Heather Lynes, of Coal Creek, asks :-

The kingfisher overlooking the river and creek near us is accompanied by several small birds. They follow him, from his perch, usually a power line. Is there a reason why the small birds hang about the kingfisher?

Dianne Brunton, a ecologist at Massey University, responded.

The reason is that small birds see the kingfisher as a predator - which it is. Kingfishers and their relatives (kookaburra) are very effective predators although mainly on large insects and reptiles. Small birds however recognise the possibility of risk and like to keep the predator in sight (with others) - better not to be taken by surprise and one of a crowd if you are prey.

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