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Eisvogel  Alcedo atthis | by edmerritt
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Eisvogel Alcedo atthis

Kingfisher hunting for food

A perfect dive at 100km/h, wings neatly folded back along his body to enhance his aerodynamics, this blue bird is a rocket. Making the most of a hole in a little frozen river in Land Hessen (Germany), the kingfisher, "Alcedo atthis", homes in. The water is cold but very clear - it flows on a bed sown with pebbles. The prey is within reach of his beak. The bird, which measures 16cm, cannot carry large fish, so he skewers three little ones. He soars back up thanks to a fluttering of his wings and an Archimedean force. He can capture 80 small fish in a day. He knows the best spots as he doesn't venture far from here, and his habitat is close by. He really is a "king fisher", the king of fishermen. He knocks his prey out before swallowing it head first, and regurgitating the bones. In the absence of perches or sticklebacks, he completes the menu with vertebrate amphibians and crustaceans. The only thing causing problems for the kingfisher: humans, who pollute its waters.

Photographer: Gisela Delpho / Picture Press

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Uploaded on May 9, 2011