THE cheery robin with its red breast and joyous winter song has been knocked off its perch as the nation’s best-loved bird.
Although the robin adorned millions of festive greetings cards this Christmas and continues to be pampered with bird table treats, a New Year poll has seen it lose its place as our top feathered friend.
Swooping in to become the new darling of the birdwatching masses is the multi-coloured kingfisher, a bird that for all its brilliant electric blue and orange plumage has only been seen by a lucky few.
Grahame Madge, of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: “The kingfisher has to be a favourite bird that the fewest number of people have actually seen.” Recent surveys show there are only 5,700 pairs living along the country’s network of rivers and streams and that since 1995 numbers have declined by 17 per cent, though there are hopes that cleaner waterways and greater conservation measures are helping it to recover.
Kingfisher numbers are so low it has been officially given an “amber” status because of conservation concerns
Harsh winters, when rivers are frozen over for days on end, pose a life-or-death struggle to the tiny kingfisher, which tips the scales at one-and-half ounces and needs a constant supply of sticklebacks and minnows to survive.
by Arthur Furrowfield