon.
The kingfishers themselves provide an important characteristic for this success: they are very prolific breeders. The female kingfisher lays up to seven eggs per brood. Both parents incubate the clutch for between 18 and 21 days. But what is special: kingfishers have multiple nests. While chicks remaining in one nest are fed, new eggs are already laid in a second nest.