June 3rd, 2019 I have been going out almost everyday this last week. The end of May, I returned to a favorite pond of mine for the first time this year. There, I noticed a Common Kingfisher diving into the water from a post over and over, but never coming up with a fish. I thought that was strange, as Common Kingfishers are pretty successful at catching their prey, unless they are juveniles, but this was a mature male.
I returned the next morning, and took a slow motion video of him repeatedly diving into the pond. With the slow motion, you are able to see that he was actually wetting his feathers and returning to the post to preen. You are also able to see exactly how he goes about this. Before entering the water, he opens his beak, just as they do when trying to catch a fish. In this case though, I think it’s the kingfisher’s way of helping to create more resistance as their head enters the water. The dive is shallower than normal, allowing them to reverse direction and spring from the water very quickly, saving time and energy. Just after breaking the water’s surface, the kingfisher does a curious and quite playful-looking maneuver of bouncing on the surface, creating a springboard effect that helps propel them up and out of the water. At natural speed, it is impossible to see this. He then flies to the top of the post and begins to preen, which is also quite interesting to observe at a slower speed.