door door Ryanne Betgem, Bas Ruhe, Coen van Haaften en Josephine van Baalen
A shrill whistle and a flash of blue. You look around you in astonishment. Did you just see a kingfisher flash by? There’s a good chance you did. Anyone with some patience and a keen eye can spot kingfishers in the parks of Amsterdam. Did people spot the kingfisher more often than usual during the lockdown because it was so quiet outside? And did the kingfisher’s behaviour change during the lockdown? Jan Jongejans from the Vogelwerkgroep Amsterdam (Bird Working Group) has the answers to these questions.
As it turns out, no changes were observed in the bird’s behaviour either before, during or after the lockdown, but there was a change in the number of kingfishers that were spotted every month. There were as many as 152 reports of people seeing kingfishers at the start of the lockdown in March. This may be because more people started bird watching or because of the nice weather that month. March also heralds the start of the birds’ breeding season. This means that they are louder and that they make themselves heard more often as they mark their territory, making them easier to spot.
The birds’ breeding season is between April and August during which they tend to stay in one place more often. This resulted in fewer sightings during these months.
September saw a relatively high number of kingfisher sightings, namely 102. This is probably unrelated to the lockdown period. One possible explanation is that this is when the third breeding period has finished, and that more adult kingfishers have begun to drift around. Young kingfishers born during earlier breeding periods may also have started to fly around by now.