Getting frisky

With the new nest burrow completed and accepted by the female, mating now appears to be in full swing. This years birds seem to be spending less time in proximity to the nest bank, the female seemed to be having to follow the male up and down stream, and when the male finally fronted up with a fish to pass to her, she was somewhere upstream so he ate it. I was beginning to wonder just how committed this male was, when he finally appeared opposite the female with a huge fish. He passed the fish to the female and after allowing here a few seconds to swallow it mating occurred.

The river level is ideal at the moment for the kingfishers and so far there is no sign of any mink on the river, fingers crossed that it stays that way!

Mating underway!

Everything seems to be progressing well at the moment. The burrow is now complete, confirmed by the onset of mating. The female won’t allow the male to mate with her until she is happy with the burrow, as once mating commences she will begin egg production. Each egg takes about a day to produce and so the burrow must be ready to go as soon as the mating starts.

The female is spending most of her time now around the nest site, waiting for the male to bring her fish. This arrangement serves to help the female conserve all of her energy for the arduous process of egg production (one a day for about 6 days) while at the same time re-enforcing their pair bond.

Kingfisher mating behaviour

With the nest burrow and territory now established the pair are well into the breeding phase. The female is now staying in close proximity to the burrow most of the time, while the male is returning to the female at 10 to 15 minute minute intervals, bringing fish to feed to her. This behavior seems well adapted to ensuring that all of the females energy can go into egg production. While the female makes occasional visits to the burrow, sometimes spending several minutes in the burrow, the bulk of her time is spent roosting in bank side trees waiting for the male. When the male returns to the burrow he can be heard calling from some way off, this prompts the female to call and the male then quickly homes in on the female and presents her with a fish. On two occasions during the 3 hour session that I observed them, this behaviour was followed by an attempted mating, where the male hovers and perches on top of the female.