Watch: A viral video of a kingfisher turning its head is freaking people out


Most of us aren’t lucky enough to see a kingfisher in an entire summer, but Jennie Smith got to behold one in the palm of her hand.

A master’s graduate in biology, Jennie held the magnificent creature after a bird ringing exercise in a video which has since gone viral.

Aside from the wonder of seeing the fish-eating bird up close, many viewers noted its remarkable ability to turn its head – rotating it almost 360 degrees.

“It has been suggested that, similar to owls, the kingfisher has limited eye rotation and therefore it turns it head so far round to assess its surroundings,” Jennie, who once worked at Sheffield Natural History Museum, told the Press Association.

Bird ringing is a process which sees researchers attach small, harmless metal bands to birds’ ankles, seen on the kingfisher’s right leg in the video.

“We catch the birds using a mist-net – a tall net that is left for about 30 mins that the birds fly into,” said Jennie. “We do this very early in the morning so the birds can’t see the net and so they don’t get too hot!

“(The ring) gives each individual a unique number which is recorded in a database.

“We take wing measurements and determine the species, age and sex before releasing them.”

This data collection allows useful information to be gathered about species and their behaviour and helps in conservation efforts.

“The one in my video is a juvenile female and normally birds fly off as soon as you let them go,” said Jennie. “Occasionally they are in shock from handling and take a while to get their bearings.

“If this bird had stayed any longer, we would have moved her to a safe, dark box/bag for a few minutes for her to calm down before release.

“However she flew off moments after I stopped filming!”


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